This month’s cool “creation” was built for Diamond Trucking in Phoenix, AZ. Clint contacted the folks at Diamond shortly after they took delivery of three new Peterbilt 389s they had ordered, asking for some information about the company. The rest of this article is the reply he got from Jess Miller of Diamond. He did such a great job writing it, we thought we’d just let him do the talking this month!
Diamond Trucking, a small family owned and operated trucking business out of Phoenix, Arizona, was founded by Dennis and Diann Miller in 1982. This company, like most, has endured all the heartaches and pains the transportation industry has to offer – from the ever-changing regulations to just being flat-out broke, often wondering where their next meal may come from. Dennis and Diann have always had their own business from the day they married on March 17, 1961 (see photo). It has been a wild ride, to my understanding, that included running feed lots, service stations, drilling and pulling water wells in Hayes Center, Nebraska, where Mom and Dad began raising their family in the early 1960’s.
It wasn’t until the early 1980’s, after all the older kids (Lori, Kelly and Traci) were getting near graduating high school, when we all learned where the term “colder than a well-diggers ass” came from when Dennis and Diann decided to pick up shop and move to Colorado, searching for a brighter future and a steady income for the family. This is when they decided to buy their first real truck and begin hauling aggregates. It was the coolest thing I had ever seen – it was a 1973 Diamond Reo tandem axle dump truck with a pup trailer, powered by a 350 Small Cam Cummins and a 13-speed. Little did they know they had just purchased another “road from hell” that we were all so excited to travel down.
It didn’t seem like very long when the older kids were starting their own families and had other ambitions, or had just out-grown the family business. In 1986, two of the three older kids moved on to steady sources of income for their own families while mom and dad were still searching for steady work. P.J. and I were still in the 3rd and 6th grade when mom and dad got an opportunity to move to Phoenix, Arizona to begin hauling gasoline as a lease operator.
While mom and dad were busy trying to plant roots in Phoenix with three of the four trucks they owned at the time, Kelly, the oldest boy, started hauling hot asphalt in the Denver, CO area with that old worn out Diamond Reo (and he would soon find out that his family was about to begin, too). His family decided to plant their roots in the Denver area where he went to work for a local oil outfit. He and his son Dalton are now part of the family business, as well as our oldest sister, Lori, and her husband Sonny.
In 1993, the 4th kid (P.J.), who had just graduated high school and started attending college part time, was desperately seeking work anywhere he could find it to help with his financial strains, as well as working in Diamond’s shop to help keep the worn out equipment going. The 5th kid, Jess (that’s me), was still attending high school and also helping in Diamond’s shop any chance he could to help out. These were truly hard times, as mom and dad were living by the phone just waiting for work to come in, and all too often it would come late in the afternoon when they were both already wore thin. I believe any successful trucking company can tell the same story. The owners (mom and dad) not only drove the trucks, but couldn’t afford to have anyone but themselves work on them when they broke down, nor could they pay anyone to staff a functioning office. But, over the years, we were blessed to have good friends like Kenny and Joan King with Kenny’s Fleet Service, who not only let us borrow tools and shop space that we couldn’t afford, but Kenny also shared his great knowledge of diesel mechanics – we can’t thank them enough.
From 1996 to 2000 we went from 5 trucks to 8 trucks (and could have used 50 trucks) and were even able to custom order our first Heil petroleum tankers. Then, “the bubble burst” January 1st, 2000. We quickly dropped back to 5 trucks then, about midyear, we began to pick up enough to keep the bills paid. Then 9-11 hit and the bubble burst again. We had to keep our heads held high and press on – there was just too much at stake at this point to fail. In those days, dad would introduce us to people that seemed to be irrelevant at the time, but he always said that they will play an important role in our life at one time or another, so be certain to respect their wishes. Wow, he was so right about that!
As we moved into the Y2K decade, P.J. and I had both finished up our schooling and started the school of hard knocks – the business was starting to take off and college was just going to interrupt the growth of Diamond Trucking. One late night in the shop, P.J. and I made a deal with each other. Mom and dad had worked their fingers to the bone for all of us kids and at times we often wondered if they would continue on after seeing all the creative ways they paid for things like plates and insurance, but we decided that it was time for us to bare the load so they could have something to carry them for the rest of their lives. We made the deal, with a handshake and a hug, to never let mom and dad down.
In 2002 our business just exploded – it doubled, if not tripled, year after year. Not only were we able to put together a real functioning shop, but we were also able to staff an office full of great people along the way. At this point in time, we knew what we were going to do the next day, and the next week, and so on (no more living day-to-day). Our growth has slowed due to the current economics of the day, but we have still been able to make additions through the hard times, which has been nice for a change.
In 2010, we were able to make one of our dreams come true. With the help of Randy Miller and Ron Jurek with Heil International and Clint Moore of Kansas City Peterbilt, we were actually in the position to not only custom order our gas tanks, but now we were able to custom order a few cool trucks, too. We have often been asked why we would go all over the country to have our equipment built, since we could get it done closer to home, but we know what it takes to operate this equipment we run – from bumper to bumper, we know what works best, not only for us, but also for our personnel and our customers. These folks mentioned prior, in our opinion, are the best in the country. They are far from a salesmen looking to earn a paycheck – they actually have the same desire for good-looking and functional equipment, pride and craftsmanship that we do. They have become more than just people we do business with – they are good friends.
The trucks and trailers featured here are some of the latest additions to the Diamond Trucking fleet, which were ordered through Clint Moore at Kansas City Peterbilt. Diamond’s fleet is currently made up of 25 company trucks and 10 owner operators. I know that it seems like a small fleet still, but we have made certain to only bring on the very best in the industry, and when you carry that mentality, it is not an easy task to grow quickly. Diamond Trucking would like to send a special thanks to everyone involved in our everyday business, but would like to highlight a pioneer of the polishing business – Vic Caliva of Caliva’s Truck Wash and Polishing in Montebello, California – thank you, Vic, for being such a big help with the image of our company.
There are just too many great people out there to mention, but if you see our face day in and day out, than you know who you are, and we are only interested in doing business with the best. Thank you all for what you do and for the pride you take in your jobs. Also, on a final note, everyone from Diamond Trucking and the family would like to say Happy 50th Anniversary to Dennis and Diann Miller – our mom and dad and the founders of Diamond Trucking. We will do our best to carry on the family business with pride and commitment, just like you taught us, and continue “Passin Gas First Class” to the end.
~ We at 10-4 would like to extend a hearty “congratulations” to Dennis and Diann for their 50 year anniversary – that is awesome! We’d also like to thank Jess Miller and everybody else at Diamond Trucking for their help with this article and some of the pictures.