It is said that sometimes you need to explore your options in the world before coming back to your roots. This is the case with Jeremy Williams (45) of Phillip Williams and Sons, Inc. out of Plant City, Florida. Although Phillip Williams and Sons is currently a two-generation company started by Jeremy’s father Phillip in 1998, they are three generations of truckers, as Phillip’s father G.C. Williams was also a trucker who started driving in 1935. This is a story of one man, his truck, and his journey into the family trucking business that is generations strong.
As a driver today, Jeremy’s favorite trucking moments are when he and his father Phillip get to run loads together and the few times they run team on a load to take care of a customer. Speaking with Phillip, he said he couldn’t be more proud of his boys because they present themselves as respectable truck drivers. He also said Jeremy is as good of a driver as his daddy was and Phillip considers his dad as having been the best out there, bar none.
Phillip ran his own truck for others and has been driving since 1968, hauling produce, until the start of his company. Jeremy is the oldest of Phillip’s three sons included in the 3rd generation of truckers in their family. Though Jeremy is the oldest, he didn’t start driving immediately after high school but rather took a job working at Publix Super Market for eight years until one day, in the summer of 2000, when he said he wanted to work for the family trucking company. Phillip said to Jeremy, “Doing what?” Jeremy said, “I want to work for you dad, driving truck.” Phillip didn’t bat an eye and went out and bought a truck, the first one Jeremy would run – a 1996 Kenworth T600.
Jeremy has always been a part of the trucking industry and remembers riding with his dad on short runs to the pickup and delivery locations locally. Phillip stated that he tended not to take his boys with him, not because he was concerned about his driving but with the possibility of an accident – he didn’t want to put his boys in harm’s way. Phillip also stated that he rode with his father G.C. all the time from three years old on. Jeremy said his favorite trucking memory with his father was when he was able to go on his first long run up the east coast to Boston and back.
On May 12, 1996, Jeremy married his longtime girlfriend Nicki and today they have three sons – Caleb (21), Carson (19) and Connor (17), and reside in Lakeland, Florida. Nicki also works for Phillip Williams and Sons, doing an assortment of different paperwork tasks, with the most important being booking backhauls for the trucks. Phillip talks of Jeremy’s three boys and states they work hard, with Caleb and Carson already working in the shop. Phillip said he wants his three grandsons to go to college and then, if they still want to drive for the company, he will welcome them in. He doesn’t want it to be like his three sons, who, except for Jeremy, went right to trucking after high school.
The pictured truck (see picture on page 35 of what the truck originally looked like) was the first truck purchased brand new by the company in 2004. This 2005 W900 was the second truck Jeremy ever drove for the company. Jeremy’s younger brother Kris, the second oldest, drives a 2007 Peterbilt 379, and the youngest brother, Justin, drives a 1997 Peterbilt 379. In 2015, Phillip gifted these trucks to his sons, which they each continue to run under the company name. These are three of 17 trucks the company currently runs, in addition to an owner operator, who is leased on with them.
The W900 was shut down in March of 2017 to begin the restoration project. The truck was taken apart and put together in-house, with the exception of the paint work, which was completed by McCall’s Big Rig and Auto Paint & Body out of Lakeland, Florida. By April 2017 most of the work was complete except the paint. The paint booth wasn’t big enough to fit the W900, so it was painted in their shop, but it took approximately three months to complete because it rained every day for almost three months, leaving the air much too humid to properly paint the truck. Once the paint was completed, the truck was put back together by Jeremy, his dad Phillip and Caleb, Jeremy’s oldest son.
As previously mentioned, the truck is a 2005 Kenworth W900 and the truck you see today pulls a 2013 Benson flatbed trailer with a Quick Draw Tarp System. The 550-hp truck boasts a C-15 CAT BXS Acert under the hood with a 13-speed Eaton Fuller transmission, 3:55 rears and a 285” wheelbase. Jeremy installed a Badass Custom Truck Parts fiberglass floor and then had Chrisco Pinstriping out of Dalrico, Florida stripe the dash and floor. The floor was then clear-coated by McCall’s Big Rig and Auto Paint & Body. The truck also has a 12 Ga. Customs visor, 20” Valley Chrome bumper, 7” Dynaflex stacks, Air Ride by Horse, a deck plate by Hall Fabrication out of Auburndale, Florida, and tool and battery box covers from 4 State Trucks out of Joplin, Missouri. All maintenance work, service and repairs are done by Alex at Doyle Repair.
I asked Jeremy why a Kenworth and not a different make, just to see what kind of response I would get, and his response was because Kenworth is what his dad has always liked. Jeremy has dreams of owning a W900A one day to not just have, but to run under loads, as well. I also talked to Jeremy on what advice he would give someone looking to get into the trucking industry with the purchase of their own truck. He said to make sure you have a plan, good work ethic, all your ducks in a row (having the work lined up prior to starting), a safety net and make sure you are making a profit with the freight you haul.
I went to the 75 Chrome Shop truck show for the first time in April of 2018 and caught a glimpse of Jeremy’s truck, but didn’t snap any pictures until the show was over when I saw him and his wife Nicki when they stopped at a restaurant in Webster, Florida. I watched the truck on social media and decided to investigate further on what kind of story Jeremy had to tell. Unbeknownst to me, I hadn’t realized this W900 was much older than I had originally thought.
I am honored to have met Jeremy Williams and his family, and also to have the opportunity to talk to Phillip and hear some awesome stories of trucking’s past. We were fortunate to have the pasture location right near the shop thanks to their neighbor Tim, as well as combo shots done at the home of Preston “Bubba” and Krystal Branch, where we all enjoyed laughs and great conversation among friends.
Great families like this are what continues to ignite my passion for telling people’s stories, including great stories that are multi-generational companies. Though some may wander, it is likely they will return to their roots, like Jeremy did. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Thank you to Jeremy Williams for providing the photo of what the truck originally looked like.