Jerry Mies loves milk so much that it’s probably flowing in his veins. Growing up on a dairy in Kansas and then later becoming a milk hauler, his entire working life has been centered on milk. Now, running a large trucking operation with help from his family, Jerry still loves to get out and drive whenever possible. So, to make that trucking time even more enjoyable, he recently built himself a personal truck, seen here, that he gets out and drives several times a week. But, as much as Jerry loves trucks, trucking and the dairy industry, he loves his family even more.
Born in Wichita, Kansas, Jerry’s parents were dairy farmers. Their dairy was not very big by today’s standards, but back then milking 100 cows was a fairly large operation. Jerry’s dad, Dennis, always wanted to be a truck driver but Jerry’s mom, Joy, would never allow it. She knew the kind of time and commitment it took to be a successful trucker, and she did not want him to be away from home that much. Jerry was very involved in the dairy growing up, but he already knew what he wanted to do – drive a truck!
While still in high school, Jerry met the love of his life, Cathy, and now they have been married for 30 years. Cathy has been at Jerry’s side since the very beginning, so his story is her story, as well. Cathy did not grow up on a farm – her dad was an owner operator – which sparked Jerry’s interest in trucking even more. After the two of them graduated from high school, Jerry got his CDL and then went to diesel school to become a mechanic. About the time Jerry was finishing his schooling, his parents sold the dairy and moved to southern California. Jerry’s dad had health issues, so he was seeking a warmer climate. Once there, they reinvested all of their money into real estate, and today have several rental properties. Unfortunately, Jerry’s dad passed away five years ago, so now his mom lives part of the time in California and the rest of the time in Kansas.
After graduating from diesel school in 1984, Jerry took a wrenching job at a company that hauled milk. Working for A.J. Mies, who just happened to be one of Jerry’s distant cousins, it was Jerry’s job to maintain the four trucks his boss owned and four more that his son owned. After about a year, A.J. gave Jerry the opportunity to drive – and he took it. Jerry can still remember that very first day – he was given a list of 23 dairies to pick up from and then just sent out on his own. After driving for A.J. and his son for six years, Jerry decided to change gears and leave the dairy industry. Climbing into Cathy’s dad’s truck, Jerry hit the highway as an over-the-road driver, running all over the country. It didn’t take Jerry long to realize that he hated being away from home and missed the dairy industry.
As luck would have it, Jerry got a call in 1991 from his former boss, A.J. Mies, who was wondering if he would be interested in buying him out. Wanting to get off the road, Jerry bought the company, along with one truck and all of its customers. Naming his new company Mies & Sons Trucking in honor of his father (the farm operation was called Mies & Sons Dairy), Jerry went to work. Since it was just Jerry and that one truck – a 1982 International 9300 – it was tough at first. Working seven days a week, Jerry did everything by himself for almost two years.
Around 1994, Jerry had the opportunity to buy another company. This purchase added one more truck and a driver to Jerry’s operation, but running two trucks was even tougher. With the company barely surviving, Jerry caught a break when a new dairy opened up in western Kansas and Mies & Sons got the haul. Quickly adding three more trucks and a few more drivers, Jerry could barely keep up with all the work! Most of the milk they hauled was picked up at various dairies throughout Kansas and then delivered to a processing plant in Hillsboro, KS. As more and more new dairies opened in western Kansas, Jerry and Cathy’s business continued to grow. Then, in 1995, two of the main dairy associations merged and the Hillsboro plant closed. After that, the milk from Kansas had to be taken to processing plants in Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Missouri and Arkansas, which caused the company to grow even more.
Today, Mies & Sons Trucking, based in Colwich, KS, owns and operates 65 trucks and 85 Walker milk tankers. With 75 employees, including two full-time dispatchers, Jerry and Cathy have their hands full on a daily basis. At first, all of the trucks were Internationals, but eventually they started buying Peterbilts. Today, 70% of the trucks in the fleet are Peterbilts, while the other 30% are Kenworths (when ordering a truck, Jerry lets the driver choose what he wants). And since most of their runs are 800 to 1,300 miles round trip, all of the trucks are equipped with sleepers. Jerry has no loyalty when it comes to colors – in fact, every one of his trucks is a different color or has a different color combination. This large assortment of bright colors has earned him the nickname “Skittles” in some circles.
