For His Only Hero

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We all have heroes throughout our lives.  Some of these heroes are with us for a certain purpose, over a period of time, while some are there for our entire lifetime.  For Scott Gibbons (54) of Lefty’s Logistics LLC, the dedication of his trucking company name, which is proudly displayed on the steps of his uniquely cool Peterbilt seen here, is in honor of the only hero he ever had.

Scott grew up in Antigo, WI as the youngest of five children and came along late in his parent’s life.  Although Scott would be considered the first generation of trucking in the Gibbons family, his grandfather was also involved with trucking, but he passed away before Scott was even born.  Scott’s uncle Bill (his mother’s brother) was one of Scott’s biggest influences in trucking, as he had driven for many years.

Never was there a time that Scott didn’t know he was going to get into trucking.  He was fortunate that friends of his parents owned a construction company with over-the-road trucks.  Monte Krueger was the owner’s name and, all along, he kind of took Scott under his wing.  Monte gave Scott his first job at age 14 washing and greasing trucks, and he learned to drive simply by getting the opportunity.  The drivers would bring their trucks in to get washed and would tell Scott to drive the trucks in, adding, “But don’t wreck anything!”  At 18 years of age, Scott obtained his Chauffeur’s license which he later was grandfathered in with a CDL.

In October of 1988, when Scott turned 21, he purchased his first truck.  Even though his dad didn’t necessarily support the idea of Scott purchasing the truck, he stood behind his son and even cosigned on a $10,000 note for startup capital.  Scott’s dad, having been self-employed all his life, understood his son’s desire to go out on his own.  Over the years, Scott has pulled just about every kind of trailer, including refrigerated for approximately 15 years, chemical/hazmat, oversize, and even a livestock trailer for a short time.

Everyone has a favorite truck, whether for just a short time or for their whole life.  Potatoes were a big thing in Antigo back in the day, and a man by the name of Ken Fender had a 1985 Peterbilt with a Doonan roof cap which was a truck Scott admired.  Ken was also someone who Scott holds in high regard because he realized Scott’s love for his truck, so he was willing to teach him different things about the truck itself and about trucking in general, which was very helpful.

In April of 2017, Scott started his company, Lefty’s Logistics LLC, which is based out of Racine, WI.  I asked him how he came up with the name and he said it was named after his father, the only hero he ever had.  His father was part of the 82nd Airborne Division and was dropped in on D-Day during WWII.  He was also a Golden Gloves boxer and, due to this involvement in boxing, he was nicknamed “Lefty” which is where Scott’s company name came from.

Scott purchased the pictured truck in the spring of 2017 which was, at that time, all white.  He purchased it because it had an older Caterpillar engine that was exempt from the new e-log rules.  This was a project far greater than he anticipated.  The guy he bought the truck from was a little on the shady side which was proven as Scott started tearing the truck down.  The previous owner used aluminum sheets, that were affixed with silicone and then painted, to hide some rust holes.  Scott decided it needed a complete ground-up restoration.

The truck originally had an Ultra cab and a high roof standup sleeper.  Scott converted the roof of the cab to a flat roof, and then rebuilt the sleeper using parts and pieces from four different sleepers.  Although he had lost track of Ken Fender’s truck over the years, during the tear-down of his truck, Scott started a serious search for the Doonan roof cap for the sleeper from Ken’s truck.

The search indeed took some time, but Scott had been in Upper Michigan at a shop with one of his friends and, of course, was talking trucks.  Ken Fender’s truck came up in the conversation and how Scott was looking for the roof cap.  Low and behold, one of the mechanics there said, “Hey I know where that is!” and his friend nodded his head like he knew the current owner.  Come to find out, the sleeper was being used as an ice shanty for ice fishing.  Scott told his friend to take him there right away without the owner expecting their visit.  After talking to the owner, it took Scott a month to convince him to sell his ice shanty/sleeper.

The truck you see today is a 2000 Peterbilt 379 with a 2WS CAT, 18-speed transmission, 3.55 gear ratio, and a 285” wheelbase.  All said and done, the hood and cab shell are the only original parts on the truck.  Going for a classic look, there are a variety of custom parts and unique attributes to this truck that some may not even notice.  The noticeable are the big parts like the Valley Chrome bumper, Midwest visor, and Hogebuilt half fenders.  The truck also sports 5” factory exhaust, the Doonan roof cap on the sleeper, Betts tanker lights, aluminum bases made by a family friend for the tanker lights, and axle caps from a Harley Davidson over the bolts for the Unibilt cab/sleeper conversion.

Raul from RMJR is always game to either go along with Scott’s crazy ideas or come up with his own.  Like Scott, Raul believes pinstripes and metal flake make the world go around.  Raul worked in the Los Angeles lowrider scene and on high-end cars in Chicago, so when Scott got the idea for an electric antenna from the classic car and lowrider scene, Raul said, “Yeah, we can do it.”  With that, Ron Miles, owner of RMJR, came in shaking his head and said to Scott, “You have too much time on your hands.”  Scott also wanted air-powered windows and managed to find a set from a 1996 Peterbilt 379.  When he bought the pair of doors, the windows were down, but when he rolled up the windows for the first time, unknown to him, he saw the beautiful and classic etchings on the glass.

As previously mentioned, the truck was originally white.  When the restore started, Scott was undecided of what color he wanted to paint it.  Finally, when it came down to the wire, Scott was on the road and Ron called him and asked what color it was going to be.  Still undecided, Ron more or less made the decision and said the day was a white day in the paint booth, so white it was.  The decision to add the secondary color on the truck, including the stripes, was decided shortly thereafter.  Well placed pinstriping was added not only on the exterior of the truck, but on the interior, too, by the steady hands of Mike Huff.

