ROARING SPRING - Barry F. Smith and trucks were made for each other.
At age 8, Smith began performing minor repairs on the family's fleet of five trucks, and by age 9, he had rebuilt his first flathead V-8 engine with the assistance of his father, Clair, and mother, Rose. At the same time, his father was teaching him to drive.
"I basically loved it. I couldn't get enough time to do things with trucks. I would tinker with them," Smith said. "At 10 years old, my dad would let me drive the truck on township roads."
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Barry F. Smith, founder and owner of Smith Transport Inc., will receive the Blair County’s Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Excellence on Tuesday.
Smith, the founder and owner of Smith Transport Inc., will receive the 10th annual Lifetime Achievement Award for Business Excellence Tuesday night from the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.
Smith said he is humbled by the award.
"There are a lot of other people out there who have done similar things. Fortunately, I was the one selected and chosen," Smith said. "We have come this far with a lot of good support. This award is not about myself; you can't do it alone."
As a youngster, Smith helped his parents, who started Clair Smith Trucking in 1947, haul milk and other products such as coal, sand, shale and concrete blocks.
"It was nothing to go to Indiana and dig the coal out of the mines, put it on donkey carts, haul it back and unload it to the houses," Smith said. "My hands have touched a little bit of everything."
At age 18, Smith began his long-haul career in trucking as an independent contractor by leasing a single truck to New Enterprise Stone & Lime Co. and then Elmer Smith Trucking. He also managed a fleet of five trucks for his father.
Smith operated Clair Smith Trucking with his parents until he founded Smith Transport on July 7, 1982, along Route 867 near the Albright Church of the Brethren.
"My story is I started with one truck and grew it to where it is today," said Smith, a 1965 graduate of Central High School.
Today, Smith Transport includes more than 900 trucks and about 3,300 trailers.
The Smith Transport Warehouse has more than 2 million square feet of warehousing along with other companies such as Interstate Emergency Services, I-65 Tractor and Chrome Sales and Legendary GT.
In 1984, Smith purchased land and in November 1986, moved the business to its present location at 153 Smith Transport Road.
The company's new headquarters building, which is shaped like a tractor-trailer, was opened in September 1997.
Smith Transport, which today employs 1,250 people in nine locations including its Roaring Spring headquarters, has grown into a company which provides a complete line of logistics services to businesses located throughout the United States and Canada.
Smith Transport hauls about 200,000 loads of products a year to about 30 different states.
Smith said he isn't sure he has a "claim to fame," but said he is proud of his relationship with his employees.
"I believe in good people and giving everyone the chance I've been given," Smith said. "I always have believed in treating people the way I wanted to be treated."
Smith, a deeply religious man and a born-again Christian, credits his employees for the company's success.
"The biggest key has been the great employees here that have believed in me as well as our customers and vendors," Smith said. "Good people gave me the opportunity and believed we could make it happen, and we got it to where it is today."
Smith said he enjoys watching people succeed.
"It does my heart good to see people start at the bottom and come up through the ranks and go on to a higher level of life," Smith said. "We have employees who have grown along with me. It is good to watch that and to see them grow."
Chamber president and CEO Joe Hurd said Smith is a worthy recipient of the award.
"Barry is a business leader and a person who has been at the forefront of growing one of the county's largest and most productive businesses. He has built the business from the ground up. When you start with one truck and now have over 900 trucks, that is a meteoric rise," Hurd said. "He has done amazing things in an industry that is difficult to be successful in over a long period of time."
Smith Transport also is getting into the Marcellus Shale business hauling water and doing logistics planning and management all across Pennsylvania.
Smith Transport is ready for the future with help from a minority partner, Chattanooga, Tenn.-based U.S. Express Enterprises, the No. 3 privately held trucking company in the U.S. which operates more than 8,000 trucks.
"They help us get our information sources and share thoughts and ideas with us," Smith said. "We believe that Smith Transport Inc. is being groomed to grow into an integral partner is this affiliated group of leading transportation providers into the future."
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.