Known as the highest card in a deck of playing cards, the ace of spades was also part of psychological warfare during the war in Vietnam, but neither of these descriptions represent why it appears on Dean Friday’s truck or why it has been integrated into part of Friday Trucking LLC. The meaning behind the background of the truck number comes from Dean’s love of the band Motorhead and their “Ace of Spades” song. He even named his rig “Lemmy” in honor of the band’s lead singer!
Guttenberg, IA is rich with German influence, and named one of “America’s 20 prettiest towns” by Forbes – it is also home to Dean Friday and his good lookin’ Peterbilt 389. I love learning about history as I write my articles, but this city had me at Peterbilt. I saw this truck for the first time back in February at the 2020 Shine in the Pines truck show in Dublin, GA. I had the opportunity to briefly talk to the owner, Dean Friday, but not long enough to discuss the idea of shooting his truck for a feature.
Being the third generation of his family in the trucking industry, most wouldn’t consider Dean as being a “normal” or traditional third generation trucker. Dean’s grandfather drove until he retired, and his father was a diesel mechanic throughout his early working years, before moving on to working at John Deere in machine maintenance. Dean had a love for trucks and was hooked in his teens when his grandfather brought a fuel tanker home to the farm, which was out in the country. He threw Dean into the truck, and then told him to fire it up and drive it around the yard.
He also didn’t follow the normal routine of turning 18, getting his CDL, and then hitting the highway. Before any of that, he was in the Army from 1986 to 1991, where he specialized and was certified as a wrecker operator and diesel mechanic. This route was a solid avenue for making a good living at the time, and also put Dean in the position of following in his father’s footsteps. During his early years, he worked at several great trucking companies, and at each one he moved up the pay scale (and also moved closer to actually trucking with each new employer).
Even though Dean’s most common job title was diesel mechanic, he also held positions such as a night dispatch assistant, handling night breakdowns, and shop foreman. At his last job, not only was he a mechanic and the shop foreman, but on the weekends, he ran locally hauling milk loads. This same company, G-Line Trucking based out of Dyersville, IA, had a driver quit under a load that was destined for Atlanta, GA and the boss asked if Dean would handle it – and handle it, he did. Five weeks later, he returned home and said he was done busting his knuckles and was ready to get on the road full time.
March 25, 2007, Dean married his wife Arian. Fast forward to September 2016, when they embarked on the new journey of starting their own company and purchasing a 2013 Peterbilt 389. That truck gave them too much grief, so they decided in August 2017 to order a truck to their specifications, one that would be exactly what they wanted.
Going through Fitzgerald, they started with a blank canvas. After being sent a photo of a black 389 chassis, Dean said it was “black as the ace of spades” and, as you can see from the photos, it stuck. They took delivery of the finished truck on December 5, 2017.
The truck is a 2017 Peterbilt 389 Fitzgerald Glider Kit with a 630-hp 12.7 Detroit, an 18-speed transmission, 3:55 rears, and a 275” wheelbase. The black and pearl white rig pulls a 53-foot 2019 Great Dane refrigerated trailer with a Thermo King Precedent S700 unit and features a 12-foot fixed spread axle and has double insulation throughout the trailer. As previously mentioned, Dean and Arian named the truck “Lemmy” after the lead singer of Motorhead, and the trailer’s name is “Kong” because one of the drivers said it was the king of trailers, heavy and big, and it reminded him of King Kong.
Lemmy sports an American Eagle bumper, 8-inch Dynaflex stacks, full Hogebuilt stainless-steel fenders, an Iowa Customs under glow kit, and a 12 Ga. Customs floor. The Cadillac pearl white dash panels and floor were painted by Bob Jaeger of Jaeger Auto Body in Guttenberg, who is also responsible for Friday Trucking’s decals. Dean installed all of the custom accessories himself, including the Motometer hood ornament and hood grab handles.
What makes this truck unique is the attention to detail on the retro “old school cool” paint scheme, which is a variation of the old Tuxedo paint scheme. Dean outfitted the truck with all stainless-steel custom parts, versus fiberglass or plastic, like the big heavy drop fenders on the trailer. All-in-all, the truck is both a head-turner and tastefully done.
Having learned many lessons along the way, Dean models his company after a man who is no longer with us – Bob Tauke of Tauke Transfer in Cascade, IA. Bob would talk to Dean about his company and Dean knew he wanted his trucking company to be the same. Some lessons may not have been learned in the best way possible, but that’s probably why they are never forgotten. When Dean drove for G-Line, he always pulled a reefer trailer, but occasionally a tanker would need to be hauled somewhere, too. An extra load needed to be taken to California. The plan was for Dean to haul it out and then meet one of the other drivers at a rest area for a drop and hook. As many drivers assume, the thing to do when waiting or stopping somewhere is to take a nap behind the steering wheel, or so Dean thought. Dean thought he would grab a quick nap before the other driver arrived, and this became one of those “memorable” training sessions.
