Northwoods Nice

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“Up north” is a phrase used by many to describe the northern parts of states, including Wisconsin.  Growing up in Wisconsin, I knew that when you headed up north, you knew you’ve reached your destination by the scenery and the feeling you got.  My most recent trip was to visit Chad and Lisa Berry of Berry Trucking LLC in Medford, WI to photograph their Peterbilt 389.  Spending time in their area with them and taking pictures of their truck, along with all the amazing scenery, it was all Northwoods nice!

Chad and Lisa Berry are an inspiring couple, giving hope to those around them of what a solid couple is, built on love, respect, and teamwork.  Normally, articles are about the driver of a truck, but this couple together is a powerhouse of knowledge, with a love of trucks and a dynamic that cannot be overlooked.  These two individuals don’t have a trucking background but built what they have together, navigating their way through the ups and downs, to where they are today.

Even though they are several years apart, with Chad (42) being the elder of the two, they both grew up in Medford, WI.  At 15, in 1995, Chad started working for Bauer Trucking out of Medford in the wash bay.  He never had a thought of making a career in trucking, but as most might say, everything happens for a reason.  After some time, the wash bay became overstaffed, so the owner asked if Chad wanted to get into repairs, bodywork, and paint.  He took that opportunity and the first truck he painted was a Volvo.  He learned a lot at this company.  In 1997, he went to work for Prochnow Transport painting frames, changing tires, servicing trailers, and doing oil changes.  At 18, Chad felt the need to get his CDL and, unbeknownst to him, it would definitely come in handy.  This was the same year he attended his first truck show as a spectator at the Waupun Truck-N-Show.

Coincidentally, Lisa (39) grew up across the road from a logging company that also moved equipment.  The owners were, in essence, Lisa’s second set of parents, and they treated her like their daughter, considering they had three sons.  They also had a deer farm which she helped with starting in sixth grade, transitioning to helping them with paperwork for the logging company.  She obtained some great insight on the trucking industry from there and learned a lot.

Over the years, Chad was a little on the shy side, but there was one pretty young lady that caught his eye.  They had mutual friends plus relations by marriage, including their parents being friends, their dads playing softball together, and Lisa’s mom even making Chad’s baptism cake.  This young lady also worked at Hardee’s so, of course, Chad had to make it a point to go through the drive-thru to get the opportunity to see her.  Yes, that young lady was Lisa.  Being bolder than Chad, through that Hardee’s drive-thru window, Lisa asked Chad to come to her parent’s house.  That was in April 1999, and they have been together ever since.

Prochnow Transport was a job where Chad learned plenty of what he would later apply as he made his way into the trucking industry.  Prochnow rebuilt wrecked trucks, and this is where Chad’s education on rebuilds flourished.  This company prided themselves on doing things the right way with their company and their equipment.  Chad went on to work for this company until 2002.  This year saw more changes with Chad taking a local truck driving job and meeting Shawn Erickson.  Not only did Chad start driving truck full time, he and Lisa were married on August 31, 2002.

Shawn played a big part in the direction Chad would go, especially by telling Chad he didn’t know why he was working for someone else when he could own his own truck like he did.  He showed Chad the ropes, including not spending all his earnings, but to put it in the bank.  If it hadn’t been for Shawn talking him into trucking, Chad wouldn’t have turned down the county job he was offered.  By now, according to Chad, he knew enough about trucking to be dangerous.

In 1990, Lisa began working for a window company, and she stayed there for 13 years.  At the end of 2003, not long after she and Chad got married, they started Berry Trucking LLC with the purchase of a 1996 International 9200.  This was a trial truck – they wanted to see if they could make this all work.  That truck lasted for three months, then Chad found a 1996 Peterbilt 379 to replace it.  He converted this truck to a daycab and drove it until February of 2007.

Over the years, the Berrys have owned Peterbilts and Kenworths, but Chad and Lisa aren’t partial to one or the other, just the PACCAR brand.  Lisa’s time to shine within the industry started when she went to work for Krug’s Towing, where she was responsible for all the scheduling, assisting with overhauls, and ordering parts.  She also became a distributor for the Primrose Oil Company.  Lisa is proof you can accomplish anything if you apply yourself.

There was one truck in particular that really put Berry Trucking out there, as not only truck owners, but as truck builders.  This happened in 2016 when Chad and Lisa hit the road with their black 2012 Peterbilt 386.  Everyone laughed when they bought this truck in 2015, and Chad said, “Oh yeah?  Watch this!”  This aero truck was decked out with plenty of custom features with the acclaimed “Berry Touch” including their signature purple color incorporated on the truck.

