For the Gouge family, trucking isn’t just an occupation. For four generations, dating back to the 1940s when Merle Gouge started his career in trucking, it’s been a way of life.
In 1972 Merle’s son, Pete, founded IMT Transport, a Garner, Iowa-based transportation company that specializes in flatbed hauling services, with a single truck – a 1969 Kenworth Model A. It’s a truck that still operates today – with several rebuilt engines and transmissions and an odometer that has nearly five million miles on it. Today, IMT Transport operates more than 240 trucks, most of which are Kenworth long hoods – ranging from Kenworth W900A’s to Kenworth’s 100th Anniversary Limited Edition W900L.
“We’re a family of truckers and mechanics,” said Jeremy Gouge, Pete’s son and current IMT Transport president. “Being from a small town, we’re used to fixing and restoring equipment ourselves. It’s not often we’ll retire a truck from service – we still have more than a dozen W900A and B models that we purchased in the ‘70s and ‘80s still running today. We value tradition, and for us, the classic look of W900 models and the quality truck that they are aligns perfectly with the image and reputation of our company.”
Earlier this year, IMT Transport purchased 11 Kenworth 100th Anniversary Limited Edition W900Ls to celebrate Kenworth’s centennial milestone. In fact, one of those trucks was featured in Kenworth’s 100th anniversary truck parade in Chillicothe, Ohio, to represent the limited-edition model this past summer. For Jeremy Gouge, the opportunity to take home a piece of Kenworth’s history was something he couldn’t pass up.
“When James [Gjerde, MHC Kenworth – Des Moines new trucks representative] informed us that Kenworth was coming out with a centennial anniversary-themed W900, we thought it had a sharp-looking design and was a great opportunity to add a special piece of equipment to the fleet,” said Gouge. “We happened to be one of the first – our truck is serialized with #003, marking just the third truck to be produced, which was humbling for us.”
When IMT Transport’s limited-edition truck was nearing its build slot, Gouge sent his dad and his son Brockway to Renton, Washington, to watch the truck come off the line at Kenworth’s plant and take a tour before transporting it home to Iowa. Pete and Brockway hauled the special truck with a 1976 Kenworth W900A, which Pete drives full-time for the company.
“Kenworth is a generational company, and so are we,” said Gouge. “You can tell the employees take great pride in the trucks they build. We take a lot of pride in our work and the trucks we operate, so from that perspective, we’re very similar. Pete and Brockway had a great time visiting Kenworth in Washington. In fact, after seeing our truck in person, we thought it looked even better than the photos and decided to order 10 more.”
According to Gouge, operating trucks as iconic to the trucking industry as the W900 model series helps the company with driver retention and recruiting. In the flatbed hauling business, employing safe and experienced drivers is a must.
“Several companies we began working with in the ‘70s are still customers today because they trust us to transport their freight safely and on time. Our drivers are top-notch, and they have a lot of pride in their job and the equipment they drive,” said Gouge. “We believe the W9L is the trucking industry’s equivalent of a ’68 Camaro. It’s timeless and a truck that encouraged many to become truckers. We believe strongly in the Kenworth brand, the quality of trucks they produce, and the people that make it all happen.”