Enjoying hard work and not being afraid to get your hands dirty have always been two of the main ingredients to having a good work ethic, and Leroy Bracelin of Coos Bay, Oregon was born with those traits naturally flowing in his veins. For decades, the Oregon coast was home to some of the coolest sand and gravel trucks in the northwest and, in many cases, they were seen rolling down some of the very highways that they themselves helped to re-surface and/or rebuild. And, amazingly, the whole Bracelin-Yeager road building dynasty began with just one man’s commitment to hard work and an old gas-powered Ford dump truck.
Leroy Bracelin began his early days hauling dirt and rock around the Oregon coast in his 1965 Ford gas pot, running from project to project, from one job site to the next. After just two years into his new business, Leroy started running the numbers on his monthly fuel (gas) expenses and decided that it all equated into, “A lot of work and no money,” as he put it! Now, with this in mind, Leroy and his wife Joanie decided to put it all on the line and order up a brand new red and black 1968 Peterbilt narrow nose. This was a big step (and a big expense) for Leroy, but with diesel prices being so much cheaper than gasoline in those days, he felt it was safe to predict that his shiny new rig would pay for itself in fuel savings alone – and he was right!
Over the next several years, Leroy continued to travel all over Oregon like he always had, going wherever the work was, and he never turned down a job. Later, good timing presented Leroy with an opportunity to buy a local excavation company owned by Doyle Williams. This company came with a good clientele, two loaders, and a dump truck, so Leroy and his brother-in-law Irv Yeager, together, embarked on what would become one of the coolest excavation and road building outfits along the nation’s northwestern pacific coastline – and Bracelin-Yeager Excavating & Trucking was born.
The early 70’s brought Leroy and Irv some good opportunities, and these opportunities, very quickly, got bigger and better. Within the first two years, Leroy found himself doing less residential type projects and more highway/government jobs, as well as carving out and grooming miles and miles of off-highway logging roads for companies like Weyerhauser and others. By the time the 1980’s rolled around, Bracelin-Yeager had grown to over a dozen trucks and a whole line of excavation equipment, including their own rock crushing and asphalt producing plant. To Leroy, the best way to provide the best service in his industry meant managing the entire process – from digging the materials out of the ground, producing the finished product, and then delivering it to the job site in the fine rides you see here on these pages.
The solid growth of Bracelin-Yeager continued throughout the 90’s with an addition of a concrete ready-mix plant and over 125 employees. Leroy always enjoyed and appreciated every member of his “crew” and has always been a firm believer in the fact that “good people make it happen,” so in late 1999, when Leroy and his family decided to sell the company, Leroy was adamant that his people and their families would continue to have jobs and would continue to be treated well, like they had been for all of those years before.
Hard work and dedication propelled Leroy and his company through many decades of success, and through all of the good and the bad years, that original 1968 Peterbilt 358 was a big part of it all. So, after retiring, wanting to give his old truck a fresh new look on life, Leroy sent the truck to Brent McGrath of Brent’s Custom Trucks in Medford, Oregon where it got a complete makeover. Showcased here, among many of the other cool rides that graced the Bracelin-Yeager fleet, Brent will always appreciate the trust, drive, energy and opportunity that Leroy gave him to build what we would consider to be one of the finest street rod Petes ever to have graced our eyes. Great job, Brent! Even in his retirement, Leroy still puts most of us youngsters to shame!!
Leroy is proud of his family. His son, Chuck, followed in dad’s footsteps and now operates over 30 logging and flatbed trucks, which are all “pressed out” like his dads were. Leroy is very proud of what Chuck has accomplished. Leroy, above all else, wanted to thank his wife, Joanie, for always being the most understanding person in his life. We at 10-4 Magazine would like to thank the entire Bracelin family for just being who they are, and thank Leroy for proving that good people and hard work can take any of us very far in life! And, if we’re lucky, maybe we can run a few miles of life’s highway on a road paved by one of Leroy’s legendary crews.