Brown Transport Inc. Positioned to Grow and Participate

Date: June 20, 2014

Brown Transport is a three-generation family business that began in 1929 and is located in Gratis, Ohio.  Russell Brown converted his first truck, a Model-T, into a flatbed and hauled tobacco trash away for area farmers.  Three years later in 1932 he traded four cows and a little cash for a used Model A 1 ½ ton truck and so he could expand the business and start hauling grain and livestock to Cincinnati.  The PUCO authority he was granted in 1935 is believed to be one of the oldest in Preble County.

By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, Russell’s attention turned to hauling aggregate using dump trailers. With the help of his son Jack, and later on his two grandsons, Mickey and Terry, he continued to grow his business.  By 1997 Terry sold his portion of the business and today Russell’s grandson Mickey runs Brown Transport.  Russell retired in 1973 but stayed actively involved with the company until his death in 2000 at 99 years old.

In 1981 the company joined NFIB and has been a member ever since. Like most members, the company became active when one of the NFIB field sales team came to the door and explained what NFIB does to support small-business owners.  Mickey says they remain active because, “NFIB stays pro-business and it shares my opinions in D.C. and in Columbus. I also enjoy attending the Area Action Council meetings in both Greenville and Dayton, as well as the informational resources on the NFIB website.”

In June 2000, Brown Transport expanded again through the purchase of the Overpeck Trucking Company.  Overpeck originated in Butler County in the 1950’s and provided bulk dump truck service to Southwest Ohio. Throughout all the growth and expansion, the main office for the company remains in Mickey’s childhood home.

Currently Brown Transport operates 21 company tractors and over 40 dump trailers.  In addition, they also have tank trailers for hauling liquid fertilizer and utilize more than 30 owner-operators.   Their service area is primarily the Great Lakes region of the United States (Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, West Virginia and Pennsylvania), but they have 48-state operating authority.

In addition to the trucking business, Mickey owns a 90 acre crop farm.

There are plenty of challenges in their business. Growing fuel costs, new truck purchase prices, and the continuous maintenance based on new environmental regulations on his current trucks are all constant concerns.  New truck prices currently average about $130,000 compared to the 1970’s when it was only between $30,000 to $50,000.

Additional costs are then lumped on through the Department of Transportation, EPA regulations and healthcare mandates to the cost of doing business. Mickey’s healthcare story was even featured on US Speaker of the House John Boehner’s internet blog as an example of how the new healthcare law is impacting small-business owners and their ability to provide coverage to employees

When it comes to offering advice for potential new small-business owners, Mickey says, “It helps to find a niche business idea, finding a small niche market cuts down on marketing because there less competition in the beginning. Once started, be willing to adjust your product or services to the times and with the market place.” 

Mickey Brown, owner of Brown Transport, Inc.

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