Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Ultimate choice

That should have a familiar ring to it to anyone who’s been involved in truck shows in the past 18 years or so and to so many more truckers who have pride in their ride and just want to enhance its appearance.

For those who don't, that's the advertising motto for Rockwood Products.

Bob Martin's Pick of the Litter trophy.
I first met Carl Carstens, owner and founder of Rockwood, at the Iowa 80 Truckers Jamboree in 1994. Carl was there selling African rosewood interior accessories, working out of his van rather than a vendor’s booth. I bet the folks at Iowa 80 are glad now that they didn’t take offense and run him off.

About the time I came along and started making a pest of myself on the phone with Carl and showing up at Rockwood Products, he was just getting into the stainless accessories. Today, the Rockwood stainless accessories are the top of the line. There aren't many chrome shops, truck stops, Peterbilt or Kenworth dealers who don’t carry the Rockwood line of accessories.

For a long time everything he did was for Peterbilt trucks, but he finally gave into the pressure and developed a full line for Kenworths. That’s fine. KW and Pete are Paccar family and both are top of the heap.

Carl is an ovalhead extraordinaire. He could be the point man for those of us that are ate up with Peterbilt … and there are many of us.

I had some good times at the shop, getting him to make custom pieces for me, a couple of which ended up in production.

My favorite memory is when I got picked for a spread in Peterbilt’s magazine, First Class. The editor who had the assignment told me that he had access to a Lear jet and could meet me anywhere for the photo shoot and interview, just figure out a when and a where. I couldn’t wait to call Carl.

Carl seemed just as excited as I was and asked where we were going to do the shoot? I told him “at Rockwood Products” and the phone went silent for a long time, I was afraid he might have had a stroke. He was blown away. Since then I’m sure he has met with many Peterbilt higher-ups, but back then he was just an ovalhead like the rest of us.

I haven’t been in close contact with Carl since we quit doing the shows, but I know he is involved and participates in charity truck shows like the Truckin’ For Kids event in Irwindale, CA. And there’s the Golden State Trucking Show in Pomona, too. Rockwood designs and furnishes the trophies for these shows and others, including the Mid-America Trucking Show at Louisville. They make most of the other truck show trophies look like bowling trophies.

Donnie Doverspike and Carl Carstens
Personally, I think as far as charities go, Carl outdid himself sometime early last year by donating, along with some sponsors, a 2004 Peterbilt. He had planned on restoring the truck but instead donated it to the Clarion County Career Center in Shippenville, PA, for the Diesel Technology Class project. He sent along all they would need to create a drop dead interior.

The youngsters brought the truck – aptly called “Extra Credit” – to this year’s MATS, where they earned a special achievement award and a trophy. It looked like most or all of the class was there. What an experience being at MATS had to be for them. They got a firsthand look at the trucking industry they never could have gotten in the classroom.

As for the trophies, I was lucky enough to receive one at this year’s MATS too, along with congrats/get well cards signed by many people. Carl signed it with a note that I was “a good friend to Rockwood.” 

That cuts both ways, my friend. Carry on.

2 comments:

  1. What a great tribute, from one fantastic friend of our industry to another.
    Well said, Bob. Well done, Carl. I'm proud to know both of you.

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  2. Very well written Bob, Carl holds a special place in a lot of people's hearts. He is a good friend to many and a dedicated player in the trucking industry.

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