Though it wasn’t common in years past, women have become part of the trucking industry, and most of them not only do their jobs, but they do them well. Pauline “Polly” Hylton (64) is one of those women who wasn’t born into the industry, but you wouldn’t know it by the way she handles her 6-axle Kenworth dump truck. She is requested on job sites not only because she works hard, but because she is good at it, too!
Polly grew up in the Painesville, OH area with no trucking background. In fact, her background is actually in accounting and office work. Her life, as she knew it, started to change when she met KY Hylton, owner of Hylton Trucking, at Morton Salt in Grand River, OH. On September 15, 1979, Polly and KY were married, and in 1981 they welcomed their son, Tony. When Tony was born, the company name changed to KY Hylton & Son Trucking.
KY would haul salt in the winter, and the first winter he and Polly were married was rough. That winter was very mild, and he only hauled six loads of salt that whole season. The newlyweds did whatever they had to do to make the truck payment and the insurance premium, including building furniture. KY would haul any kind of load that came available, no matter what time of the day that it was.
Most truck drivers started driving as soon as someone could teach them then obtained their CDL at age 18. Not the case for Polly. Polly and KY found a 1970 Mack that was sitting in the weeds. They purchased the truck, that was equipped with twin sticks, for $1,000. After going through the entire truck and repainting it, Polly was behind the wheel learning how to drive it in the summer of 1987. KY taught Polly how to drive and said if she can learn to drive twin sticks, then she will be able to drive anything. Polly admitted that it was definitely a sight to witness when shifting two sticks. She would have her left arm through the steering wheel to shift one stick with her left hand while shifting the other stick with her right. Some might say that she was destined to drive, even though she wasn’t born into the industry, because she caught onto driving really quick.
In 1993, Polly came off the road to run another business she and KY started, Kuntry Boy Supply, to sell sand, gravel, and mulch. She continued doing this until 1996, when they added a truck shop called KY’s Truck Repair, where Polly was hands-on in the shop. Over the years, she had worked alongside KY plenty and learned how to pull motors and transmissions. In 1999, KY and Polly decided to sell the two companies and just do trucking full-time, which is when Polly began her paving career.
Today, you would see seasoned drivers teaching other drivers how to pave while riding along with them, but not Polly – she showed up on the job site and the crew taught her how. The crews already knew her skill level with the other materials she would haul, so they knew she could be taught and was fully capable of paving.
After years of riding along, washing trucks, and helping with shop work, their son Tony started working for KY Hylton & Son Trucking in 2000, driving a 1996 Kenworth T800 6-axle dump truck. In spring of 2003, the company purchased a brand-new 2003 Kenworth W900 6-axle dump truck, which Tony drove through the summer of 2004 when, at that point, he was offered a job he couldn’t refuse at the local township for the road department. Polly took over driving the W900 in 2005 and has been in that truck ever since.
In 2008, KY opted to retire and Polly, not wanting to quit driving, took over the company, but it was renamed Hylton & Son Enterprises LLC. When Polly started this company, it was started with the previously mentioned 2003 Kenworth W900 6-axle dump truck, the same truck you see pictured here today. This dump truck is CAT powered with a C15, 18-speed transmission, 4.33 ratio, 44,000-pound rear ends, and a 20-foot East aluminum dump body.
This dump truck has a factory 8-bag air ride, wood grain laminate flooring, a RoadWorks sun visor, and Panelite lights. The truck is parked for the winter, since the paving season goes from around the beginning of April until the snow flies. In the winter of 2017-2018, a 6-inch cab extension was added, the dump body was replaced (it was purchased new with an East dump body) with a new East dump body, and Tony painted the entire cab a darker from the original viper red color. The next change came in the winter of 2021-2022, with the addition of the flames, done by Mike Fitzpatrick of Designfitz out of Streetsboro, OH.
