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Big Into Big Rigs Stewart Ankrum and his inherent affinity for trucks

BY TODD TRAUB Contributing Writer

When Stewart Ankrum was a youngster, he and his brother whiled

away countless hours putting together model trucks. Now that Ankrum, 52, has matured into a responsible adult and

business owner with a world of grown-up pursuits at his disposal he chooses to, well, get together with his brother and build model trucks. “When you like trucks you like trucks,” said Ankrum, one of the

owners of family-owned Ankrum Trucking, Inc., in Billings, Montana. And Ankrum has liked trucks since the day he was born. He liked

trucks when he put together scale replicas with his older brother Dan as a kid, he liked them when he would sneak some time behind the wheel as a teenager and he liked them even when he worked on something as sophisticated as fighter jet avionics during a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps. Ankrum got his start in the trucking business working for the

company founded by his father Harold (who died in 1993), and Stewart always felt he would return to it, though there might have been some brief wavering during his four years in the Marines. But by and large he wound up where he figured he would be, and

he embraced the family business without much hand wringing. To this day Ankrum likes trucks so much he continues to build 1/64 scale models with his brother. “That’s the way we were raised,” Ankrum said. “We were raised

around the trucks; raised around the shop and Dad spent a lot of time building this business up and keeping things running.” Thanks to Ankrum and the rest of Harold’s surviving family, things

are still up and running at Ankrum Trucking. “It’s a family owned and operated business,” Ankrum said of

the nine-truck operation that hauls petroleum products in the northwestern states. “My Dad bought his first truck in 1967. In 1977 he incorporated and then in 1992 he kind of turned things over to me and my brother at the time for day-to-day operations.” Ankrum, his mother Della, Dan and sister Linda Hertoghe, as well


as his late father’s trust, comprise the ownership of Ankrum Trucking. Of the group, only Stewart currently has a hands-on role as company vice president, though his oldest son, Alan, also works there. Not only did Ankrum skip the part in which he is supposed to set

out on his own path and reject the family business, he and his family, as owners, never seriously considered selling out either. It would make a lousy family drama or reality series, but it has

made for a pretty good life, Ankrum said. “It always crosses a guy’s mind off and on,” he said of a possible

sale. “But it’s not something we’ve ever actively pursued. It’s always been part of your life. For me it has and I’m sure it was for my bother too.”

Harold Ankrum began with one truck hauling meat and produce

in 1967, at a time when there were two packing plants in the Billings area. His sons grew up learning the business, and Stewart recalls getting some illicit driving time, helping out on long hauls, that would make today’s safety control types run screaming for their paperwork. “We all learned how to drive; that was part of our family,” Ankrum

said. “[Dad] worked here. We worked here and we learned how to drive a truck at an early age. My brother, he was hauling cattle when he was 18 years old and I’d already pulled a trip to California when I was 17.” In 1971 Harold bought his first tanker and for some time Ankrum

Trucking handled both types of loads. “Dad leased to different people and hauled meat and produce

back into Billings,” Ankrum said. “In the early 1980s we had four trucks leased directly to a company called Pierce Packing then we had three trucks leased to Montana Express that hauled out of the packing plant and then we had three trucks that hauled petroleum products. Pierce went out of business basically in 1984 so we had to go out and do other things. “In 1995, we were doing some reefering, up until 2009 and the

first part of 2010 when the recession kind of hit. We had a couple reefers up to that time yet, but things were really kind of tight on that end so we just discontinued that and here lately we’ve been

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