The Silver Lining

A 25th anniversary is also known as the “silver” celebration, marking a milestone in life, marriage or business. September 2018 marks 25 years since the inception of 10-4 Magazine in 1993. Through the eyes of contributors and the people behind the scenes of the magazine, pictures and articles document pieces of history “For Today’s Trucker” (their slogan for many years). This is my contribution to a magazine I am proud to be a part of as I sought out a silver 2018 Peterbilt 389 to add to the silver lining of this special anniversary issue.

As everyone rallied together in an effort to make the September 2018 “Chrome” issue something to remember, I had made use of my contacts in the industry to either find a working 1993 or 2018 silver semi-truck. As luck would have it, I only had to travel just under seven hours and a state away, up to Garner, Iowa, to photograph a slick 2018 silver Peterbilt 389 that has a retro look on a modern truck.

IMT (Iowa Motor Truck) Transport is comprised of Jeremy Gouge and his sister Stephanie Gardner. Operations do not fall solely on these two, as they are backed by the “family” of people involved in the company to help make everything run smoothly. The office, operations and shop staff, except for a few, all hold their CDL and have driven for the company prior to getting their non-driving position. Jeremy stated that this makes for well-rounded employees with a clearer understanding of what happens behind the wheel of a truck and what the drivers are actually dealing with on a daily basis out there.

Pictured here is the result of seven different locations to ensure that we captured the very essence of this truck and represent the area it hails from. One of the most significant locations was made possible by Jeremy contacting the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, IA. The owners put up a special message on the marquee of the building highlighting the 10-4 Magazine 25th Anniversary, which was really cool of them to do.

For those who don’t know, the Surf Ballroom is an American Cultural Icon, as well as a historical landmark. It was originally located on the shore of Clear Lake until a fire destroyed the original building, which was then rebuilt across the street, where it still stands today. The ballroom originally opened in 1934.

On February 2, 1959, the owner brought in the Winter Dance Party which featured Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper and Dion. This fateful show made the most lasting mark on the Surf Ballroom. The next day, the aforementioned musicians, along with their pilot, lost their lives in a plane crash near Clear Lake. The tragedy was later immortalized as “The Day the Music Died” in the song American Pie by Don McLean in 1971.

This silver and blue 2018 Peterbilt 389 has a 12.7 Detroit 60-Series under the hood, 3:70 rear gears, a 280-inch wheelbase, 7-inch Dynaflex stacks, a Valley Chrome bumper, a visor from Midwest Sheet Metal, Hogebuilt quarter fenders, and nut covers and interior accessories from Lifetime. A custom rear bumper was made in IMT’s in-house fab shop, and then old-school pinstriping was done by Frosty Harrington from Knoxville, IA.

The colors for all the new trucks ordered are picked by the kids of the employees, as Jeremy wants everyone to feel like they are part of the “family” at IMT. The idea behind setting this truck up was to give it a clean, simple and classic look, representing trucks from the late 80s. This one’s driver, Bruce Dooling, can be found operating this rig pulling a new custom step-deck.

My trip to Iowa was definitely a memorable one and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the company and hearing the past trucking stories and history on some of the IMT trucks. Jeremy is the 3rd generation of truckers in his family. His grandfather Merle started trucking in 1954 and the company was founded by Jeremy’s father Pete in 1971. Jeremy and Stephanie took over the company in 1998 and the company has grown from 12 trucks to 230 strong, including about 20 leased-on owner operators.

In 1969, Merle purchased a brand-new yellow Kenworth A Model, which Pete purchased from him in 1971. This truck has always been a favorite of Jeremy’s, and he eventually had the truck passed down to him. Most recently, he passed the truck on to his 16-year-old son, Brockway. The truck is in the early stages of being rebuilt but not restored, as they want to keep it in as original condition as possible. Jeremy recalled that he has always loved this truck, and before he could drive, he spent many summers riding along with whoever was driving it at the time.

Running this company is a family affair for both Jeremy and Stephanie. Jeremy and his high school sweetheart Gail got married on September 1, 2000, and Gail plays an important role in the company functions. The 4th generation is now coming up, which includes their three children – Brockway (16), Gretta (12) and Mattie Mae (5), along with their two cousins, Ty (15) and Trevor (13), who are the pride and joy of Stephanie and her husband, Lance. Stephanie is the “numbers girl” and she enjoys being behind-the-scenes of the company.

Today, Jeremy wears many hats with the company, but his favorite job is still driving. His truck is a very cool black 1982 Kenworth A Model, that was originally from the east coast. If you haven’t seen it, check out his Rolling CB Interview from Big Rig Videos for the full rundown on his truck. Being a 3rd generation driver, the memories, stories and opportunities are priceless.

There are a few moments that stick out in Jeremy’s mind when looking back at the experiences he had when he was younger. One was when he was 12 years old and drove with his dad on the Alaskan Canadian Highway, which is dubbed the most treacherous, with steep grades, no guard rails and little to no maintenance. When he and his dad went, there was a foot of snow and ice covering the gravel roads. Another was the first time he went trucking with his uncle John and his father as a sole driver of one of the three trucks. And then there was the time he got caught crossing the state line into Wisconsin at age 19 and detained for 15 hours.

I asked Jeremy what he would give as advice to someone looking to get into trucking and he said if you have a lot of hobbies, trucking is definitely not for you. Trucking needs to be your only hobby, and you need to love that hobby to be successful. Not only that, make sure to surround yourself with others who also love this same hobby.

A big “thank you” to Jeremy and Gail for the opportunity to come up and photograph this truck, along with Ken Murphy, for kindly shuffling the truck to and from the desired photo locations. It is an honor not only to tell the story of the truck and the company, but to be able to tell it in this special 25th Anniversary issue of 10-4 Magazine.

If someone has experiences and stories to share about trucking, make sure to take the time to listen. There is a vast amount of knowledge to be received, but you need to make the time. Multi-generational companies in this industry aren’t as abundant as they used to be, so it is important that the wisdom and information doesn’t get overlooked and lost – that was the “silver lining” of this special “Chrome Anniversary” story. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.

About Stephanie Haas

With a history in the trucking industry dating back to 1997, Stephanie’s “addiction” to big rigs has only grown with time. Today, operating independently as “Diesel Addict Photos” (find her on Instagram and Facebook), Stephanie has been a regular contributor of features and show reports to 10-4 Magazine since 2016. Keep an eye out for her work as she shares her love of large cars… one photo at a time!