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Member Spotlight Blaine Batten, Batten Trailer Leasing

BY TODD TRAUB Contributing Writer

Standing with a gas pump in his hand,16-

year-old Blaine Batten had the perfect vantage point from which to watch the big rigs mosey off Highway 30 to slake their thirst for fuel. From his post at the pump, which he

operated in his part-time job at the local Tompson-Sinclair Truck Stop, Batten could see, passing in review, the great old Internatioal RDC-405Ls with the twin stacks, the Mack H-61 Cherry Pickers, the high performance but creature-comfort deficient White 300s. Tey belonged to outfits like ICX, Denver-Chicago, Little Audrey’s and were gleaming and new then, collector’s items now. Batten, owner and founder of Omaha-

based Batten Trailer Leasing, should know. He collects trucks. A member of the American Truck

Historical Society since 1996, Batten, who has lent his services as the Midwest Chapter vice president, owns seven antique trucks, including a 1951 White WC22 that he has loaned to student truck driving championships, while toy truck displays adorn his office walls. His fellow antique truck enthusiasts have

described him as a “walking encyclopedia” of Omaha area trucks and it’s a distinction Batten has earned well. As a longtime member of the Nebraska Trucking Association, Batten puts his antique truck expertise to good use on behalf of the Iowa-Nebraska Classic Truck Show each year, organizing an antique truck show and “show and shine” for the modern trucks of working members.


“He’s always shown up for events, he always

speaks positively of the industry, the association and his fellow members,” Nebraska Trucking Association President Larry Johnson said. Batten, who lives in Waterloo, grew up on

his family’s farm in Fremont and as a teenager he got his job pumping gas nights and weekends at Tompson-Sinclair, where he cultivated his interest in big rigs. His is a career that has taken him into

different aspects of the industry but has always kept him close to the vehicles that fascinate him. Batten graduated high school in 1964 and

worked at an Omaha Mack dealership in the parts department. Obtaining his chauffer’s license, Batten drove trucks for several companies before returning to the dealership, this time in sales. He sold Brown-made trailers and then sold

used semis before, in 1980, becoming a freight salesman with Werner Enterprises, helping to keep the company’s fleet of 300 trucks loaded with cargo. Batten went into business for himself in

1984 when founded the company that bears his name, setting up headquarters in the old Navajo Freight Lines location in Omaha. He adopted a company policy that saw him rent reefers, vans and flatbeds to customers basically for as long

as their needs allowed, whether it was a day or a month. Te company still touts its daily, weekly

and monthly rental term flexibility, along with its diverse fleet and reliable equipment. Batten also keeps four trucks on the road, a fleet he downsized from its high point of 14. Batten owns about 450 assorted trailers of

all makes and models. Batten Trailer Leasing also expanded into buying out-of-business freight companies’ properties and renting them to other haulers that needed a drop spot. Batten also keeps his CDL current and

drives a truck himself once in awhile. Like all businesses the job has had its

challenges, some of them beyond the ordinary. In 2012 a would-be thief, trying to escape in his pickup, rammed a fence and struck Batten in the process, but Samaritans helped catch the thief turned hit-and-run driver and Batten recovered from injuries to his hands and face, preserving a reputation for toughness along the way. Johnson acknowledged that reputation exists

but also noted it was belied just slightly by the fact that Batten keeps a pair of “guard cats” at his office that he treats “like a million bucks.” “He can have that tough outer shell,”

Johnson agreed, “but he has a huge heart.” NT NEBRASKA TRUCKER — ISSUE 5, 2015 — 19 HIS FELLOW ANTIQUE TRUCK

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