The Self-Made Way

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Everyone is on a different path of life.  We make choices all the time which defines the next turn on our own path.  Some people can choose to work for someone, whether schooling led them to that opportunity, or an opportunity just presented itself, and then there are those who set out to build something from scratch – a business that they can be proud of and created the only way they know how – the self-made way.

Starting your own business is not all sunshine and roses, it takes grit, hard work, and determination.  It is definitely not for the faint of heart, nor is it for someone who can’t see the bigger picture and wants to give up.  Austin Jamvold-Banks set an initial goal, with research and determination, started his own company by himself, and has kept moving forward to where he is today.

Everyone has a defining moment in their life that sets a course of action towards what they want.  It started early on for Austin, as he spent his afternoons after school at his grandpa’s diesel mechanic shop.  His grandpa worked on big trucks, as well as farm equipment.  In the shop you would find tractor and agriculture magazines that his grandpa subscribed to and trucking magazines or chrome shop catalogs that his uncle Jeff subscribed to.

Not sure if it was the loud pipes or the shiny parts, but Austin was instantly drawn to the big trucks.  He would snag the truck magazines whenever he could and look at them over and over again.  He would make lists of parts that he would one day have on his truck.  He told his grandpa that one day he would have a truck and it would be in a magazine, but his grandpa said, “Keep dreaming!”  I guess some things are meant to be.

In 2000, Austin’s mother Kim Jamvold married Steve Banks.  He didn’t have any children of his own, so he wanted to adopt Austin and his sister Khrystyan, who both had their mom’s last name.  Two years later, in 2002, Steve adopted the two children, and they changed their name to the hyphenated Jamvold-Banks to honor both of them.

Knowing he would inevitably get into trucking he was diligent in his research by talking to friends in the industry and figuring out financially where he needed to be.  He knew he wasn’t going to drive someone else’s truck, so he set his sights on getting his own right from the get-go.  He credits his stepdad Steve for teaching him how to drive.  Steve does crop farming and has always had semi-trucks.  Up to that point, Austin hadn’t driven anything with more than a five-speed manual transmission.

Not purchasing a truck out of his means, Austin found something he could afford.  At the beginning, he was on a hunt for a grain trailer.  August of 2011 was somewhat a turn of events when he went to look at a trailer in Valley Falls, KS, and they also had a truck for sale that he hadn’t heard about.  It was a 1994 Peterbilt 379, a truck that was about 12 years older than what he anticipated buying.  He ended up buying both and, in September 2011, formed his company, Jamvold-Banks Trucking LLC.

Starting out hauling grain and anything else that could be hauled in the grain trailer, Austin had his sights set on earning more.  He tried doing step deck work but ended up back hauling with the grain trailer.  It was hard making a living with that trailer, so he ended up talking with a guy at the grain elevator who said he should get into hauling livestock.  This guy used to work for a livestock trucking company and said he should give the owner a call.  That owner made a few phone calls and Austin got into the livestock game, which he continued doing for the next seven and a half years.

Like some, Austin didn’t know about truck shows until he actually purchased a truck.  The first truck show he went to was at the Beattie Milo Festival in Beattie, MO in August of 2012, where they had a truck show at the same time.  Around the beginning of 2017, Austin had it in his mind to give his truck a makeover, so he began buying the parts he wanted and knew that he needed.  When Summer of 2018 rolled around, he shut the truck down to put his makeover vision in motion.  The finished truck was unveiled at the 2018 No Coast Large Cars Truck Show in Britt, IA.

As mentioned before, the truck you see today is a 1994 Peterbilt 379.  It has a 2WS CAT E model under the hood, 18-speed transmission, 3.08 gear ratio, and a 298” wheelbase.  The truck sports 8” Vendetta stacks, a visor built by Bub of the Weld Shop LLC in Leavenworth, KS, a 20” RoadWorks bumper, fenders by Bad Ass Customs, stainless steel step boxes, a custom shelf and RoadWorks custom floor, both installed by Tuffy Custom Woods out of Denton, NE, and a variety of custom parts from Lifetime Nut Covers.  The truck was repainted the same colors by Eagle Auto Blasting out of Kansas City, KS.  The colors of the truck are magenta with green stripes and a mocha frost outline.  The green has heavy metallic flake, so the color changes depending on the light, but it is more of a teal color than green.

In July of 2019, Austin purchased his own house in Muscotah, KS on a nice spread in the country.  He continued hauling livestock until he realized he really wanted to get out, stretch his legs, and see the country.  He was tired of running the same four-state radius and wanted to be over the road.

