Family-oriented Dubuque firm quickly expanding
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — In the Tucker family, the trucking tradition runs deep.
So when A.J. Tucker and his wife, Sauny, acquired a well-known Dubuque trucking firm in 2018, it only made sense to incorporate the surname into the company’s moniker.
“We went back and forth on the name, but it really came back to Tucker,” Sauny recalled to the Telegraph Herald. “We want it to be a family business. That is the reason we are doing this. It is for family.”
The Tuckers, who reside in East Dubuque, Ill., purchased Art Pape Transfer last summer and switched the name to Tucker Freight Lines. The business is headquartered in Dubuque.
In the months since, the business name is far from the only thing that has changed.
Tucker Freight Lines has expanded its fleet from 27 trucks to 70 and its workforce from 33 to 80.
A.J. Tucker, a veteran of the industry, said there were multiple factors that convinced him that buying the Dubuque business was the right move — ranging from the company’s proven track record to its close proximity to the highway.
“It was a good, local, established business, and we saw an opportunity to fine-tune some things,” he said. “We brought in some new views and ideas and provided some different direction.”
Prior to last year’s acquisition, Art Pape Transfer had operated in the area for more than six decades. Some vestiges of that enterprise still remain.
Jordan Pape, a previous owner, now serves as director of fleet maintenance and purchasing.
The Tucker family has an extensive trucking history of its own.
Sauny’s father and grandfather both were truckers. Her father and brother now are employed by Tucker Freight Lines.
A.J.’s father, who also has extensive experience in trucking, continues to serve as an important sounding board for all things related to the business.
The couple’s oldest son, Charlie, also has expressed an interest in the industry and will work at Tucker Freight Lines this summer.
A.J. Tucker ran Dubuque-based business Tucker Transport before selling it to Hirschbach Motor Lines in 2007. He began working with Hirschbach at that time and continued with that company until 2016.
After leaving Hirschbach, A.J. took a brief hiatus before determining that he didn’t want Tucker Transport and Hirschbach to be the only chapters in his career.
“We needed to do a round three,” he said.
The fleet of vehicles at Tucker Freight Lines transports a variety of items, including food, machinery and machine parts.
Since acquiring Art Pape Transfer, the company has added heavy-haul and dedicated trucking to its list of services.
“We do a little bit in the east and the southeast,” said A.J. “But the bulk of what we do is in the Midwest.”
The regional focus has been an important part of attracting and retaining workers, Sauny noted.
Because drivers aren’t making cross-country trips, Tucker Freight Lines can ensure that they will be home for the weekends. Some workers are even guaranteed to return home each night.
In an industry notorious for worker shortages, the Tuckers believe this is a key.
“What we’ve found is that (truck drivers) are out there, but they are always looking at other jobs,” Sauny said. “We don’t want our employees to keep looking. We want them to feel that this is home.”
In addition to truck drivers, the staff at Tucker Freight Lines also includes mechanics and office workers.
Sauny Tucker’s rise to the top of Tucker Freight Lines is filled with twists and turns.
A former employee at Cottingham & Butler, Tucker also spent 11 years as a stay-at-home mother. During that time, she often worked closely with A.J. to learn the ins and outs of the trucking business.
The Tuckers now sit side by side at the helm of the company. A.J. serves as president, while Sauny is vice president and CEO.
Sauny already is making a name for herself in the industry. In March, the Women in Trucking Association named Tucker one of the industry’s “Top Women to Watch.”
The husband-and-wife duo believes their relationship is a key to their entrepreneurial success.
“We complement each other well,” A.J. said.
While A.J. brings the bulk of industry expertise to the table, Sauny offers the ability to communicate and connect.
“I am more of a people person,” Sauny said. “I can talk to anyone anywhere, and I can sometimes bring A.J. out of his shell. He does a good job of keeping me focused.”
Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com