Jesse Bounds has never been afraid to work. At just 31 years of age, he has already built an amazing farming, baling, buying and selling, hauling and exporting hay and straw business in Junction City, Oregon. He also has a large yard complete with offices, two huge storage barns, a 110-foot scale, a hay-bale press, eight Peterbilts, and a sizable fleet of tractors, hay squeezes and various pieces of baling and farming equipment.
With a drive and tenacity not usually found in guys his age, Jesse has accomplished a lot in a very short amount of time. We were fortunate to spend a couple days with him after the truck show in Brooks, OR last summer and were very impressed with him, his operation, and most importantly, his trucks – especially the clean Peterbilt 359 truck and trailer that he recently refurbished, which is still used every day.
Growing up in Eugene, Oregon, Jesse’s parents divorced when he was 16 years old. About that time, he started working on a nearby grass seed farm (Oregon’s Willamette Valley is the grass seed capital of the world). Jesse always liked farming and tractors, so it seemed like a natural fit. After the farmers cut their grass fields and stripped all the seeds from the stalks, the remaining “straw” was just left in the field. While still in high school, Jesse bought a used baling machine and a tractor and began baling the straw and selling it. Eventually, he began doing some custom cutting and baling for local farmers, then, after graduating from high school, he rented some land and started growing his own. In the beginning, the straw was just waste, so the farmers were happy that he took it. Later, when they realized it had a value, they began selling it to Jesse.
Not long after getting his business going, Jesse realized that he needed a truck to move his product around, so in 2002 he bought a rough but rugged 1986 Peterbilt 359 short hood hay truck and pull trailer. Back then, it had about 900,000 miles on it but it ran like a champ. Painted black with a single stack and a single air cleaner, the truck originally had double square headlights and a very banged-up 24-foot bed that was really overbuilt and heavy.
With help from a close friend named Matt Hansen, who just recently died at a very young age from a brain tumor, the two built a new 25-foot bed with a custom headache rack for the truck and rebuilt the trailer, then painted them both orange – not the truck, just the truck bed and the trailer – to match his lifted 1986 Chevy Suburban (at that time, his Suburban was painted with an expensive House of Kolor Sunset Pearl, and he couldn’t afford to paint the truck, too). Jesse and Matt also lowered the truck and trailer, upgraded the exhaust to a dual six-inch Dynaflex setup, and swapped out the stock headlights with single rounds.
Delivering hay and straw locally, Jesse used that Pete 359 every day. As his business grew, he added more trucks – his next truck was a 1969 tilt-hood narrow nose Peterbilt he bought from his friend (and ours) Bryan Welsh. Bryan had spent a few years building the truck, and then sold it to Jesse, who painted it the Sunset Pearl orange color and then put it to work. This was a really cool old truck! Jesse eventually started venturing out even further, delivering loads of alfalfa all over Oregon and Washington, and then back-hauled loads of lumber. Wanting to be able to haul more hay out and more lumber back, he started looking for a maxi trailer, but what he found was a 1995 Alloy 4-axle 38-foot pull trailer – one of only two ever made! Knowing he could make more money with that trailer than he ever could with that narrow-nose Pete, he sold the truck and used the money to buy the trailer in 2004.
Baling hay and grass straw and delivering it to dairies and feed stores, Jesse’s business continued to grow. In 2006, he ordered his first new truck – an orange (of course) long-hood Pete 379 with a Caterpillar engine, a 275-inch wheelbase, and a 36-inch “coffin-style” sleeper. From this date forward, all of Jesse’s trucks were painted with this stock Peterbilt orange color (the House of Kolor paint was just too expensive to use on everything).
The next year, Jesse purchased a 25-acre weed-filled patch of dirt in Junction City where he could now stack and store his hay and park his trucks – but first he had to clean it up! The property was also in a flood plain, so it took Jesse several years before he could finally get a building permit for his shop and barns. That same year (2007), Jesse also started farming on 600 acres in Sisters, OR, growing his own orchard grass hay. He also added a third truck that year – a 2002 Peterbilt 379.
At some point, Jesse began hauling loads of alfalfa to a hay-pressing facility in Washington. When they upgraded their hay press in 2012, Jesse bought their old one and went into the straw pressing and exporting business, which is now his specialty. This press takes regular-sized bales of straw and compresses them to half their size. Then, these bales, compressed to maximize space and payload, are loaded into 40-foot shipping containers, hauled to the port in Tacoma (Washington), and then sent to countries like Korea and Japan, where they do not have enough land to grow their own. This straw is then used as a filler and mixed into the feed for their livestock. Since getting the press, Jesse’s business has boomed!
With the growing season in the spring, the harvesting and baling in the summer (as well as filling up his barns), and then making deliveries all through the fall and winter, Jesse stays busy all year – not to mention the hay press, which runs year-round. Jesse presses about four container-loads of straw and delivers them to the port every day, in addition to everything else. To accomplish all of this, he now has eight trucks (all Peterbilts), tons of tractors and farm equipment, and a crew of about 20 employees, including Sharon in the office, a 73-year-old lady who moved from Salem to Junction City to help Jesse with the paperwork involved in exporting the containers – and it is a lot!