Hitting 2016 head-on, Chad and Lisa started the year at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY and walked away with Best of Show Working Combo (it was the first aero truck to ever do this), and then they were invited to the prestigious invite-only show at the Peterbilt assembly plant in Denton, TX.  In June of 2016 they attended the SuperRigs show in Joplin, MO, winning some hardware and getting the sought-after opportunity to get a Rolling CB Interview from Big Rig Videos.  This particular truck was ingrained into plenty of people’s minds and memories, including Chad and Lisa’s.  This truck may not be owned by them these days, but it will always be known as “their truck” to everyone that comes into contact with it or brings up pictures of it.

For years, Chad has wanted Lisa to become a full-time partner in the company, and with the growth of Berry Trucking, that want became a reality in 2020.  Since day one, Lisa has always done the bookkeeping, and now she has added plenty more to her job title, including dispatch.  I previously mentioned Primrose Oil Company and Lisa continues to be a distributor to this day, including having a stock of inventory in their shop.  They not only sell the product but trust it and use it in all their trucks, too.

The Berrys most recent build is the pictured 2022 Peterbilt 389 with a matching 2022 Great Dane Everest Super Seal stainless steel spread axle refrigerated trailer.  At the 75 Chrome Shop Truck Show in 2021, Chad and Lisa spoke with Brian Bourke of Fitzgerald Peterbilt, who has been a friend of theirs since around 2016.  They toyed around with the idea of selling their gray Kenworth W900 and wanted to purchase a truck from Fitzgerald.  The purchase was set in motion about three weeks after the show, with the only requirements that it had to be a stand-up bunk (any size) and have a gray interior.

Brian eventually found a truck, but it was too far along in the build process to change anything except the exterior paint, which was delivered completely purple.  Even though the specs weren’t exactly what Chad and Lisa wanted, now that they have the truck, it is perfect.  There is meaning behind the build because of the losses the Berrys have endured, including the loss of his best friend and one of his uncles to cancer.  One of Chad’s sisters was diagnosed with Stage 2 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and Chad’s uncle Dean, who Chad looks up to, was diagnosed with multiple different cancers.  The purple and green signify the cancer ribbons in support of those who lost their battle, those fighting a battle, and those who beat it.

Equipped with a Cummins X15, the truck also has an 18-speed transmission, 3.36 gear ratio, and a 295” wheelbase.  After Fitzgerald put the initial touches to the truck, including painting and clear coating the stripe design Brian Bourke came up with, the truck was then brought back to Berry headquarters in January 2022 where they began to give it the “Berry Touch” by first tearing it apart.  This included repainting all of it, which was done by Chad himself.  If you know the Berrys, there is nothing untouched when it comes to their custom builds.

The truck sports Dynaflex AK Lite 8-inch exhaust, stainless Hogebuilt half fenders, an RLK visor, a PDI intake and tuner, shock box covers, and a rear taillight bar from Iowa Customs.  Chad took the slider off the 5th wheel, making it a fixed unit, installed Hovde Air Ride (out of Brainard, MN), and both Chad and Lisa made the custom deck plate.  Lisa took care of the install of the headliner and door pieces, 379 headlights, and custom Peterbilt color-matched logos from Roadsknz.  The chassis was repainted in-house, they shaved the frame to hide all the frame bolts, and the rear of the frame was frenched-in (all enclosed to look like one piece).  Rockwood switch covers and billet pieces were installed inside, along with a Forever Sharp custom steering wheel and Sears mid-back seats.

This truck sports plenty of 12 Ga. Customs accessories including the mirror brackets, a 20-inch bumper, cab and sleeper drop panels, 379 grill surround, strapless breather kit, and hidden hood latches.  The truck was completed a week prior to its unveiling at this year’s 24th Annual 75 Chrome Shop Truck Show in Wildwood, FL back in April.  The truck also ran its first load on the way to Wildwood and is continuing on as a work truck.  You can see the entire build process on their “Berry Trucking” YouTube channel.

Shoutouts go to Chad and Lisa’s dads, Rick and Bruce, as well as Kevin Metzger, for the extra sets of hands during the build process.  Also, to Brian Bourke and Tommy Fitzgerald, who are not only great people, but also folks who know what their customers want in a truck.  Thank you to Nick Kimball at AMCAN Truck Parts in Pewaukee, WI for all the help with parts and accessories and, of course, to their drivers, who kept the company rolling during the entire build process.

