Keaton Giza has something cool in common with 10-4 Magazine – his birth date is 10-4 (2000). He says that his birth date was a sign that he was meant to be a trucker. So, on the date of 10-4, he not only celebrates his birthday, but he also celebrates “10-4 Day” (our official trucker holiday)! I met Keaton at the Lifetime Nut Covers (LNC) truck show in Britt, IA over Labor Day weekend 2020. I was originally made aware of his new truck build by a polisher from Evan’s Detailing & Polishing who told me this truck was going to be at the LNC truck show and strongly encouraged me to check it out – he called it the Giza truck, but I like to call it “Black Beauty” for obvious reasons.
Attending the LNC truck show and representing 10-4 Magazine, after the first day of the show, I stopped to grab takeout dinner at the Rib Crib in Mason City, IA. As I was waiting for my dinner, someone spoke my name from a nearby table. I walked over to the table and met Jesse Giza, the father of Keaton. He then introduced me to Keaton, his girlfriend Destiny, and Keaton’s brother Tyler. We talked while I was waiting for my order and they told me about the 2020 Peterbilt they had recently purchased and built. Based on the previous recommendation I had got and what they were telling me, I was very interested to see this truck. I told them that I would stop and check it out at the truck show the next day.
But first, a little background history about Keaton and his family. Coming from a long line of truckers, trucking runs deep in Keaton’s blood and in his soul. His great grandfather, Kenny Calvin, started trucking back in the 1940s, and owned his own trucking and hog buying business until he retired in 1988. Both of Keaton’s grandfathers are truckers and have given him much advice and opinions over the years. Keaton’s father Jesse and mother Amber met in 1996 and have been together ever since.
Jesse, Keaton’s dad, started in the lawn mowing business in 1998. Jesse purchased the landscaping business from his uncle in 2000. As the landscaping business grew and became more diverse, Jesse purchased his first truck to use in the business – a 1957 Chevy single axle dump truck. As the business continued to grow, he purchased an International dump truck. In 2006, Jesse purchased his first semi – a green 1998 Peterbilt with a 48” sleeper and 3406E Cat engine. He used this Pete to haul his landscaping and construction equipment, which then consisted of a backhoe, a small Cat dozer, two trailers, a lowboy and a side dump trailer. Jesse also used the ‘98 Peterbilt to pull equipment for other contractors. They still have this truck today, and it is another project truck that they plan to rebuild in the future.
As the business grew, Jesse bought a 2002 blue Peterbilt he used to haul for local counties, rock quarries, and heavy equipment for other contracting businesses. This was the primary focus of Jesse’s business from 2008 to 2012. Keaton recalled that, during this time, money was pretty tight because of the downturn of the economy. Starting in 2012, Jesse’s business focus started to move away from landscaping and more into earth work and site preparation for new construction. Keaton emphasized that Jesse’s business does no structural construction work. Their primary focus was on site and utility preparation. Later, the business branched out to include rock crushing and grinding for recycling landscape material for mulch.
Keaton and his brother Tyler were raised in the Creston public school system until the end of seventh grade. Because of some concerns their parents had with the public schools, they made the hard decision to pull their boys out and begin homeschooling them. While being home schooled, the brothers did online classes in the morning and then worked with their parents’ businesses in the afternoon. Especially working in and around the big trucks, Keaton quickly became a workaholic – he loves to work and make money. In school, he was not involved with sports because he was more interested in working with the family business. Early on, working for his parents’ business, Keaton learned to drive trucks by moving trailers with a yard truck and moving trucks into the repair shop. Keaton told me that he likes to work with his hands, doing physical labor, and working on equipment.
The first truck assigned to Keaton was a 2011 orange and black Peterbilt. He hauled small equipment with a flat bed or drop deck trailer and pulled a side dump hauling dirt. After that, he moved into his first heavy haul truck – a white 2015 Peterbilt named “Hercules” pulling a 4-axle trailer. He quickly graduated to pulling RGN and low boy trailers with the same white Pete. To add to his resume, Keaton started pulling 9-axle trailers in 2019, and his natural ability to maneuver these large loads in tricky situations earned him high praise.
In 2013, Jesse was provided with an opportunity to get into the wind farm hauling business. His trucks started out by moving equipment used in building wind farms and hauling component parts for the wind turbine engines. Over the past several years, the family trucking business has grown from six trucks to nearly 70 trucks and 120 trailers. In 2019, they grew to a high of 88 trucks, including some leased owner operators. They recently branched out again, taking on a pipe laying project, which required them to purchase Vermeer horizontal drilling equipment.
