In Recognition of Over 50 Years as a Pioneer in…
How the Pope Family is Continuing their Legacy
In 1954, James Ray Pope of Greenville, Texas started a business with one truck hauling potatoes from Colorado to the Dallas Farmer’s Market. This marked the beginning of a fifty year, three-generation endeavor for the Pope Family in the produce and transportation business.
A few years later, James and his wife, Mary formed James’ Produce, a wholesale produce business servicing independent grocery stores and restaurants in the North Texas area. James was often seen with his son David on his many routes. In 1965, James had passed away from an automotive accident leaving behind his devastated wife and nine-year-old son. James’ brother, Billy Pope stepped in. Having a produce company and route of his own, he added James’ route and continued both produce hauling operations. Young David continued to ride along with his Uncle Billy and helped him as much as a young child could. As David grew up, he worked more in the business, and upon graduation from high school in 1974, he joined his Uncle Billy. Together, they grew the business from one small bobtail truck operation unto a small fleet of trucks.
The Beginning of David Pope Produce
In the late 80s, Uncle Billy retired. David and his wife Joy purchased the company and formed David Pope Produce. They continued to service independent grocery stores, restaurants and food service customers until 1999, when David’s major customer, Piggly Wiggly was sold to Affiliated Foods in Little Rock, Arkansas. Due to the rising number of big box stores, smaller independent grocery stores were struggling to survive. Knowing he would have to diversify in order to stay in business, David began contract work hauling produce loads from Texas to Oklahoma for Combs Produce in Dallas, Texas. It wasn’t long until David had more customers and a fleet of trucks hauling within 48 states.
Partnering with Utility Trailer of Dallas, Inc.
As the business expanded, David Pope Produce looked to a local partner to increase the company’s growing fleet. Utility Trailer of Dallas’ Packy Watson, Tim Mooney and Jerry Armitage supported David with his expansion plans, equipping his fleet with new Utility Trailers. In 2003, David’s oldest son, John joined the business upon graduation from Texas A&M University/Commerce with a degree in Business Administration. John became the Operations Manager and oversaw the drivers and dispatch departments. By 2006, the number of independent grocery customers continued to decline resulting in David finally closing the produce operation and focused solely on the trucking side of the business. David’s attention to detail and his determination propelled the business forward; encompassing a fleet of 35 trucks and 40 Utility trailers.
The Third Generation
In June of 2009, David was diagnosed with cancer and sadly lost his battle on July 21, 2011. With his passing, John left the company and became Operations Manager for Muirhead Trucking. Joy sold most of the company’s equipment and closed the business. “I was exhausted from the toll that cancer takes on a caregiver. I lost my rock, my compass and my best friend. I did not have the drive and stamina that my husband had to keep the trucks rolling, but I knew that someday our youngest son, Dustin would graduate from college and bring the company back to life,” said Joy. David and Joy’s youngest son, Dustin, is currently a senior at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. “My Dad always stressed the importance of a college education. My brother John and sister Julie both have their degrees, and I promised my Dad I would finish college.
A Tribute to David Pope
Last summer, Dustin oversaw an amazing transformation of his father’s own personal 2003 W900 Kenworth Truck and 2010 Utility 3000R® reefer trailer. Von Otto, a brilliant airbrush artist from Waco, Texas painted a beautiful mural on the trailer in honor of David, his family, friends and customers. Otto hand painted several old Utility logos on the trailer in honor of their friends at Utility Trailer of Dallas. “Utility Trailer has always been there for my dad and his company. They are like an extended family to us,” said Dustin. Dustin has entered the tribute rig in several trucking shows in 2012, and has been honored with many coveted awards. “My father was my hero and the hardest working man I have ever met. He kept his fleet in immaculate condition and hired only top-notch drivers. I hope some day to start my own family and continue the legacy my grandfather started in 1954,” stated Dustin. As the third generation in the business, Dustin’s vision for the future is limitless. “The support from the folks at the Dallas dealership has been tremendous. They’ve known me since I was a kid, and I’m looking forward to working with them to get the business back to the success it was, and I intend to do that in honor of my Dad.”