Getting advice from your elders can sometimes be hard to take, especially when you are young. But when that advice comes from people you look up to and respect, it is a little easier to accept. Just ask Mike Green of Yuma, AZ. Mike came from a great pedigree – his father Bill and his grandpa Don taught him not only how to truck, but to live, as well, and they always gave him great advice and support. These two men helped steer Mike to where he is today – a successful and respected business owner, with a thriving family and an amazing collection of (mostly) old trucks!
Growing up, Mike’s father Bill had some challenges right from the start. Unfortunately, he lost both of his parents by the time he was 13 years old, but that never stopped him from pressing on. Bill’s solid work ethic and energetic drive kept him, for the most part, out of trouble, and he was determined to carry on with optimistic ambitions. This good attitude got Bill through his tough teen years, and eventually to meeting his future wife, Donalyn, in the 1950s. These two hit it off immediately, and soon discovered they made a good team.
Donalyn’s father, Don Waud, was involved in the trucking industry, and not only made a huge impression on Bill, but also took Bill under his wing. By the time Bill and Donalyn got married in 1957, Don had already taken Bill in as one of his own, and with no parents of his own alive, it was easy for Bill to accept Don as his elder, too. Don later taught Bill how to drive and introduced him to trucking, which would forever change not only his life, but his future child’s life, too.
A few years after getting married, Bill and Donalyn gave birth to their first child, a son they named Mike, and it didn’t take long for Bill to realized that he now had a lifelong best buddy. Mike Green was born in San Diego, CA in 1960, and he immediately showed just as much drive and determination as his father and his grandfather. Heck, by the time Mike was four years old, he was riding around in grandpa Don’s 1956 White, which was bought for Don new by the company he drove for, Growers’ Marketing in San Diego.
Grandpa Don taught Bill how to drive in his 1956 White, so it holds a special place in the family. Grandpa Don made one hell of an impression on young Mike Green, that is for sure. Grandpa Don ran that ‘56 White between San Diego, CA and Nogales, AZ, and occasionally ran it up to Portland, OR and into California’s San Joaquin Valley, as well. Growing up, Mike heard plenty of “trucker stories” from Grandpa Don about what he called the Ridge Route (now known as the Grapevine) on I-5 north of Southern California.
Around the time Bill and Donalyn got married in 1957, Bill, who already had the trucking bug, went to work for Safeway (a grocery store chain) in San Diego. A few years after Mike was born, Bill decided to buy a truck – a 1963 Freightliner cabover single axle with a Cummins VT903. Bill only kept this truck for about one oil change, due to the engine being so problematic, and then bought a new Peterbilt cabover single axle to pull his hay doubles. Bill hauled hay until around 1966, at which point his brother Luther talked him into getting involved with the recreational vehicle business as a salesman.
Working hard, as always, Bill did very well in the RV business, while still operating a small trucking company, as well. By the mid to late 60s, Bill and Donalyn operated between four and five trucks, hauling hay and wallboard. Donalyn managed the books and did all the paperwork, and Bill kept the trucks loaded and moving.
By this time, young Mike, who loved going down to the shop with his dad and hanging out with his grandpa, could not get enough of those trucks. If Mike wasn’t in school, he was either at the shop or out riding with his dad or grandpa. He often went out with his dad’s number one driver locally, and sometimes even went to New Mexico or Texas. Mike’s first experience driving came at age 13, while on a trip from San Diego – he will never forget wheeling that rig from Yuma to the New Mexico border while the driver slept.
While still in high school, Mike started hauling hay with a 1973 Mack cabover with a 270 Cummins backed by a 6-speed Spicer, which Bill purchased, every day after school. Mike would pick up hay in El Centro then haul it back to local dairies around the San Diego area each afternoon. All he wanted to do was drive trucks. Mike even considered dropping out of school. When grandpa Don found out about that, he decided to have a little sit-down with Mike, explaining to him how he had driven trucks for over 40 years, but when he went to the local city garbage service to apply for a job they couldn’t hire him because he did not have a high school diploma. This great advice sunk in with Mike, who proudly received his diploma just a few years later.
After graduating high school in 1978, Mike was now free to get on with his life – and at this point, life was pretty good. Bill owned a local feed store in San Diego, operated several trucks and sold RVs. Mike and Bill purchased a new brown 1979 Freightliner cabover with a Detroit Silver 92 for Mike with all the bells and whistles, and he was on cloud nine! Mike had a great time in this truck and couldn’t believe how nice air conditioning felt. In 1983, Bill decided to sell the trucks and feed store, and Mike went to work for Bud’s Trucking, driving a brand new 1984 Peterbilt 359 transfer. This was the first rig Mike ever drove with a hood, and he loved it!
