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FreightWaves Classics: Dick Simon Trucking, Inc. had a scent all its own

From the FreightWaves Online Haul of Fame

Simon Transport is a "descendant" of Dick Simon Trucking. Photo: Simon Transport

FreightWaves Classics articles focus on various aspects of the transportation industry’s history. If there are topics you think would be of interest, please send them to [email protected]

This article was originally written for the FreightWaves Haul of Fame. To see other FreightWaves Haul of Fame articles, follow this link.

Richard (Dick) Simon grew up in Provo, Utah, in a family of truckers and developed a healthy love of the industry. In 1955, Dick Simon sold his new car to buy a two-ton tractor and a 32-foot trailer, channeling his love into a start in the trucking industry. His first trip was hauling feed from Provo to southern California ranchers and then returning with a load of fish meal from Long Beach.

Dick Simon in 1955 with his first truck.
Photo: Simon Transport, Inc.

When his first truck gave out, he continued his business while borrowing trucks from other owners. In 1963, Simon was able to purchase his first diesel truck and refrigerated trailer that would become the foundation for his business. 

For 17 years, Simon was driving non-stop. “By the time I was 35 I couldn’t do it anymore,” he said.  In 1972, exhausted by the pace, he ended his sole proprietorship and incorporated Dick Simon Trucking. That began the expansion of the fleet. 

Trucking deregulation helps Dick Simon Trucking

Motor carrier deregulation was a key part of a sweeping reduction in price controls, entry controls and collective vendor price setting in United States transportation. It began in 1970-71 with initiatives in the Nixon administration, continued through the Ford and Carter administrations, and continued into the 1980s. Collectively, these actions deregulated large sectors of the U.S. economy.

Deregulation of the trucking industry began with the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which was signed into law by President Carter on July 1, 1980.

The company was growing, and in addition to deregulation taking place in 1980, Dick’s son, Lyn, began assisting his father in the office.

A Dick Simon Trucking tractor-trailer rig.
Photo: Craig Wendt

While deregulation made the 1980s a challenging time for much of the trucking industry, it was a time of prosperity for Dick Simon Trucking. By the early 1980s, Dick Simon Trucking had expanded its fleet to include 26 trucks. 

In 1985, after five years at the company, Lyn became the vice president of sales for Dick Simon Trucking, Inc.

Further expansion occurred after a contract with a grocery store required a doubling of the fleet size. By 1988, the company’s fleet had grown to 97 tractors and 225 trailers. The company trailers were painted with skunks holding “Sweet Simon” flags, saluting a large perfume account that had given the company’s refrigerated trailers a sweet scent. 

The logo of Dick Simon Trucking, Inc.

As 1990 ended, Dick Simon Trucking reported $31 million in annual revenues. By 1994, the company reported over $70 million in annual revenues. In 1996, the company was taken public. The money from the initial public offering was used to trade-in several old tractors and purchase 650 new ones. That year, Dick Simon Trucking shipped its first load into Mexico. 

Growth continued, and by 1998, the company owned nearly 1,650 tractors and had gained several business contracts as a result of its expansions. Soon, the company was able to boast over 2,500 pieces of equipment and a new headquarters in West Valley City, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City. The company also committed to new technology early, becoming the 13th company in the world to install a complete GPS system in its fleet in 1992.

Issues arise

Success came at a price for Dick Simon Trucking, however. In 1998, though the company was experiencing great financial success, its stock suddenly plummeted. The company blamed the rapid decline on an unusually high number of accidents and a new terminal in Atlanta that cost more than expected. However, Dick Simon and two other executives were soon accused of insider trading because they had sold $3 million in stock prior to this rapid decline. The executives asserted those sales had been planned far in advance of the financial problems.

Problems continued for Dick Simon Trucking. In 2001, the company reported fourth quarter losses of $12.6 million, and a loss of over $44 million for the previous fiscal year. That year the company was also sued by the state of California after a driver deliberately drove his rig into the state Capitol building. In 2002, Dick Simon Trucking declared bankruptcy, citing the national economic slowdown as well as driver scarcity as the reasons for its financial woes. 

Central Refrigerated Lines purchased the ailing truck line later that year, allowing its 1,800 employees to keep their jobs. The Dick Simon Trucking name disappeared when the company was later absorbed into Central’s brand.

The story doesn’t end here

Leveraging decades of experience in the family business, Lyn Simon ventured out on his own and in 2004, together with his wife Helen, founded Simon Transport. They were set on creating a company that treated each and every driver as part of the family instead of just a truck number.

A Simon Trucking tractor-trailer. Lyn Simon uses a variation of the skunk logo from Dick Simon Trucking, Inc.
Photo: Simon Transport

Today, Simon Transport is 30+ trucks strong. The company continues to be dedicated to providing a great living for and relationship with its drivers. Simon Transport uses a variation of the “skunk” logo used by Dick Simon Trucking, and maintains its reputation as “So Stinkin’ Dependable” with its customers.

One Comment

  1. William Richard Windish

    I love working for Lynn and Helen, been with them a little over 2 year’s and say it every day “I should have come here sooner” . The office staff are all great people. I’ve been driving since 1989 and, Dick bought the Conley, Ga. yard from the company I use to work for. And a few years later I pulled into that yard while driving for another company and picked up an application but things changed and I never got to drive for the “Old Man”. Great family

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Scott Mall

Scott Mall serves as Managing Editor of FreightWaves Classics. He writes articles for the website, edits the SONAR Daily Watch series, marketing material for FreightWaves and a variety of FreightWaves special projects. Mall’s career spans 45 years in public relations, marketing and communications for Fortune 500 corporations, international non-profits, public relations agencies and government agencies.