In 2001, wanting to have a truck to “play” with, Jerry bought a 1968 needle-nose Pete and then spent the next three years restoring it. Painted pearl white with black cherry fenders, Jerry had fun taking this truck to local shows and events. Although Jerry sold it in 2007, the truck is still out there, and the new owner still takes it to some of the antique shows. After selling the needle-nose, Jerry bought himself a new 2007 Peterbilt 379 and fixed it up similar to the one you see here – it was painted turquoise and white, had a 265-inch wheelbase and was equipped with a 550 Cat. Jerry called this truck the “Calcium Cadillac” (he likes to give his trucks funny names). It was a really nice ride, but nowhere near as fancy or custom as his latest personal rig.
After driving that 2007 Pete for several years, he passed it down to one of his boys to drive and ordered himself another new truck. Wanting this one to be really special, and one only he would drive, Jerry went all-out. They had a 2004 model C-15 Cat 6NZ engine just sitting around, so the 2013 Peterbilt 389 was ordered as a glider kit. Featuring solid turquoise paint, 3.36 rears, a 272-inch wheelbase and a fully-loaded interior, the truck was delivered to Peterbilt of Garden City in January of 2013. Once there, the dealership added the pearl white stripes (which were designed by Jerry) to the truck, and then also painted and mounted a set of matching WTI double hump fiberglass fenders.
While the truck was still at the dealership getting painted, Jerry’s guys rebuilt the engine. Seeing how good the truck was looking, they decided to paint the engine, too. Using special paint that can handle up to 12,000 degrees of heat, the engine was painted turquoise with white valve covers and accents. Eventually, everything under the hood would be either painted, polished or chromed. They also added a PDI Big Boss turbo and exhaust manifold, as well as a Diesel Freak tune, giving the engine about 730 hp. Once the truck got to Jerry’s shop, his mechanic, Mike, dropped in the motor, along with an 18-speed transmission, and got everything running.
Covered with cool stuff from top to bottom and front to back, the truck features a tapered Valley Chrome bumper with the truck’s name (Lactose Limousine) laser-cut into it and back-lit in blue, J.W. Speaker LED headlights on Double JJ brackets, stainless front and rear visors from RoadWorks and Dynaflex 8-inch exhaust. The grill was powder-coated turquoise and the grill bars were powder-coated white, while the tanks and boxes were wrapped in stainless by Brunner’s in Joplin, MO. The truck came with five cab lights but Jerry added six more, stainless fairings were mounted along the bottom of the fuel tanks, and 5-inch stainless cab and sleeper extensions were installed. Behind the cab, the truck was fitted with a stainless deck plate, a stainless rear light bar, and a custom stainless shox box cover. The final details included the lettering, thanks to Signs by Shire, and etched glass on each side of the cab (every Mies & Sons’ truck has their signature cow head etched into each side window).
Not to be outdone by the truck, Jerry also rebuilt his 2008 Walker stainless milk transport trailer. Featuring a 6,500-gallon capacity, the 45-foot long tanker with polished sides was taken to Peterbilt of Garden City where they painted the frame and mounted matching WTI fenders. A custom rear bumper, laser-cut just like the front bumper and back-lit in blue, was mounted to the rear of the trailer. The back of the trailer is also equipped with a special electric pump and 40-foot hose so that Jerry can pick up or deliver at the smaller farms, too. For the finishing touch, Jerry had Brunner’s Fabrication cover the entire belly of the trailer with stainless steel panels.
One of the most distinctive features of this combination, besides the color, is the lights. The entire combination has almost 350 LED lights. Everywhere you look there are lights – on the breathers, the cab and sleeper extensions, the bumper, the tank fairings, underneath, the light bars, the back of the cab, and all over the trailer. On top of that, Jerry had all of the lights, on both sides, wired to flash in unison when the blinkers are activated. Special thanks go out to Brett and Kimber at Wilkins Oklahoma Truck Supply for all their help. 90% of the chrome and stainless on this truck and all of the Trux LED lights came from their store in Tonkawa, OK – and they took real good care of our friend Jerry!
