IN 1976, Johnsrud Transport, Des Moines, Iowa, hand-painted the Stars and Stripes on one of its tractors to celebrate America's 200th birthday. Twenty-six years later, the country's renewed spirit of patriotism inspired the company to go with the patriotic theme once again, this time on five of the company's Kenworth T800s purchased this year and put into service in May.
“I thought now was the perfect time to do a remake of the truck we painted in the '70s,” said Leon Johnsrud, founder and chairman of the board. “Our five red-white-and-blue trucks are symbols of patriotism that draw lots of positive attention toward our company and the trucking industry as a whole. Our drivers really take pride in driving these tractors, and customers love them.”
Johnsrud senior drivers won the honor of driving the newest additions to the fleet. The latest additions are part of 110 tractors, including those of four owner-operators.
Joining Johnsrud in the patriotic enthusiasm are daughter, Jackie, company president, and son, Stuart, vice-president. Jackie runs all company operations, while Stuart manages company information systems and strategies.
To order the latest tractors, the Johnsruds called Kenworth Mid-Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa, and told the dealer they wanted to create patriotic trucks based on their original idea from the 1970s. As a result, a graphic designer worked directly with them and the dealer. About six to eight designs were considered before the final one was chosen. Schneider Graphics of Des Moines created the design and affixed it to the trucks.
The colorful Kenworths have made appearances at schools near the company headquarters, at local Kenworth dealerships, and at the Iowa Truck Driving Championship. In addition, the nation and beyond has a chance to catch a glimpse of these trucks as the company hauls vegetable oils, dairy products, juices, and chocolate in the United States and into Canada and Mexico.
The foodgrade carrier operates an independent terminal in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has offices in Yakima, Washington, and Anaheim, California. The vehicle fleet contains over 135 tank trailers, including those from Walker, Polar, Brenner, and Stainless Tank and Equipment.
The Kenworths are equipped with Detroit Diesel 430/500-horsepower engines and Arvin ZF Meritor 10-speed transmissions. MeritorWABCO supplies the antilock brake systems. The suspensions are from Reyco and the axles are from ArvinMeritor. Johnsrud specifies Alcoa aluminum wheels.
Since the purchase of the new tractors, drivers have received salutes in truck stops, and get the “thumbs up” from other drivers while on the road. Johnsrud Transport customers continuously provide the company with positive feedback on the trucks, and kids love to see them up close.