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At age 100 plus, Cushing Transportation, Inc. has become an important regional intermodal carrier serving Chicago and numerous locations within a 300-mile radius of the windy city.

The company really has two histories; early 20th century and late 20th century. The first history saw a small company grow from the horse and buggy age into a modern trucking company. The second involves leadership that has positioned the company for growth as an intermodal carrier. a

First things first, John J. Cushing Teaming was founded in the late 1800s. Lack of records make pinpointing the exact date difficult. Nevertheless, the company has been picking up and delivering goods in Chicago and the surrounding region since the days of horses and wagons. With the introduction of trucks in the early 1900s, the company's name changed accordingly to the John J. Cushing Trucking Company.

For the next 50 years, the company prospered during the boom years of the 1920s, suffered during the disaster years of the Depression, and recovered during the way years of mid-century.

In 1943, John Pacella, Cushing's past president, joined the firm as a driver and began to work his way up. He really didn't have far to go. Cushing was a small company, which as late as 1967 ran only five trucks under Illinois intrastate transportation authority. Business still focused on local cartage in the Chicago area.

In 1967, John Pacella began to change Cushing, as the trucking industry in general began to change. Cushing had always been a family business and the long-time owner died that year. The family offered to sell the company to John Pacella. With an eye on the future, he took the leap.

Several years later, John brought his son's, Tony, Jimmy and John Jr. into the business as a driver's. "We began converting the company's service from local cartage to intermodal drayage almost immediately," says Tony Pacella, who has become Cushing's president. "At that time piggyback was just starting to grow, and we started working for the railroads. Within a couple of years, we converted over about 90 percent intermodal work and shortened our name to Cushing Trucking, Inc."

It was a good decision. The company has experienced steady growth since 1967. Despite the problems deregulation created for many small carriers, Cushing made it through the period with relatively few problems. In 1995 we adjusted our name again to Cushing Transportation, Inc. a The company keeps about 140 drivers busy, including about 100 independent owner/operators with their own tractors.

As an intermodal carrier, Cushing does not maintain a fleet of trailers matched to its tractors. "We have about 20 trailers, which doesn't sound right," says Tony Pacella. "But we pull a lot of railroad equipment.

"If a shipper wants to pick up a load in Chicago and send it to Los Angeles, for example, we would go to a rail yard, and get an empty rail trailer, take it to the shipper for loading and bring it back to the rail yard. They'll pull it on the train and take it to L.A. where another drayage company will pick it up and deliver it."

Cushing maintains interchange agreements with all the major and some minor rail lines that serve Chicago, as well as 65 steamship companies. "An interchange agreement enables us to pick up and deliver their equipment and lays out our responsibilities for the equipment while it's in our possession," Pacella explains.

Intermodal carriers such as Cushing do, however, own specialized fleets of container chassis. Cushing's inventory includes 40-foot stretch chassis, 40-foot gooseneck chassis, 40-foot flat chassis, 40-foot combos and triaxles which expand to more than 40 feet.

Specialized chassis equipment enables the company to serve the variety of intermodal container needs typical of rail and steamship lines. "As intermodal trucking grows specialty equipment is what gets the business," says Tony Pacella. "More and more of our customers are calling for different sizes of specialized chassis. The reason is that a 20-foot container has a certain amount of weight. To meet the requirements of bridge laws written to control the effect trucks have on bridges, companies need longer and shorter chassis.

"For example, if you have a heavy 20-foot container you would have to find a trucking company like ours--with a chassis long enough to comply with the regulations."

About 65 percent of Cushing's business is city and suburban intermodal pickup and delivery. The rest is regional intermodal hauling within a 300-mile radius of Chicago, which includes yards in southern Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

"In Chicago," says Tony Pacella, "short rail service out to 300 miles is gone. And regional trucking companies feed the ramps in the city."

Cushing moves a variety of general commodities from paper products to food products throughout this region. The company's customers include major rail carriers such as Burlington Northern, Southern Pacific, IC, Soo Line, Conrail, and others with yards in Chicago. "We also do a lot of work for third-party shippers and quite a few steamship lines," Tony Pacella adds.

Despite the continuing bitterness between some trucking and rail companies, Pacella says intermodal trucking is the wave of the future. "It's really changing. Trucking companies are becoming customers of the rail lines," he says. "People are beginning to realize how dependable and efficient intermodal shipping can be. Between Chicago and the west coast, for instance, intermodal is faster than a truck." a

In fact, the Midwestern trucking industry seems to have outdistanced the rest of the country in its acceptance of intermodal cooperation between carriers.

Recently, for example, the Midwest Intermodal Truckers Association joined forces with the Illinois Transportation Associations and became the Intermodal Council of the ITA.

Cushing joined ITA about eight years ago when John Pacella decided the company had grown large enough to contribute to the management of industry affairs.

Since then, Tony Pacella has served the association in a number of capacities. He has been on the board of directors and will be elected president of the organization at the 1996 Annual Election and Convention.

On October 9, 1999 John R. Pacella (Past President of Cushing Trucking), Anthony J. Pacella (Current President) and Jerome Miceli (Director of Sales and Marketing) were honored as " Top Trucking Executives of the Millennium" by the Illinois Transportation.

Association. Anthony J. Pacella was Chosen "Man of the Year 2000". He was picked because of his continued Leadership & Commitment to the Industry both in Illinois and at National levels over 32 years. He is a past ITA Chairman, Past Director of Intermodal Conference for the ATA, Past President Midwest Intermodal Truckers Assoc. as well as a member of numerous Transportation Industry and Community Organizations.

Looking to the future and the stress on Safety, Mary Jo Arredia was brought on board in 1998. Ms. Arredia brought with her a BA in Sociology/English as well as 20 plus years in the transportation industry including everything from being a truck driver to dispatching and then focusing on the Regulations and Safety Aspect for over 16 years. Cushing has received Trailermobile Safety Awards for "Outstanding Safety Record in the State of Illinois" for 1998-1999, 1999-2000. Mary Jo received the 1999 Road Patrol Observer of the Year from the Illinois Safety Management Council recognizing her outstanding contributions to Highway Safety. November of 2000 Mary Jo Arredia was host to the Japanese Truck Drivers delegation that represented the Winners of their National TYO SHU drivers contest. Chicago was the first stop on their 7-day visit as well as the only place they viewed trucking in the U.S. Mary Jo arranged and guided the group on a varied tour of transportation in the area.

In September 2001, Trailmobile in Cooperation with the American Trucking Associations Safety Management Council awarded Mary Jo Arredia the "Illinois Director of Safety" Award. She has the distinction of being the first Woman to ever receive this award.

Cushing Transportation, Inc. and it's people are involved in the transportation industry not just as it affects their own company but as it affects the Public at large, striving for a Safer more Prosperous Industry.