Fatjack’s – Diesel Smoke & Dreams
Dave grew up around trucks as his dad was a trucker dating back to the 1940s. At the young age of 18, he began trucking in the early-1960s. Dave went on the road full-time in 1965 and became an owner-operator in 1967 with a Crackerbox GMC and 238 Detroit Diesel. In 1969 he bought a long wheelbase GMC Astro which turned out to be a great truck, so he hung on to it. As a result of sharply rising operating costs, due mostly to the infamous fuel crisis in 1974, and no increase in rates, he sold out in the late-1970s and became a company driver. As a company driver, Dave only drove for four different companies - Kopf Trucking in Goshen, Indiana; Leprino Transportation in Denver, Colorado; and NW Transport in Denver. When NW shut down, Dave moved to Ohio and went to work for Roadway Express. Roadway was a good company, but not as good as NW, plus he missed running team, but he stayed with it. In late-2005, Dave was forced off the road due to health issues.
During all the years that Dave lived in Colorado, he ran team as a company driver, beginning at Leprino Transportation Div. of Leprino Foods, and then moved to NW Transport. Dave and his partner Bill ran together for over 11 years at both Leprino and NW. They are still good friends today and frequently keep touch, in fact, they are like a brothers. Dave loved trucking in the West, and he and Bill pulled a lot of triples (3 freight pup trailers) throughout the West. At one time or another, he and Bill trucked over most of the mountain passes in Colorado, but they ran over Wolf Creek Pass many times. Over the years, Colorado has done a lot of work on Wolf Creek Pass, so it’s not as bad as it used to be, but westbound it’s still tough. At Leprino they had a Jake brake, but did not at NW, so pulling doubles over Wolf Creek, grossed out in weight with no engine brake was not an easy job, but they both loved it.
Fortunately, Dave trucked through what he refers to as “The Glory Years” of trucking. As he looks back, he simply says “It’s been a long road.”
Fatjack’s – Diesel Smoke & Dreams is a small mom and pop internet-based business based on a gravel road in rural Southwest Indiana. We never intended for this to happen! I had a sideline business selling antique glass and collectibles, but no longer had the time to devote to it, so I changed over to diecast trucks to keep my husband happy. Next Dave moved to producing truck photo albums on CD, and next he moved into publishing truck and train photo books. Due to 4 strokes, a heart attack, and severe arthritis, Dave is somewhat disabled, but he is a great advisor for me running the business.
I was fifty years old when I met Dave, and he was in his late-fifties. The name of the business was my idea and originally Fat Jack, who was a leading character in a novel that Dave wrote many years ago, and it eventually became his nickname. But Dave always liked the trail of smoke from a truck, and even today remembers some of the dreams he had when young. So I put it all together as Fat Jack’s Diesel Smoke and Dreams, as a person driving a truck, watching the blowing smoke, and having dreams, and then tweaked it a little as a place rather than a person as Fatjack’s – Diesel Smoke & Dreams. Dave loved it and we stayed with it.
We have our little corner carved out here in the country, and this is where we’ll stay. I actually enjoy providing personal service to my customers. The bottom line is I treat our customers like I would like to be treated as a customer; and I couldn’t ask for a better advisor.
Anna P. Bontrager