Last winter, Jesse built two huge barns in his yard for storing hay and straw (each one is 150’ wide x 336’ long and 30’ tall) and also had a 110-foot scale installed to weigh his loaded trucks and containers. Jesse used to drive a truck every day, but since getting the hay press, he doesn’t get to go out as often anymore. He also cut his farming operation in Sisters from 600 acres down to 300, but he still grows on a few hundred acres in Junction City, too.
About two years ago, Jesse finally had the original 400 Cummins in his first truck (the 1986 Pete 359) rebuilt, but that is pretty much the only mechanical work that the truck has ever really needed – it still has its original 13-speed transmission, and it still runs great – it is and always has been a real workhorse and Jesse’s go-to truck. With 1.2 million miles now on the odometer, the old hay ride was really starting to show her age, so last winter, Jesse decided to tear it down and refresh both the truck and the rare 4-axle pull trailer. The end result is the pristine combination you see on our cover and centerfold (and these pages) this month. This is Jesse’s only truck and trailer – all of his other rigs are 3-axle tractors (except for one, which is a 1985 Peterbilt 359 dump truck).
After taking the bed off of the truck and having everything sandblasted, Jesse took the Peterbilt to Jim Marci at JNR Truck and Trailer Repair in Junction City. Once at Jim’s shop, the cab was fitted with an air-ride system, dual air cleaners were installed, and an air dryer was added. Also, some of the many air tanks were moved to the inside of the frame rails to be hidden, all of the extra holes in the frame were filled, and new front springs were installed which actually raised the front end up just a bit (Jesse was tired of tearing stuff up going in and out of the fields). Jim also did some of the final body work and prep before Eric Muller came in and repainted the entire truck, bed and trailer.
When it came time to put everything back together, Jesse wanted to make the truck as original as possible – nothing too fancy or custom, just nice and clean. Having the entire truck and trailer rewired, Jesse replaced all of the lights and then installed five new old-school glass cab lights with incandescent bulbs. He also painted the dual air cleaners and added old-style chrome bonnets, replaced the truck’s 18-inch bumper with a 16-inch tapered bumper, and switched out the single round headlights with double rounds. To finish it off, he added a Pickett bow-tie visor and a new grille.
The truck’s original interior was dark red, but Jesse wanted it to be black, so he ordered a new interior kit package from Cliff Kostelecky Truck Interiors in Puyallup, WA. Getting new carpet, new door panels, seats and headliner, everything was still kept stock-looking, but it was done in black instead of dark red. Nothing fancy was done to the interior – the original dash panels, gauges and switches were just cleaned up. The truck’s veteran driver, Daryl Halden, recently came out of semi-retirement to drive this truck, and he loves it. Daryl has made it his personal mission to find all of the little details and trinkets needed to get this truck back to as original as possible.
Jesse credits much of his style and love for trucks to the cool California hay-haulers he used to see when he worked on the farm – they would roll in slow with their lowered Peterbilt cabovers to pick-up hay and Jesse would go crazy. Bryan Welsh’s dad, Bill, was also a big influence on Jesse. Back then, Bill had a few sweet rides, and he really knew how to make a truck look cool. Jesse has known Bryan and his dad since he was about 16 years old, and hauled a lot of lumber with Bryan back in the day before he went to drive for Farwest Steel. These days, Bryan takes his paid vacation time from Farwest in the summer and then he spends the time hauling straw with Jesse, to help him get through his busy season. We at 10-4 would like to thank Bryan for making sure we took notice of Jesse’s truck and for convincing us that Jesse and his rig were both cover-worthy.
Still single, Jesse has no plans for a family at this point. When he’s not working, he enjoys going to the sand dunes on the coast in the warmer months and snowmobiling in the colder ones. One day, he would like to move more inland, maybe to the beautiful little town of Sisters, but for now he is just too busy to even think about it. Looking to increase his trucking operation in the near future, he is also going to have to start upgrading some of his older rigs to comply with the emissions regulations in the port. And, because of the current drought, he has recently been getting more loads going to California, so he will need newer trucks for that, too. He would also like to increase production on the hay press, but he is in no rush.
Jesse is driven by a need to not fail. After working so hard for so long, he would hate to have to start all over again doing something else, so he presses on, pushing the envelope of time and energy to its extremes, hoping that one day he will get ahead enough to either start slowing down or be able to hire people to help him do all of the numerous things that fall on his shoulders every day. Running the yard and the press (Bounds Hay Company) along with all of the trucks (Jesse Bounds Trucking) is no easy task for Jesse Bounds, but when you were born to work, you are “bound” to succeed – and succeed, he has. And, at such a young age, he is “bound” to do a whole lot more!