Mercer Transportation, founded by Bill Howard and Jim Stone, has been in business since 1977, based in Louisville, Kentucky. As Brian Helton describes it, “So here’s the crazy part. These guys started up a trucking company and they had zero trucks. And neither one of them drove a truck. But they had the right to haul freight if they could just figure out how to get some trucks.”
What Mercer did back then to get their business off the ground is what is now referred to as trip leasing. Before every load, Stone and Howard would meet each truck driver, inspect their equipment and let them run under their authority for one trip. Once Stone and Howard got a couple of trip leasers, they started telling people they were ready to haul freight. They built a fleet of over 2,000 trucks that way. Just one driver at a time. Nowadays drivers lease on under Mercer’s authority and haul just for Mercer. Mercer now has 2,300 independent contractors hauling freight for them.
While Mercer has many types of freight that they haul, the U.S. Government is their biggest customer for whom they haul military equipment across all 50 states. This was what Jason Miller was hauling when he ended up with Vienna Sausages for dinner a few weeks ago.
As Helton describes it, this is what happened: “Just two weeks ago, when things were just starting to get kind of spooky with COVID-19, we had a driver over in West Virginia, Jason Miller, who had just left home that afternoon and after driving for several hours was ready to get a bite to eat before settling in for the night. It just so happened that he’d hit the road on a day when people in the area were beginning to be concerned about the spread of the coronavirus. Truck stops weren’t really sure how they were going to serve people yet and where Miller had pulled off to purchase a meal, in Richmond, Kentucky, that particular truck stop had temporarily shut down the restaurant and they were in the process of cleaning everything. The employees at the truck stop were in limbo waiting to find out how they were going to proceed to help prevent the spread of the disease. Miller ended up picking up a can of Libby’s Vienna Sausages at a local convenience store to satisfy his hunger for the night: that was dinner. He’s talking to his wife on the phone telling her his whole story of woe and unbeknownst to them, their son, Logan, is eavesdropping on the conversation. The next day, Logan, a thirteen-year-old boy, takes his allowance to Sam’s Club, makes lunches, and goes up to the truck stop near his home and hands out lunches to the truck drivers there at the truck stop. This kid’s spent $100 of his own money, built up from his allowance, to make sure these drivers don’t go hungry. That’s an awesome story from the field.”
“We’re so proud of Logan Miller and grateful to his dad, Jason, and to all the truck drivers out there on the road for our customer, Mercer Transportation. Thank you for making sure supplies are continuing to be transported during this pandemic,” says Donniss Leathers, National Account Manager, WEX.
Here’s a wonderful radio interview with Brian Helton, Logan Miller, and his dad, Jason Miller. (Mercer Owner Operator)
Video of Logan Miller talking about what he did:
Brian Helton, Mercer Transportation, Marketing Department