A few years later, Mike decided to enter the RV sales industry, but it didn’t take long for him to realize that his grandpa and dad were right – his heart belonged in a truck! Mike happily went back to trucking, getting a driving job for a local ready-mix company, hauling out of Escondido. Thinking he had too much extra time on his hands, he decided to buy a 1985 Peterbilt 359 and do some hay-hauling on the side. Although these were good times in Mike’s memory, after four years of that, he began to get tired and was looking for a change.
About that same time, in 1991, after working in the RV industry for many years, Mike’s parents moved to Yuma, AZ and opened their own RV lot. The following year, Bill and Donalyn offered Mike the opportunity to move to Yuma and help with their small RV lot called RV World. Mike decided to take them up on their offer and headed to Yuma with everything he owned on the back of his 1985 Peterbilt 359. Not long after arriving in Yuma, Mike went all-in at the dealership, even selling his last truck, that prized 1985 Peterbilt 359.
The 1990s were very explosive for RV World and the Green family. In 1996, their 2-acre RV sales lot grew into a 14-acre facility when Bill and Mike purchased a 12-acre piece of property next to theirs. With this expansion, the Green’s family business was becoming a great partnership and true success story, but Bill and Mike both still had their hearts tied up in trucks and trucking.
When the new century rolled around, Bill and Mike finally began buying trucks again, only this time, they mostly bought old trucks. In September of 2001 they bought a dark green 1964 extended butterfly hood Pete transfer, and from there the collection just grew. In 2004, Mike joined forces with the love of his life and lifelong friend Kris, and along with Mike’s two kids, Jared and Kaylyn, and Kris’ two boys, Tyler and Taylor (Taylor had worked with Mike for almost a decade), everyone came together as a family, and all was good.
In 2008, Bill had the idea to buy four sets of hopper trailers to use as rentals. This idea also gave him some trucking time, as the trailers were built in Woodland, CA at PT Welding, and Bill would have to go pick them up and move them around, from time to time. Bill and Mike developed a relationship with PT Welding and, over the years, they built their rental fleet up to 30 sets of hopper trailers. Bill was trucking back and forth to Woodland a couple times a week, in an older Freightliner, with Mike’s mom riding shotgun, shuttling trailers back and forth. With that in mind, Mike decided it was time for mom and dad to get a more comfortable rig to drive.
The truck Mike bought his parents was a new white 2-axle 2011 Pete 389, which really smoothed out their ride. They even sent the truck to Brent at Brent’s Custom Trucks to get a few goodies added. Their trailers were, and still are, worked in Yuma for the wheat season, and then moved to Woodland for the rice harvest. The Green’s operation in Yuma, AZ is also a factory outlet and dealer for PT Welding, which builds hay trailers, ag trailers and hopper trailers. Bill drove this white Peterbilt up until about six months before his passing, at 81 years old, in July of 2018.
Carrying the torch after Bill’s passing, Mike and his wife Kris run RV World. Started in 1991 on two acres with eight employees, today RV World encompasses 22 acres and has about 85 employees. Maintaining an inventory of over 400 new and used RVs at their location along I-8 in Yuma, AZ, the dealership also has an award-winning parts and service department, with 14 full-service bays that can accommodate up to 21 RVs at once. This business keeps Mike extremely busy, but he still likes to play with trucks.
Mike’s classic truck collection now has over 50 trucks, including his original green 1964 Pete transfer, another dark green 1965 2-axle Peterbilt, a red 1979 Pete 359 with a Seminole paint scheme and 348,000 original miles on the KTA 450 Cummins under the hood, an old rusty (patina) 1949 GMC, a yellow 1981 Freightliner cabover with a 92 Series Detroit, and so many more. He also has a couple modern trucks, including dad’s white Peterbilt 389 and a 2009 Peterbilt 389 called “Miss Violet” customized by Brent’s Custom Trucks. Before Bill died, Mike was able to locate and buy his grandfather’s original 1956 White, which he also taught Bill to drive in. Restoring the truck now, Mike only wishes that it could have been finished before his dad passed away.
Recently, the Green Family hosted their 5th annual “Old Truck Open House” at their facility in Yuma, AZ. With over 50 new and classic trucks in attendance, it was the first open house without Mike’s father Bill, which made it extra special and memorable for Mike and the rest of the Green family.
Mike is extremely grateful to have the daily support from his wife Kris, mother Donalyn and their entire family and friends. He is also grateful to have had the best mentors any guy could ever have – his dad Bill Green and his grandpa Don Waud. This article is dedicated to these men, in remembrance of all that great advice they gave Mike over the years – advice he hopes to pass on to the next generation, as well.