I asked Polly about the “Country Girl” on her bug deflector, and she joked that “I’m the only one in the family that could spell.” KY’s 1977 Kenworth W900A that he purchased brand new, which Tony now owns (our September 2017 cover truck), has “Kuntry Boy” on the bug deflector, and Tony is known as the “Kuntry Kid” by most people in their area.
I asked her son Tony how he would describe his mother and he plainly stated, “She’s one of the best.” He went on to explain that she is very diversified when it comes to the industry because she not only knows how to drive a truck, but work on them, as well. One would never know that she didn’t grow up in the trucking industry. Polly takes her job seriously and is dedicated to always doing her very best.
Polly is well respected on the crews, even so far as they watch their language when she is present. In her mind, there is no signing out early from a job and she is religious in her post-trip inspections. When she arrives at home, she lets the truck cool down, then one of Tony’s sons (Garrett or Mason) usually run out to greet grandma and help her check the tires. Polly fuels every evening, so she is ready to go the next morning. Not only is she a capable driver, but she knows her truck and knows when the brakes or the clutch needs to be adjusted. She maneuvers her truck around any job site and can get the truck into anywhere.
Today, Polly remains at the top of her game with a willingness to help when and wherever needed. She still resides with KY in Garrettsville and is the proud mother of Tony, as well as her two stepdaughters, Melissa and Debbie. Not only that, but she also has a total of ten grandkids and five great-grandchildren! Her biggest influence in the industry and in life is her husband KY. He would work 24/7 with driving and then do truck maintenance on the weekends – and Polly was right out there with him. KY has had a solid work ethic all his life and lives by the line “If the Lord made sure I didn’t get sick, then I’d make it.” Truck maintenance is done on the weekends and Polly knows her truck like the back of her hand. Tony helps with maintenance and will sometimes drive on Saturdays or when Polly has an appointment she needs to go to during the week.
Polly isn’t looking to retire anytime soon because she loves what she does. Even though KY is retired, he supports Polly in many ways, including the sweet gesture of bringing her lunch either at the job site or at the plant where she is loading. The crews take good care of her, and, in return, she is reliable and hard-working to get the job done, whether it be paving freeways, parking lots, or city/state roads. She is also the number one broker for Ronyak Paving out of Burton, OH, who she appreciates working with. When she isn’t paving, she hauls stone and gravel for the plant.
When Polly started paving, there weren’t many women doing what she does, but she has been able to watch that change. She enjoys paving because there is an art to it, and the getting dirty aspect is overlooked because she enjoys doing it. She admits that she has learned plenty over the years, including some of the tricks of the trade, and being able to pass down what she has learned to others. Polly’s only complaint about what she does is one of the new mixes she hauls, which is really sticky/gummy, and sticks to the inside of the box. This line of work is not for those who want a 9-5 job, as the hours are usually sunup to sundown, and often six days a week.
Special thanks from Polly to her husband KY for getting her into this family-oriented business, and to her son Tony, for his continued help. Growing up around the trucks and working alongside his parents, Tony has a vast knowledge of the trucks.
I met Polly for the first time in July of 2017 when I had traveled to Garrettsville, OH. My trip was to meet up with Polly’s son Tony and his wife Beth to photograph the previously mentioned 1977 Kenworth A-Model and to tell their (and their truck’s) story. I was able to talk to Polly briefly during that stay and hear from her and Tony what her work consisted of, along with the history of the previously mentioned A-Model. Tony spoke to me more about his mom and the work that she does during my visit with he and his family in the middle of 2021. A trip to Ohio was planned and executed at the end of April this year (2022).
Tony and Beth Hylton are some of the best friends money can’t buy, and I appreciate their friendship more than words can explain. Thank you to both of them, as well as their boys, Adam, Garrett, and Mason (pictured with Polly and KY below), for welcoming me into their family. Thank you to Polly for allowing me this opportunity and having the truck on point, as usual, when I photographed it. Thanks to Keystone Wheel Polishing out of Somerset, PA, as well. Many can do things, but it is entirely another thing when you are good at it. Being good at something is provoked not only by a desire to be proficient, but having the passion to do it, too. As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.