Still a family affair, after 50 years

PHOTO BY BENJAMIN CHASE/PLAINSMAN Lorna and Bernie Feldhaus pose for a photo in front of a wall of safety awards in their Howard trucking operation, Feldhaus Trucking, which has been selected as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner for this year’s Wheel Jam.

HOWARD — Bernie Feldhaus celebrates his 50th year of trucking this summer, and he’s operated Feldhaus Trucking alongside his wife Lorna for 49 of those years.

As the transition of the family’s trucking operations continues to their son, Jeremy, Bernie observed that having buy-in to the future of the business was a huge reason that he’s been successful over the years. Lorna agreed.

“Jeremy took over the booking and dispatching three years ago, and he’s done a wonderful job,” Lorna raved. “It’s always been a family business. If you hire someone that has a vested interest in the business, it works better.”

Bernie and Lorna Feldhaus will be honored at Wheel Jam this year with the Lifetime Achievement Award, a fitting tribute as the couple has spent their lifetime in the trucking industry.

Feldhaus Trucking hauled “all sorts” of livestock in the past, but Bernie estimates that their loads are now 75% cattle. He said that part of the difficulty in finding drivers to haul livestock for one of the six trucks in their fleet is not in the driving, it’s in handling the animals.

“We’ve got two strikes against us trying to hire drivers,” Bernie noted. “First, there’s a big shortage nationwide in drivers. Second, I can teach someone how to drive a truck. You can’t teach everybody how to handle livestock.”

For many years, Bernie worked the road and Lorna split her time between a job at the local bank and handling the books until things simply got to be too busy with the trucking company in the mid-1980s and she moved to the office of Feldhaus Trucking full-time.

Through it all, Bernie enjoyed working with people most of all. Spending any amount of time with Bernie allows him to begin telling stories of hauls that ended up with an accidental rooster on board or other great moments as he traveled across the state and the country. In fact, as he’s stepped back from driving in recent years, that’s the thing he misses most of all.

“We’ve got customers that I’ve hauled their cattle for 40 years,” Bernie recalled when asked what he’d miss the most. “All of the places I have been. I really enjoyed the fall of year going to Montana when we hauled sheep there, but definitely our customers.”

Don’t think that he’s not still involved in the trucking business, however. The trailer wash out business on the Feldhaus facility is an independent business and will still remain something the couple is actively involved in.

“I spend about an hour a day with that,” Bernie said. “Other than that, I really don’t have concrete plans. I have spent all of my adult life in transportation.”

“I think as long as we’re alive, I think we’ll always be connected to it,” Lorna added. “However, I have some flower beds that didn’t get the care that they needed, so now I can spend more time there. I can keep busy!”

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