Local company gets state contract

A local truck outfitter recently received good news, which translated into glad tidings for several local workers.W.A. Jones Truck Bodies & Equipment was awarded the contract by Indiana’s Department of Transportation to outfit 62 heavy trucks with all the equipment necessary to remove and/or melt snow and ice during Indiana’s rugged winter months.As a result, the company was able to add nine jobs at its Gateway Industrial Park location in Columbia City.According to Sales Manager Denny McIntyre, this contract was the first one awarded to a new company in nearly a quarter century.“They (INDOT) had been using a company out of Indianapolis for 20 to 25 years,” said McIntyre. “We’re really proud to get this contract.”McIntyre said that business hadn’t been lagging in the first place, but said this new influx of business sweetened the pot.“We’re really pleased,” he said. “We’ve been really busy, but this really sparked us.”McIntyre’s comments were mirrored by company president John McGill.“We’ve been really blessed with the job we got,” said McGill, whose company has another location in Indianapolis.McGill said that the trucks come into the plant as “bare cabs and chassis.”From there, stainless steel beds for hauling salt are added. The beds have state-of-the-art conveyors and spreading systems for dispersing salt and W.A. Jones workers add complex hydraulics equipment and a “pre-wetting” system that puts additives on the salt to help it activate in extremely cold weather and adhere better to slippery ice.The company also adds the most recognizable feature to the truck, the plow.The contract calls for W.A. Jones to finish the 62 trucks by January.“We have 125 hours of labor in each one,” said McGill.The company does work, according to McGill, for nearly every municipality in the state as well as for county highway departments and even outfits trucks for private citizens.“But this municipal work is probably the biggest part of our business,” he said.The company was established in 1880 as Fur Buyers and Cattle Traders and has changed ownership only three times.McGill has co-owned the company with Greg McNeal since 1999.There are 35 employees and four outside sales representatives covering primarily Indiana and Southern Michigan.The company specializes in truck equipment and fire/rescue.