Written by The Business Journal Staff
John Lawson, Founder and President
Lawson Rock and Oil
I’m divorced with two sons who both work at the company as dispatchers. It’s nice to work with family. I also have two grandchildren.
How did you first get involved in the trucking industry, John?
I started hauling lumber in 1958 or 1959 and it grew from there. I also used to haul hogs from Iowa to California. I started in trucking, then joined the military, and got back into trucking when I got out.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry over the years?
Everything, including trucks and fuel, is far more expensive than it used to be. You used to be able to buy a truck for $11,000. Now, they’re hundreds of thousands of dollars.
What are the most important issues facing the industry today, John?
Overregulation and attracting and keeping drivers.
What’s your opinion of state regulations requiring trucking companies to use diesel particulate filters, John?
I am in favor of the diesel particulate filters.
How large is your operation and do you have plans to expand in the near future, John?
We deliver gravel and liquid asphalt throughout California, Nevada and Arizona. I have approximately 125 trucks and 130 employees. We are headquartered in Fresno, but also have operations in Bakersfield, Stockton, Gilroy, Sacramento and Reno. I have no plans to expand right now.
What advice would you give a young person today who is considering a career in the trucking industry, John?
Watch your bottom line. If you’re not careful, you can lose money in the trucking industry.
What was the best advice you ever received and who did it come from?
The best advice I ever received was from John Sheridan of American Paving Co., an early customer. He said, “Make a little money, leave a little money. Don’t try to make it all because you’ll choke to death on it.” He meant deal with people fairly and honestly and don’t try to make as much money as you can off them.
What are your roots in the Central Valley, John?
I was born in Fresno and have lived here my entire life.
What was your very first job and what did you learn from it?
My first job was mowing lawns. I didn’t like it, but it was renewable. Every 10 days, you had to mow the grass again. I also delivered newspapers.
What do you like to do in your spare time, John?
Running a company keeps you pretty busy. However, I do make time to rebuild 1932 Ford hot rods and exhibit them at car shows around the country. I was recently at shows in Idaho and Indianapolis.