To celebrate the grand opening of their new truck and trailer repair shop, the folks from HD Equipment in Grand Mound, IA held the “Dirty Business” truck show on July 31 and August 1, 2020. This beautiful facility, which is also the home to C&J Trucking, was the perfect place for a bunch of friends and their cool trucks to get out and enjoy some normalcy. With quarantines, social distancing, closed businesses, and many canceled truck shows, it was obvious that everyone in attendance was ready to relax and have a good time.
Trucks began arriving early in the week. By the time Friday came, we could not have asked for more perfect weather. It was not your typical August weather in eastern Iowa. Normally, this time of year in the Midwest, we are in full swing of the dog days of summer. But because of Hurricane Isais off the East Coast, a high pressure was centered over the middle part of the country, which created fall-like weather. It was cool, with temps in the mid to upper 70s, low humidity, blue skies, and lots of sunshine. Friday and Saturday evening were very pleasant, near perfect, in fact, except for the dang mosquitoes! Sunday, a front moved into the area and brought some much-needed rain.
In addition to the 75 or so trucks, several vendors came to participate in the event and help celebrate the grand opening, including C&J Trucking, HD Equipment, RoadWorks, PDI, Dynaflex, Renegade, Big Strappers Apparel, Roll On Customs, and the Grand Mound Sportsmen’s Club, that provided some delicious food for the entire weekend. Trucks were parked on all sides of the C&J Trucking and HD Equipment buildings, but most were located on the west side of the HD Equipment building. There were many activities that took place on Friday and Saturday, including a light show on Friday evening at dusk that was incredible. When I arrived on Friday, Jay Hawthorne was kind enough to give me a tour of the facility and gave me a golf court to use for the weekend. Thank you, Jay, as you saved this old man from a lot of knee and back pain!
Saturday was packed with several activities. In the morning, truck owners and drivers finished cleaning their trucks so that they could partake in the event’s activities and let attendees admire their gorgeous rides. In the afternoon, a meal was served for all the drivers and their families that consisted of pulled pork, cheese mashed potatoes, and baked beans – an excellent combination! The food was delicious, and being a BBQ aficionado, the pulled pork (with a local sauce) was outstanding. Along with the truckers, hundreds of people from the surrounding area also attended this event. The show and grand opening was fully supported by the community, and I even got to meet and speak with the Mayor of Grand Mound. It was a lively event, and everyone had a great time.
Before dusk on Saturday, “Team 10-4” member John Testa and I did a live stream event on our Facebook page from the show. This has become a very popular thing we try to do while at the shows we attend, and this particular live stream had viewers from all over North and South America, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Jay brought in a band from northern Illinois named the Dirt Rock Band that provided the great musical entertainment for the evening. They played a variety of music – classic country, classic rock, southern rock, and today’s country. The music was loud, the beer flowed, people danced, and everyone had a great time.
To cap off the day, an outstanding firework display, that would rival any 4th of July celebration, took place on Saturday night. I was perched on an embankment in my golf cart in front of the HD Equipment building, admiring the fireworks, with the background of a full moon. It was the perfect way, to end a perfect weekend, for a perfect grand opening of HD Equipment. Rumor has it, there may be another show like this, at this same location, in 2021. Let’s hope so, but it will be a real challenge to top this year’s excellent event!
I would like to continue and add some background information about Jay Hawthorne, his family, and the creation and building of his businesses, since it relates. In his youth, Jay worked with his grandfather and father in their trucking businesses. Like so many others growing up in trucking families, he gained early trucking experience by working on trucks, cleaning trucks, and riding with his grandfather and father over the road. They focused on hauling cattle and other livestock, from Iowa to the stockyards in Chicago, and other points east of Iowa. Jay shared with me that his grandmother was one of the first women in trucking, and that she hauled cattle to Chicago under some special circumstances. Jay showed me framed photos in his office conference room of the trucking fleets owned by his grandfather and father, which I really enjoyed seeing.
After graduating from high school, Jay deviated from the family trucking business and worked for a company called Waterbed Creations that actually got its start in Grand Mound, IA. For those not familiar with waterbeds, they were a very popular thing brought on by the hippies in that late 60s, through the 70s and 80s, up to the 90s. Jay worked for Waterbed Creations as a Jack of all trades. He worked in the shop cutting and creating waterbed frames, finishing the woodwork, loading trucks, driving trucks delivering loads of waterbeds to a variety of businesses, and anything else needed. As an added note, over the years, I owned two waterbeds from Waterbed Creations and loved them!
After leaving Waterbed Creations, Jay went to work for Monsoon Trucking out of Monmouth, IL. He worked there for nine years, starting out as a driver, and then advancing into several other positions within the company. During that time, he became good friends with the owner of the company. He told me some interesting stories from his days at Monsoon Trucking, but to protect the innocent, it’s best I leave those stories out of this article. When things started unraveling at Monsoon, for a variety of reasons, Jay and his wife Cathy decided to return to Grand Mound and start their own trucking company.
C&J Trucking was founded in 1998 in Grand Mound, IA. The initials C&J stand for Cathy & Jay, the wife and husband team of this trucking operation, which still exists today. C&J Trucking currently consists of 30 company trucks and five owner operators. They bought their first building in 2005 in Grand Mound and stayed there until 2019. Along the way, Jay made additions to the original building, but eventually ran out of space. So, he bought this property on Highway 30 west of Grand Mound to erect two new buildings – one for C&J Trucking and one for HD Equipment (which was the reason for this grand opening celebration weekend).
The trucking company has grown steadily since its beginning in 1998. Hauling various things such as lighting for sports venues, robotics for major manufacturing companies, and glass, Jay indicated that the two major ongoing challenges for C&J Trucking is finding good drivers and keeping the company trucks maintained and running. One of the keys to the success of Jay’s business was the hiring of Guthrie Waechter as his right-hand man. Jay was able to lure Guthrie away from Bower Bilt Tires to come and work for him. Guthrie is now the Shop Manager of the HD Equipment facility and is a very hands-on type of leader. He is in charge of managing the workflow of the shop business, training, and managing the shop staff.
HD Equipment was created in 2005 and was originally located in the same building as C&J Trucking. The primary business of HD Equipment is doing truck and trailer repairs on all types and makes of equipment. In addition, they install electric tarps on grain and flatbed trailers, and are an authorized Reitnouer dealer, as well. In conjunction with trailer sales, HD also sells and installs Fast Trak/Sure Tite tarps. The HD Equipment building consists of four bays – one is used for fast repairs, two for trailer and truck repairs, and the fourth is used for truck builds. When it gets busy, truck builds are moved to the side, and this bay is used for truck and trailer repairs, too.
Speaking of truck builds, this is another aspect of Jay’s business – the creative and fun side. He started building trucks in 2007. The first personal build that he created was a purple Peterbilt 379 (his mom picked the color). His second personal build was a 2015 Peterbilt 389 called “It Is What It is!” This truck is a Pride & Class special edition truck, one of twelve built, painted in a black and gray color combination. Jay’s third and most current build is a 2018 Peterbilt 389 glider called “Dirty Business” (which is where the name for the truck show came from). Powered by a big Cummins 600 engine, the truck has a blue, gray, and orange paint scheme, a custom interior, and a matching tarped trailer.
I had a great time at the show and getting to know Jay made it that much better. Jay spoke very highly of his staff and family who help make both C&J and HD Equipment thriving businesses. We would like to thank them for hosting this fun event and making us all feel so welcome – and wish them success and happiness in the years to come.