Last but not least is the interior of Jerry’s new rig. While building this Peterbilt, Jerry and Cathy were also remodeling their house. The guy who was doing new wood floors in their house offered to do the truck’s floor, as well. Using dark-stained hardwood strips from Home Depot, the guy installed an elegant floor in the cab and sleeper. In addition to the black leather Sears seats and every conceivable dash accessory, the cab also has a “gangster” shifter from 4 State Trucks, a wood steering wheel, stainless foot pedals and a chrome CB. Back in the sleeper they mounted a flat-screen TV, but other than that, it is still pretty stock back there.
Seven long months after arriving at the dealership, the truck was finally ready to make its debut at the 2013 Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, TX. Heading to the show, Jerry had no idea what to expect – he had never been to a “real” truck show, just small local events. After arriving at the show, Jerry was pleasantly surprised at the camaraderie of the competitors. Knowing he had never prepared his truck for “white glove” judging, many of the veterans helped him out and gave him good advice – so good, in fact, he ended up winning Best of Show in the Working Combo class! This win qualified Jerry to compete at the 2014 show in Dallas for the National Championship. After that first show, Jerry went to several others and bagged more Best of Show titles. Not bad for a newbie!
Mies & Sons Trucking is a true family-run business. Operating on a 10-acre piece of their 80-acre property in Colwich, KS, Jerry and Cathy have four grown children – Robert (28), A.J. (27), Katie (26), and Rebecca (20). Robert handles dispatch and safety; A.J. is in charge of payroll and human resources; Katie is a nurse (she does not work at the company); and Rebecca is a college student, but she helps out in the office when she can (they also have two grandchildren and a third one on the way). On top of all that, Cathy’s mom has worked with them in the office for the past 16 years. Cathy’s duties include “everything” in the office and managing the entire operation. Back in the day, when it was just Jerry and Cathy, she used to help him work on the truck – oil changes and tires were her specialties. Since hiring the full-time dispatchers, Jerry now has a little more time to go trucking, and now that he has this slick new ride, he is really loving it. He might not drive nearly as much as one of his regular drivers, but he drives a lot more than the average guy who owns a 65-truck fleet!
Jerry wanted to give some special thanks to his employees, drivers and family members for all of their help, saying, “Without them, we would not be able to do anything.” He also wanted to dedicate this article (and his truck) to his two dads, who are both gone now – his real dad, Dennis, and his “second dad” A.J. Mies. Alphonse Jerome (A.J.) Mies was the guy who first hired Jerry as a mechanic and then later let him drive. A few years after that, he sold his company to Jerry, and the two remained the best of friends until he passed away about eight years ago. Jerry had such admiration and respect for this man that he even named his second son after him (sort of) – his son’s name is Adam Jacob, but he goes by A.J. just like Alphonse did. Jerry misses both of his dads dearly, and wishes that he could have taken them both for a ride across the country with him in his beautiful new Peterbilt.
It’s been said that the best thing about the dairy industry is that you know there will be work seven days a week and 365 days a year, and the worst thing about the dairy industry is that you know there will be work seven days a week and 365 days a year. Although it is a lot of work, Jerry still loves the dairy industry. That year he spent driving OTR was a real eye-opener, because he hated it – he could not wait to get back on the farm and start hauling that milk again. Although he is only 50 years old, we asked Jerry if he had plans to retire anytime soon, to which he replied, “I doubt it. I might eventually slow down a bit, but I can’t see myself ever retiring completely.” That sounds like a man who truly loves his work.
Jerry will keep on growing the business as needed, but not any faster than necessary. Over the last few years, his boys have stepped up tremendously and are now an integral part of the operation, ensuring that Mies & Sons Trucking will continue for generations to come. As long as there are cows to milk, Jerry and his “Lactose Limousine” will keep hauling that white gold. And as much as he loves that part of his job (and that’s a lot), the best part is that he gets to do it every day with the people he loves the most – his family. Not only does Jerry Mies “Got Milk” by the truckloads, he has a whole lot more, and it just doesn’t get any better than that.