John Cox, Founder
I have always been blessed with so many smart mentors around me who influenced and guided my life; first my dad, a lifelong trucker himself, and also the founder of Overnite Transportation Company, J. Harwood Cochrane, became a major influence as well. The year was 1980, and I was the Sales Manager for Great Coastal Express, a truckload carrier predominately serving the East Coast. It was that year that U S Congress deregulated America’s trucking industry by passage of the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 that eliminated most of the rules and barriers preventing new carriers from being able to obtain operating authority from the old Interstate Commerce Commission.
It was a ‘new day’ for the trucking industry and uncertainty loomed in a newly deregulated environment. I watched closely, talking with my customers about what they desired from any new carriers that may take advantage of deregulation, and it became clear to me that if I wanted to step out on my own to start my own transportation business the time was now. I recall I enthusiastically did so, but with much trepidation because of so much uncertainty about what lay ahead in the industry. Most all of the larger established carriers fought hard against deregulation and the naysayers spoke loudly about the perils of a deregulated environment. Regardless, I moved ahead with my plans to start my own business.
On May 3, 1982, the doors of COX Truck Brokerage were opened as a licensed contract carrier and property broker without any equipment of my own. Our first week, I visited all of my customers who had relied on me throughout the years to assist them in moving their goods to the market place with my previous employers. I had established long-term great relationships with people who believed in me and who would become very meaningful to my new startup company and me. In the early days, I hired safe and dependable contract carriers to haul my customers’ goods with reliable service and at affordable prices without sacrificing service.
About two years later one of my larger customers insisted I buy my own equipment to haul their very sensitive freight movements, which reluctantly I did in order to keep the account. It was a great move and I never looked back. Even today we still rely on many contract carrier partners through COX Truck Brokerage to efficiently handle thousands of loads annually for our customers. However, the fleet of COX Transportation Services has enjoyed much success throughout the years and is certainly the chief component of the combined COX Companies.
There is no doubt that my greatest asset throughout the years is the wonderful associates that make up the staff of our fine companies. Cox associates and our professional driving staff are second to none in America’s trucking industry. I am so proud of each and everyone that helped to build our company, and I will be forever grateful to each one for their individual contributions. With so many talented employees on staff, it gave me the opportunity to serve my industry in other ways, such as by being an active member of the VA Trucking Association, and later serving as its President. The VTA was the most important voice for our industry in Virginia’s General Assembly, where legislators would make decisions and or laws that would affect our industry, and as VTA President I would help to be the voice of Virginia’s trucking industry politically.
That experience became important a few years later when an opportunity presented itself to run for political office myself to represent the 55th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. I was honored to win that seat for two separate terms to serve my friends and neighbors in such a high capacity. That wonderful experience, however, would not have been possible without the staff and leadership that I had in place with the COX Companies, ensuring the continued growth and service to our valued customers/clients.
After having made the decision not to run for a 3rd term, my focus shifted to the future of COX Transportation Services and its employees. After 5 decades of trucking and my advancing age, I felt it was important, not only for my family, but also for all of the dedicated people who made up the combined Cox Companies, to set a solid plan for the future. Jay Smith, serving as our current President, and who guided our company while I was serving in the legislature, was certainly the natural heir. It was vitally important for me to keep the company intact without anyone losing their job, and creating a path for Jay to assume the ownership was the right course to do just that. After all, Jay Smith had earned the opportunity by his dedication to our company throughout the years and learning the ‘ins as outs’ of the trucking industry, much as I had done in my early years beginning with Overnite Transportation.
It was also very important to keep the company intact for all of those valued customers/clients that have come to depend on the many various services our team provides routinely, while offering the very best in motor carrier services. Looking back on my long career, which began part-time in 1959 at Overnite while in school, until September 21, 2014 (the sale date), I am filled with emotion and much gratitude for so many that have contributed and made me the person I am today, and for the continued success of the combined Cox Companies. I cannot begin to name all of those (it’s far too many) who have contributed so much to our success over the last 32 ½ years, but without all of the safe professional truck drivers who have been the backbone of our company none of this would have been possible.
I now look forward to what may lie ahead for my family and me in this time of retirement transition, but I also look backward with a keen sense of pride and heartfelt gratitude for all those that have made this ride possible for this old trucker. I am especially pleased that, as I move on, I am confident that the employees of this great company under the leadership of its new owner, Jay Smith, will continue to serve our valued customer/clients with the very best of motor carrier services while “Trucking For America.”
John A Cox, Founder