Established in 1990, Downey Trucking, Inc is a family-focused carrier. Our founder, Leland Downey, believed in hard work, dedication, and honesty. His 33 years of over-the-road experience taught us how to do the job right. Read our story below.
On June 27, 1990, Leland Lewis Downey signed papers to become an owner-operator.
His actions that day set into motion what would one day become Downey Trucking, Inc. This is our story.
His Journey from Army to Farming
Downey was born in Woodburn, Kentucky, on November 5, 1929. The son of a farmer, he enlisted in the United States Army in 1950, during the Korean War era. He served in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment in Washington D.C. until 1953, when he marched in the Presidential Inauguration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Upon his return from the army, he returned to work on his father's farm, Nathaniel Downey. After years of crop farming, his father decided to go the route of dairy farming. Leland did not want to be a part of it and instead moved his family to Winter Garden, Florida. It is there where he leased his first truck to Alterman Transport Lines in Opa-locka.
His Beliefs of Hard Work
In 1971, Downey returned to Kentucky with his family and worked at E.R. Carpenter Company in Russellville, Kentucky. He was well known for his sense of humor and knack for storytelling.
Well-educated through his pursuits, Downey held strong beliefs in honesty and good work ethic. He was known for saying things like, ‘One hundred percent of nothing is nothing. Do the math,’ and, ‘Those that do the least, scream the loudest.’
Jim Downey Joined His Father
His youngest son, Jim Downey, always looked up to his father and admired his profession. Jim decided at a young age that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps.
At 14-years-old he wrote an essay entitled, ‘Hope for the Future’.
“My hope for the future stems mainly from my father’s occupation. Since I was a little boy, I’ve always wanted to do what he does. I’ve always wanted to drive a truck.
I plan to receive my training from a trucking outfit named North American Van Lines. They train drivers for a small sum and supply them with loads and a trailer. I’ll have to buy my truck and pay all expenses.
My main hobby, as you may guess, is building model tractor-trailer rigs. Right now, I have an almost exact duplicate of my father’s truck. He drives for E.R. Carpenter in Russellville, Kentucky.
All this makes up my dream to become a truck driver. I just hope I can live up to his standard and make a satisfying career out of it. All I have to do now is wait until I’m twenty-one years old. I also need to save my money so I’ll be prepared to spend around forty thousand dollars on a new truck.
This is what the future holds for me, so look out highways.”
Our Tough Time
When Jim Downey turned 18-years-old, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he served four years as a Reconnaissance Scout, patrolling the Soviet Iron Curtain in Europe. Upon returning home in 1984, Downey found himself working odd jobs just to get by.
“I took whatever job I could find after leaving the army,” he said. “Work was hard to come by. I washed trucks for Carpenter, where Dad drove. They paid me $5 a truck and $7 a trailer.”
Downey was so desperate to work as a trucker, he drove to Fort Scott, Kansas, to try and get a job with Midwestern Distribution. He didn’t get hired because there were hundreds of applicants for forty jobs.
“Times were tough,” said Downey. “I finally got a break with a road test for Dollar General and was hired.”
After his stint with DG, Downey started driving with his father at Carpenter. They drove the team from 1984-1986, until Jim bought his first truck for $5000.
“It was junk, but it got me started,” said Downey.
From Registration to Anniversaries
On July 27, 1990, Leland Downey registered his authority under the name Downey Trucking, motor carrier number 277632. Less than two years later, on July 5, 1992, Downey was diagnosed with brain cancer.
On September 24, 1992, Leland Downey passed away. Upon his father’s passing, Jim Downey was bestowed rights to MC number 277632. In 1994, he bought his first Kenworth as an owner-operator. Three years later, he bought three more trucks and hired his first drivers. By 2000, the company expanded to 21 trucks.
“I had a wonderful father, and his dream has provided me with a purpose-driven life,” said Downey. “I am happy to be part of its success.”
Many things have changed since 1990, but the founding spirit of this company will always be Leland Downey. Here's to his everlasting legacy, and to the many other fallen veterans and drivers. May there be many more years, and miles, ahead.