The History of the Crouse Cartage Company
“Service is Our Salesman”
In 1941, Paul Crouse began the Crouse Cartage Company in Denison, Iowa. He had been in the trucking industry for the past 12 years as a driver and as a manager for such trucking companies as ET Reed, Union Freightway, Wilson Forwarding, and eventually Brady Motor Freight.
Originally Paul started with a rented warehouse, 4 trucks and 5 employees. The operation was between Des Moines, Iowa, Omaha, Nebraska, Sioux City, Iowa, and about 60 small towns in between. The service was daily and overnight which was one of the bigger reasons for it’s success. Times were tough and drivers were hard to find due to World War II, but 18 hour days by Paul made it go.
In this trucking company 4 sons of Paul’s began their trucking careers. They all took their turn going to the school of “Hard Knocks” as drivers, dockmen, clerks and supervisors. One thing they all learned was good work habits as they were told by Paul “hard work never killed anyone it just makes you tired”. As such the company grew from 6 employees in 1941 to 1100 people in 1998. The territory expanded from 60 towns to all towns in 15 states in the Midwest. The company’s success was the business strategy of overnight service between any 2 points in the company’s territory, safety at all times, and taking care of the customer’s needs. The biggest success factor was the people. Their dedication to get the job done right and fast was far beyond any competitors Crouse Cartage Company had. Their “turn over” rate with employees was nothing with some 3rd generation people working for the company.
In 1987, Paul Crouse passed away in a car accident and George Crouse became President. After a couple of years of some hard times and all the Crouse boys in the business, the company continued to grow and expand.
In 1988 the company grew faster than any other year. “Our largest competitor American Freight Systems locked their door on Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m. and we took off. We hired their best people, bought or rented their terminals and became Iowa’s largest LTL Motor Carrier, thanks to the hard work of everyone”, says George.
In 1998 the Crouse family sold a very healthy, financially stable truck line and George retired.
“I retired with no hobbies and way too much time on my hands. After 30 days I went to work for my son, who owns TCT Trucking in Lake View, IA driving a truck. Driving a truck gives you way too much time to think and after several months I started Crouse Transportation in Denison, IA with 6 reefer trailers and 4 leased operators hauling for Farmland Foods,” George recalls. The 2 employees were George’s oldest daughter Renee and an old time employee John Rossiter, who had done most of the jobs at Crouse Cartage.
This business would change over the next 10 years and they now have 16 company trucks and 22 leased operators. Crouse Transportation still hauls lots of perishables in all 48 states but mostly short hauls that allows the drivers to be home every weekend and several times a week. The management crew has now grown to all three of George’s daughters, Renee, Jodi, and Julie. Operations are run by George’s son-in-law and an old Crouse employee, Jeff. Maintenance is run by Jerry Wilson a 30+ year veteran at Crouse and 3 mechanics who’s time at Crouse total in excess of 40 years. Who said old timers can’t work? Crouse Transportation also has 12 tank trailers and haul for the Bio Diesel industry. Something new for an old freight hauler. “I have always enjoyed watching things grow and become something. In this business you can’t get complacent with your business. You have to always be looking for something new to haul as it is a very competitive business,” say George. “You have to know your cost and not just bid a little cheaper than your competitor, because he might be in bad shape himself. You also need to know all your employee needs to keep the company running. My father told me a long time ago never ask an employee to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. That has worked very well for over 50 years.”
George’s three daughters still think he’s smarter at trucking than they are and he’s not going to tell them any different. George still enjoys driving 2 or 3 times a week and the Lord willing he’ll continue. Maybe retirement will come in the next 15 years or so.
“Thanks to all my friends in the trucking industry for their advice and help through the years. There are truly no better friends than truckers. We fight each other for freight but when one of us needs help we’re all there. Thanks to the IMTA, what an organization to help us with the legal, political, and financial things of trucking. Especially thanks to my wife Dixie for 51 years of marriage. A special trooper who was always there and as with most truckers, raised our family,” George said.