The inside of Scott’s Peterbilt holds plenty of sentimental, old school, and never-seen-before extras in a semi-truck.  The truck has Sears lowrider seats, an Iowa Customs refrigerator, a 359 dash from 4 State Trucks, and extra aluminum work (like the pedals and door seals), done by one of his friends.  Jim’s Upholstery in Madison, WI did most of the upholstery work.  He is a hot rod guy who does upholstery the way it is supposed to be done.  The light lenses on the overhead lights are from a Cessna 185 airplane, and various items are from hot rod swap meets, as Scott isn’t much into buying accessories off the shelves at chrome shops.

A memorial and constant reminder can be found on the keychain with a class ring on it, which belonged to Scott’s 22-year-old daughter Jordan, who passed away suddenly from an aneurysm.  She was everything to Scott and was his only child.  Before she was born, he never worried about anyone, but when she came along, he grew up really quick.  Jordan was always Scott’s biggest cheerleader, and he misses her dearly.

Some of you may be wondering why Scott has an Aerodyne sleeper on his Peterbilt.  The rest of you know it is not an Aerodyne sleeper (as I previously touched upon earlier in this article).  Peterbilt did not build a standup sleeper back in the day.  A company called Coachman manufactured taller roof caps until Doonan, a huge Peterbilt dealership in Kansas, purchased the molds from Coachman.  These taller roof caps were a dealer installed option.  Soon, Doonan had other Peterbilt dealerships on board offering this option, as well.  Ken Fender, the original owner of the truck which had the Doonan roof cap Scott now has on his truck, was installed by Peterbilt of Waukesha in 1985.  By comparison, there is nothing Aerodyne about this sleeper, even though it looks similar.  The windows and body lines are different, plus Kenworth sleepers are 60 inches whereas Peterbilt sleepers (like Scott’s) are 63 inches.

I asked Scott what kind of advice he would give someone looking to buy their own truck.  He said to make a plan, execute it, and do not start out on a wing and a prayer.  Starting a company has to come with preparedness.  Be thankful for the good times, but be ready for the hard times, because they are going to come.  Regarding leasing on with a company, Scott told me that a person should be mindful of the upstart costs.  Lease on with an established company that has a good reputation.  One needs to know exactly what they are looking for regarding which company to lease on to, and make sure to have that conversation with the company so you know, right from the start, if it is a good fit or not.

Some may wonder and many already know what it means to present a good truck image.  As Scott said, your truck is the first thing a customer sees when you pull into the shipping or delivery location.  Scott said the purpose of customizing his truck was not done to impress anyone but himself, plus he has trouble leaving anything as is – he always has to make it his own.  Living in Wisconsin and having to deal with not only winter but other weather, as well, Scott washes his truck often.  His bookkeeper said he could finance a small third world country with all the truck washes he buys!  Scott does all his own maintenance, except for the heavy-duty repairs, which are left in the capable hands of Ron at RMJR.

Today, Scott runs over-the-road pulling a 2013 East flatbed with a Fastrak tarp system.  The majority of the lanes he travels are the Midwest and east, hauling a lot of new construction materials and specialty electronics.  When not trucking, although he hasn’t had as much time as he would like, he can be found tinkering with and building motorcycles.  To this day, his favorite part of trucking is when he gets to roll down the road with the people he calls friends, whether they are heading in the same direction or heading to the same destination.

Special thanks from Scott to Ron Miles at RMJR because without him, this truck would not have happened.  Also, thanks to Raul Delgado of RMJR (their paint and body man), Eric Dias of Last Dollar Trucking, Inc. (one of our July 2019 features) who helped with reassembling, Foxfire Cummins AKA Bryan Levernier (our July 2018 cover feature) for his assistance, and special thanks to Jake Bast (our July 2019 cover feature) for many of the dash items you see inside Scott’s truck today.

A shout-out also goes to Henry Valasquez of Hanks 61 Kenworth for helping to find Scott’s 359 headlights, A/C condenser, brake valve for the train horns from a Peterbilt 362 cabover (noted with the “woot woot” floor plate), and A/C cover.  Thanks also go to Doug Thoman and Gabe Helman for being Scott’s personal “FedEx” delivery men when he ordered parts out of Pennsylvania.  Not to be forgotten are those individuals behind the scenes that help Scott with the day-to-day operations.  According to Scott, some people think he only drives the truck, but others know that is all he does (that is a statement only those close to him will know and laugh about).

Like many of the trucks I photograph for articles, I had seen Scott’s truck on social media.  I had been following it for a while and it finally worked out to shoot the truck while on a trip up to Wisconsin to visit my folks.  We photographed the truck near where he parks it in Union Grove, WI.  My close friend Denise Steffen (I stayed with her and her husband during this trip to Wisconsin) accompanied me during this shoot.  This was the first time I met Scott after several phone calls to coordinate the time, and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for pictures.

Thank you to Scott for your time not only the day of, but also for the communication and having your truck dialed in when I came to town.  Thank you also to Denise for not only coming with me, but for your unwavering support in what I do.  Dedications for loved ones who left us happens a lot with trucks and trucking companies, and Scott’s is no different.  Every time Scott Gibbons climbs up into the cab of his truck, memories swirl as he sees his company name on the step.  For the love and the reminder for the only hero he ever had – his late father, Lefty.  As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.

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