Talking to Lucas Ratcliffe (a truck owner that was featured in December 2017) who is an owner operator for Jaeschke Trucking LLC, he said to give the owner Cody Jaeschke a call.  Austin had met Cody previously and Lucas had said the company was looking to bring on more owner operators to haul their tank trailers.  Austin started pulling a 2021 Walker food grade tank trailer for Jaeschke at the beginning of 2021 and, as you can see, the trailer even matches his truck.  Austin enjoys what he is doing and definitely gets to see more of the country.  He will run anywhere, as long as it pays well.

I spoke to Austin’s mom to see what her thoughts were on her son being an owner operator.  She said that she was against it from the start.  Her son, the kid that liked running on the backroads to get somewhere, how was he going to operate a big truck on roads like that?  Austin went to school for welding and heavy equipment operation, so being a truck driver was not what she wanted him to do.  This is the same kid who would spend hours drawing semi-trucks down to the very last detail because he just loved them.  The thing was, in their small community there just wasn’t much for work – you either moved away to find a job or went to work for your family.

Right after high school, Austin ran a combine for Simpson Harvesting for four summers.  He was also allowed to relocate the semi-trucks when they moved locations.  Today, Kim and Steve are very proud of Austin and what he has accomplished on his own.  Austin will still ask for advice from Steve or his Grandpa LeRoy about issues he might be having with the truck.  Kim said for him to own his own truck, love what he does, pay his bills and see the country, is something many won’t ever be able to do.

I asked Austin what his favorite trucking memory was so far and without hesitation, he said it was at the first annual Show and Shine for a Special Kind Truck Show, held in Park Hills, MO in October 2021.  The event coordinator who made the show happen, Kasey Aslinger, had four trophies made for four special children including her daughter Jolie.  “Jolie’s Award” was presented to Jolie’s favorite truck, and she chose Austin’s Peterbilt out of all the beautiful trucks that were present.

Today, 34-year-old Austin does as much of his own mechanic work as he can.  Whenever he is home, he is always willing to help on his mom and Steve’s farm when it is needed.  To date, he has put about 1.4 million miles on the truck, and it currently has just shy of four million miles.  He has no regrets having an older truck, with the way the regulations have changed, plus he is a fan of his truck anyways.  Austin is the fifth owner of this truck, has always wanted a nice ride, and definitely has that!  Austin takes a lot of pride in the appearance of his truck because, as he said, “Looking cool ain’t cheap and looking cheap ain’t cool.”

I first saw Austin’s Peterbilt on Facebook and really liked the unique colors.  I’m a huge fan of cattle trucks so that in itself got my attention right away.  I was able to see the truck in person for the first time and meet Austin at the 2019 No Coast Large Cars Truck Show when he was pulling a livestock trailer.  We had the opportunity to talk so I could learn some of his story.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to photograph the truck then, but we planned on getting it done as soon as possible.  2019 didn’t work and then 2020 was light on travel for me, but in August 2021 I was finally able to shoot it on my way home from Utah.

Photography locations were very plentiful, and I enjoyed seeing another part of Kansas I hadn’t seen.  There was farmland as far as the eye could see!  We started at Austin’s house because he has a beautiful old barn in his backyard.  We then took the opportunity for some road shots on the country two-lane road that his parents live on, followed by photos in his parents’ backyard, which proved to be a beautiful spot.  This combo is truly beautiful, so I wanted to get some rolling shots, as well.  We traveled to Holton, KS, where there is a four-lane highway heading out of town to get rolling shots, as well as stopping so I could take photos as he passed by.  With blue skies and a few puffy white clouds in the afternoon, the weather was perfect.

Special thanks from Austin goes to Harli Melton (aka Gremlin) for all of the help working on the truck, including looking up parts and bringing parts when she was working at Kansas City Peterbilt.  His friend Dusty for coming out to help on the weekends, all of his friends who’ve helped him along the way, his twelve-year-old nephew Drayden who loves to grease the truck and ride along with his uncle, and Ilea Windhorst of Midwest Polishing out of Salina, KS for the great polishing job for the photo shoot.  Thanks to Graybill Chrome out of Rock Port, MO, 4 State Trucks out of Joplin, MO for constantly helping him with the parts during the build process, and Eagle Auto Blasting.  Also, a big thank you to his mom and stepdad, Kim, and Steve, for all their continued love, guidance, and support.

Austin continues to look up to the guys he runs with because they all inspire him to do the best he can every day.  Thank you to Austin for not only the continued friendship but also the willingness to make the time for the photo shoot, and to him and his mom for their time over the phone.  Many start out with a dream of starting their own business and, when that is accomplished, there is a sense of pride that it was done the self-made way.  As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.

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