Besides driving trucks, Keaton and his brother also do mechanical and fabrication work on all their equipment. They currently have a 60,000 square foot shop with three full-time mechanics, two part-time mechanics, ten full-time employees working in the office, and 65 people who work in the field driving trucks and operating equipment. In addition, they have a mobile work truck and two service trucks, a Freightliner and Ford F350. These trucks are used in the field to work on issues like lights, electrical, tire fixes, simple mechanical repairs, fuel filter replacements, and brake chamber problems.
Keaton provided interesting details about the truck build for his new 2020 black Peterbilt, featured here, which was built as a 20-year anniversary heavy haul commemorative truck. After purchasing the 389 Peterbilt from Lafayette Peterbilt in Scott, LA, Jesse and Keaton decided to make several upgrades to the truck to give it some show truck qualities for a working heavy hauler. The truck was sent to Nu-Gen Services in Port Allen, LA, where many of these updates and upgrades were made or added.
While at Nu-Gen, the company fabricated an aluminum deck plate, that was then coated with bed-liner material, along with a custom rear T-bar, and interior stainless light plates. They also fitted the truck with a Nu-Gen wet kit. Next, they installed several TRUX dual revolution lights in the rear, Grand General LED marker and underside lighting, United Pacific glass watermelon lights, and a 50” LED work light, that is mounted on the bunk. Other additions included stainless step box covers from 4 State Trucks, a Lincoln Chrome front bumper, a 12 Ga. grill, a stainless RLK visor, WTI single hump rear fenders, and a set of 8” Dynaflex pipes. Nu-Gen completed this extensive upgrade and customization work in just 30 days.
The black Pete was then taken to Peterbilt of Joplin for several additional upgrades, including installing a 4-speed auxiliary transmission, removing the sleeper grab handles, and repairing the rear of the sleeper. This work took a total of two weeks to complete. After six weeks of upgrade work at Nu-Gen Services and Peterbilt of Joplin, the truck was then taken back to their own shop for the finishing touches, which included replacing the mud flaps, doing the final touch-up work, and a thorough cleaning and detailing of the truck.
All this work was completed just in time for the Lifetime Nut Cover show in Britt, IA (September 2020). The objective of this build was to buy a quality truck and then make upgrades that would enhance the looks and functionality of the rig. In my view, the mission was accomplished! It should be noted that Keaton had a lot of input in building this truck that he would eventually drive. The 2020 Peterbilt 389 was a show truck for a short period of time, but after the show in Iowa, it began its life devoted to heavy hauling, hard work, and running in difficult conditions.
Plans for the company from 2021 and beyond are to diversify the heavy hauling operation, along with material hauling, step deck, drop deck, and RGN equipment hauling, grain hauling, farm field tilling and terracing, custom lime farm field applications, general earth work, custom concrete for business and residential applications, and horizontal boring for utility companies. Keaton has a goal of someday taking over and managing the family business, and with his drive and work ethic, I’m sure he will eventually accomplish that goal.
Crediting his parents for much of the successes in his life, Keaton was taught the value of hard work at an early age. He is thankful for his parents and all they have provided him. Another one of Keaton’s big influences, regarding trucking and life in general, is his friend and mentor, Greg Campbell. I asked Keaton what he liked most about being a trucker, and his response was that he likes the independence and relationships he has built along the way. He considers himself to be old school and sort of an outlaw. Having met and spent time with him, I believe he fits that mold.
What Keaton likes least about trucking is people judging him because of who he is, his profession, and his love of trucks and the trucking life. He said that some in his profession have judged him because he drives and operates nice equipment. They sometimes suggest that it was given to him, but he is quick to tell those unbelievers that he has worked very hard and earned what he has in life. Finally, he stated that he is frustrated with some in his generation because he feels many don’t want to work hard to earn the life America has to offer them. He further said that many young people from his generation feel entitled and expect things to be given to them.
During our conversation, Keaton provided some insight on another truck build that he and his dad Jesse are now working on. This one is a 2019 Galaxy Blue Peterbilt glider they are building, but I will not say any more than that, because it could be a future story. Stay tuned! Meeting Keaton, Jesse, and Tyler at the Lifetime Nut Cover truck show in Britt, IA was a real treat for me. I am thankful that I got to meet them and get to know them. It was a privilege for me to do a photo shoot of their 2020 “Black Beauty” Peterbilt 389 heavy hauler and showcase it here in 10-4 Magazine. This hard-working family has created much success, but more important than that, they take pride in their business and the equipment they own and operate – and it shows – especially in this truck.