On March 26, 2010, Neil Smith took the controls of a JCB 3CX backhoe loader and began a journey across the United States, driving from coast to coast to raise awareness and funding for the American Red Cross.
But Smith’s history with JCB started years earlier, and an ocean away.
When Smith was growing up in Rocester, England, he walked by a large factory on his way to school each and every day. That factory was heavy equipment manufacturer JCB’s world headquarters.
Smith dreamed of operating JCB’s powerful, bright yellow machines — but he had no way of knowing that the family-owned manufacturer would play a major role in his life for many years to come.
In 1974, Smith took his first job with JCB, working as a setter operator in the machine shop. Over the years that followed, he worked in various business units within the company until he eventually learned of a job opening with JCB’s demo team. This particular position involved his childhood dream — driving JCB machines. From then on, Smith lived that dream, operating JCB machines and demonstrating their capabilities to crowds at equipment shows and special events all over the world.
Smith’s first trip to the United States with JCB took place back in 1998 when he was asked to operate machines as part of a groundbreaking celebration for JCB’s North American Headquarters in Savannah, Ga. At the time, John Patterson, JCB’s current deputy chairman, was serving as the company’s global CEO, and he asked Smith to return to the Savannah facility in 2000, presenting him with the task of establishing and training a new, U.S.-based demo team. Smith took the challenge head-on, and is now entering his tenth year in Savannah and his thirty-sixth year with JCB.
Smith’s 2010 journey across the United States took approximately one month to complete. The trek began at Tybee Beach on the Atlantic Ocean and ended at the Pacific Ocean at the famous Santa Monica Pier.
“Over the years, the people of JCB have become like a second family to me,” Smith said. “As a member of that family, I feel that it’s my job do as much as I can to help JCB support our global community in times of crisis. I’m truly excited to get this ’show on the road,’ and start this latest adventure in my career with JCB.”