Chad has a slogan that people may or may not have seen before.  The saying is “Going Every Mile In Style” – something Chad and Lisa have lived by regarding the trucks they have owned and built.  Chad said, “You have to have nice equipment and look good going down the road.”  When I asked Chad what it meant to take pride in his truck, he simply said, “It means everything.”  Chad is very proud of the Berry name on the sides of his trucks, which represents what he and Lisa have built with hard work, the pride they take in everything they do, and the knowledge that their customers like to see great equipment loading and unloading at their facilities.

Today, Chad and Lisa are residing at their new property on a beautiful spread of land which provides plenty of room for their spacious shop and office, and their lovely home.  They currently own four trucks and dispatch five other owner operators that haul to the southwest, west, and northeast.  Having refrigerated trailers and being from Wisconsin, they haul a lot of cheese, but also frozen food and produce.  Currently, all the trucks have to be work trucks, and with newer trucks and equipment, it continues to keep the maintenance down.  Chad and Lisa never want to be a big company.  Their simple goal is to have a family-based operation that provides a comfortable life for them and their drivers.

Special thanks from Chad and Lisa to their parents, Rick and Debbie Berry and Bruce and Joyce Gebauer, for raising them right, as well as their love, guidance, and support.  To Evan Steger of Evan’s Detailing & Polishing for not only his polishing skills, but for teaching Chad how to polish, as well.  To their close circle of friends including Mike Grim, Kenny Kreier, Wayne Schmeiser, and Kevin Metzger.  These are great friends who are always there for them, and also give Chad the peace of mind when he is on the road that if Lisa needs help, they will be there.

I wanted to get a little more insight on Chad and Lisa from each other’s perspective.  Chad said Lisa was a very important part of this build and every build, including putting up with his BS.  Marrying Lisa came with the best in-laws a guy could ask for and caregivers to their fur babies (two dogs, Josie and Buster)  when they are out of town.  Lisa is the smart one with the money, and without her doing the bookkeeping, they wouldn’t have what they have.  Lisa is Chad’s everything, and he is not only very proud of her, but appreciates her, as well.  She is what he looks forward to coming home to, but every time he comes home, it becomes harder and harder to leave her and their home they built together.

When the company first started, paperwork was done every Sunday night, and that was back when they were only running 1-2 trucks, which wasn’t much of a life when there was no downtime.  Chad said Lisa was almost too smart for college because whatever she does, she not only learns fast, but she excels at it.  She is an ace with computers and knows motors in semis admittedly better than Chad does.  When he is out on the road, he doesn’t worry about repairs, because she can drive and fix things herself.

Laughing at Chad is one of Lisa’s favorite things, but he is also her favorite person.  Being a very grounded person and an extremely hard worker, Chad has always included Lisa in everything, and he always gives her the chance to dig in and learn.  With Chad, she is part of a team where they can figure things out, work on projects together, and laugh through it all.  He is her sounding board, always there to listen and understand.  She also said that Chad tends to put everyone else in front of him.

Lisa understands what it takes to not only make a business partnership work, but also a marriage.  I’ve heard her mention in the Rolling CB Interview that “if we want to have a good, strong relationship and this is what he enjoys the most, then I’m going to become a part of it.”  Lisa knew early on that she needed to know and learn about trucks and trucking to be able to spend time with Chad.  And their time working together continues to strengthen them as the team everyone has come to know.

Taking a little trip down memory lane, 2016 was a formidable year for me.  This was the first year I really ventured out to see other truck shows, considering MATS and the Waupun Truck-N-Show were the only ones I had been to.  June of 2016 was SuperRigs in Joplin, MO and my first time meeting Chad and Lisa.  They gave me a golf cart ride to a nice spot where I could get good photos of the trucks in the convoy.  We ended up forming enough of a friendship that I made my way up to Medford, WI in October of 2016 as they welcomed me with an opportunity to photograph their aforementioned 386 “Curb Sniffer” Peterbilt (pictured in the photo gallery).

This sharp aero truck, which was one the first ever built to be truly cool, is one of few that will always hold a special place in my heart because this was the first truck I ever did an actual photo shoot of… with my phone camera!  My life is richer with Chad and Lisa in it, and I’ll never forget the chance they gave me over six and a half years ago.  This piece of history in my life is the reason why I am so honored to have been able to photograph this 389 and have the opportunity to finally tell their story.

Thanks to Chad and Lisa for welcoming me into their home, for the continued friendship, and for being an amazing couple that everyone is happy to know.  It was a quick trip, but they have no idea how much I enjoyed being in their area of Northwoods nice!  As always, to all the drivers out there doing the deal, truck safe.

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