This other driver, the one meeting Dean, saw him napping in the driver’s seat when he arrived. Pulling his rig right up in front of Dean’s truck, with the high beams on, he laid on the horn. Dean jumped up and slammed on the brakes (even though he was parked) and was both scared out of his mind and extremely angry. The other driver locked his doors until Dean cooled off and then said that he had just taught him a very valuable lesson – never sleep behind the wheel, because it will create bad habits. Utilize the sleeper for rest, that is what it is meant for. From there on out, Dean made it a point that no matter what, if he was going to rest, he got out of the driver’s seat and went into the bunk.
Since I first saw this well-dressed combination, considering he lived in Iowa, I had been trying to figure out how I could photograph it. With all the shows that have been canceled, my trips to the Midwest were diminishing quickly. As luck would have it, Dean runs to Florida quite a bit, and he ended up delivering in Florida on a Friday, with time to kill over the weekend in Georgia.
The day I shot the truck was a Hail Mary, meaning I wasn’t familiar with the area and I didn’t have any spots picked out. The only thing I knew for certain was I was going to leave my house at 4:30 AM, meet up with him in Pinehurst, GA at the truck stop at 6:30 AM, and photograph him rolling north on I-75 towards Perry, GA at sunrise. That day, the sunrise wasn’t all that impressive, but the rolling pictures definitely were. We made our way to Perry, hoping we might be able to get into the Georgia State Fairgrounds, but were unsuccessful. So, I had him wait on the offramp and I went driving around the area.
The first location I found, with permission from two members of the local law enforcement agency, was at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry. These pictures turned out great, but I really wanted to photograph him at a second location. I mentioned to Dean that I knew of some orchards about a half-hour from Perry and wondered if he would be willing to head up that way to see if we could find a spot around them that would supply us with a good photo opportunity. Lane Southern Orchards is located outside of Fort Valley, GA and there are orchards for days. We managed to find a gravel parking lot with lines of orchards in the background, which was the final location we needed.
Dean said his company is a family, and everyone helps to provide a great image by way of their clean and always presentable trucks. Each driver and owner-operator has an investment in the company, which keeps them all striving for great things. The company is USDA certified and specifically sticks to food-grade commodities, including cheese out of Wisconsin. During good weather, the trucks haul to the northwest, but the majority of their hauling is to Arizona, Texas, and Florida.
I asked Dean what his favorite part of trucking was, and he point blank said the freedom. He loves driving, getting out on the open road, and being in charge of his own destiny. Today, 52-year old Dean still trucks full time, but on his days off, when the weather is nice, you’ll catch him and Arian out on the golf course, enjoying the river on their boat named “Mator Money” (the company hauls a lot of tomatoes), or riding their Harleys. Dean is also the proud father of a 22-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old grandson.
Friday Trucking currently owns a total of 4 trucks, with 3 trucks leased on, and they dispatch anywhere from seven to twelve trucks every week when outside trucks are available for work. All seven trucks have the same ace of spades with their respective truck numbers, and if you pay attention, you’ll see the spade wears a top hat. This hat is actually a coachman’s hat, which is a modified top hat, that was once a familiar sight on the gambling boats of the Mississippi River, the same river Dean and Arian enjoy plenty of time on today. If you spy Dean at a show, you will most likely see him wearing his coachman’s hat.
Arian works in the office and runs the operations, along with Lindsay Corlett, to keep all of the trucks moving and the paperwork in order. All the trucks are maintained by Terry’s Truck and Trailer out of Dyersville, IA, and Dean trusts all of the mechanics there, as he has worked with most of them in the past. Future plans for the trucking company are to keep growing and offer others a good home for trucking.
When asked about any possible advice for new drivers looking to get their own authority, Dean said they should speak to the folks at OOIDA and get a checklist of what needs to be done for a startup. He said to absolutely make sure you have at least three months of running capital set aside to factor the wait time before the money will start coming in. He also spoke of the lease-purchase programs and leasing opportunities out there, saying, “Be wary, because most of the big companies are only in it for themselves, so read that fine print.”
Special thanks to Dean for making the time to hang out for a weekend in Georgia, and to both Dean and Arian for their time on the phone with me, as I gathered the information for this article. The “Ace of Spades” alone may not have the same appeal without the coachman’s hat on top of it, but Friday Trucking’s fleet is definitely recognizable by that logo, along with being some of the cleanest and best-dressed rides going down the road. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.