The 1930’s were tough times if you were in the trucking business. Before the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1935 there were no rules in place and cut throat competition among truckers made it impossible for the shipping public to receive reliable service. Adding also to the hard times was the ongoing depression.
My father- John C. Crim- was a partner and manager of a truck line based in Joplin, Mo. called Sunflower Transfer & Storage. It started in 1933 and served the Kansas City to Joplin area and points in Southeast Kansas, Northeast Oklahoma and Western Arkansas.
Truckers were beginning to start associations such as the American Trucking Association and the Missouri Bus & Trucking Association.* They knew that there had to be some rules and regulations in their industry. Frank Campbell and John Crim would have no doubt met at a meeting of one of these Associations. They became friends. Frank enjoyed playing poker and he would visit Wilders Restaurant in Joplin,( a few blocks from the Sunflower Terminal), a place that was known to have a poker game going on regularly on the 2nd. Both men knew their companies were in bad financial shape and began discussing ways to put the two lines together. A lawyer by the name of Stanley Clay in Joplin put the deal together. Clay would say years later that the biggest difficulty they had to work out was- Who would buy out who? He said they practically flipped a coin to finally decide that Frank would buy out John if John would stay on and continue to manage the Joplin operation.
The ICC approved the merger in 1941.** This merger brought the Campbell 66 authority down Route 66- the Mother Road- serving the many cities along the way. The timing could not have been better. Business for the company increased greatly with the outbreak of World War II and the government would become one of the company’s largest customers and would remain so during its existence.
*The Missouri Bus & Truck Association presents an annual ward to a person in Trucking who provides a record of outstanding service to the trucking
industry in Missouri. The award is named “ The Frank G. Campbell Award”.
**In 1941 Campbell 66 Express had 108 tractors, 128 trailers , 70 pickup trucks and 17 terminals. The trailers were 31 feet long and could handle 30,000 lbs.