How much do things change in a century? How many companies can not only survive but also continue to prosper for that length of time? One company, Jones Motor Co., Inc., has proven to have exactly that kind of staying power. It isn’t the same as when it started but one thing has remained constant, Jones Motor knows the trucking business. In a time when many are closing their doors, Jones continues to prove that it is innovative and progressive enough to remain a leader in a difficult industry. In July of 1991, noted trucking historian Mike Terebecki confirmed that Jones Motor is the oldest major common carrier in the United States and this distinction is a source of great pride. “In an industry that few would dispute has had its share of fly-by-night operations, Jones Motor has earned a reputation as a stable and reliable company that provides quality service. This company has not only survived but has grown and prospered. I think that says a lot about the company’s culture and spirit.”
HISTORY BEGINS IN 1894
The foundation for the Jones Motor of today was laid in 1894 by John Jones, an immigrant from Birkenhead, Wales. It began as a local hauling business in Spring City, PA and was called Jones Drayage Company. Its entire fleet – one sturdy horse coupled to a cart. Jones expanded his business by signing on additional horses and wagons and sidelining into excavation work. He continued to build, laying the groundwork for a diversified, stable company. In 1912, he purchased the company’s first motor truck. Along with this purchase, Jones expanded his business to general hauling and motor freight. The fleet continued to grow. Eventually his sons, William, Clifford and Russell joined the family business and it became known as John Jones and Sons. With John Jones’ death in 1925, his sons took full reign of the business and renamed it Jones Motor Company. Through the 1940’s and 1950’s Jones Motor Company prospered. They purchased numerous companies to get additional authority and they expanded their General Commodities Division into both LTL and truckload. The Special Commodities Division, an owner-operator truckload operation was started in 1961. By 1968, when the Jones family sold the company to New York City based Alleghany Corporation, Jones Motor was a $51 million company. Though changes to the company happened steadily, the most dramatic occurred in quick succession: in 1980, deregulation; in 1981, the General Commodities division closed, and the company became exclusively owner-operator; and in 1982, the company went back to private ownership. The century of experience certainly paid off. Jones Motor continued to grow, forming additional companies to serve many different types of customer needs. Today, the company has grown into a group of companies called the Jones Motor Group with annual revenue over $100 million. The Group’s core company, however, is still Jones Motor, an exclusively owner-operator carrier with both flatbeds and vans.
DIVERSIFICATION PART OF JONES’ SUCCESS
The Jones Motor Group has adapted to the changing industry by recognizing its customers’ needs and providing quality service. James J. Koegel, President of the Jones Motor Group, explains the theory. “We watch the market for niches where a quality, owner-operator based carrier can fill the specific needs of a customer and then we put all the pieces together within our existing infrastructure. This can be as simple as recruiting owner-operators with a unique type of equipment or as complex as adding a new company to the Jones Motor Group.” One such company was Hot Shot Express, established in 1985. In a time when few had even heard of hot shots, the Jones Motor Group broke new ground by establishing the nation’s first and only exclusively owner-operator hot shot company. Although the first years were difficult as Hot Shot developed a customer base and overcame the resentment toward hot shot trucks, their foresight was rewarded. In the first five years of operation, Hot Shot Express’ revenue increased seven-fold and their fleet grew to approximately 250 trucks.
SERVICE A PRIORITY
“Making it work” boils down to employees and owner-operators. “This is a reputable company and that reputation comes from the people within the organization. Customers know that Jones Motor Group provides quality service and our employees and owner-operators not only take pride in that reputation but are zealous about proving it is true. Service is all the company has to sell and its people go the extra mile to insure that we maintain the quality that has been our trademark through more than a century.”
The Jones Motor Group goes one step further in delivering quality service and that is to extend its customer mindset to the owner-operators who are the heart and soul of the organization. “When our owner-operators are successful, the company is successful. That is the premise on which we have developed our programs and on which we base our management decisions,” says Mr. Koegel. Those programs include the Contractor’s Winner’s Circle which allows individual owner-operators to benefit from the buying power of the Group; daily settlements which get payments to the owner-operator as fast as anyone in the industry; and a variety of pay plans that provide choices to the owner-operator. Well into its second century, Jones Motor does not sit on its laurels but continues to be innovative and progressive, always looking for the next opportunity. Visit the company’s website www.jonesmotor.com to learn more about the Jones Motor Group.