Schultz Equipment and Parts Company Inc., an International dealer in Iron Mountain, MI, for more than 30 years, was filling Santa’s shoes as the official transporter of this year’s United States Capitol Holiday Tree, coined “The People’s Tree,” from the Ottawa National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The actual truck that transported the People’s Tree was an International 9900ix Pro-Sleeper. An International 8100 6x4 accompanied the International 9900ix and carried 70 smaller trees for placement throughout Washington, D.C.
Two drivers rotated driving the two trucks during the route. One driver, Wendell Sanders, is a retired 40-year veteran of truck driving and a former Dickinson County commissioner.
Born in Frankenmuth, MI, Sanders started his truck-driving career at the age of 19. For two years, Sanders drove an International Harvester (now International Truck and Engine Corporation) K7 truck for Port Washington truck line in Port Washington, WI.
Later, he worked for Peninsula Beverage Company in Iron Mountain, MI, for two years. After Peninsula Beverage Company, Sanders worked for Claremont Transfer for 27 years. He had a year break as an International Harvester salesman for Schultz Parts and Equipment Company Inc. The International dealership called Sanders to deliver the Tree of Hope from Michigan to Washington, D.C.
At Claremont Transfer, Sanders held many positions during his tenure including dock foreman, night supervisor and city delivery. However, when hauling freight, he drove an International Harvester Fleetstar truck.
Sanders ended his truck driving career with Roadway Express, where he worked for seven years and drove many makes and models of freight trucks.
Besides truck driving, Sanders was involved in local Michigan politics for 30 years. He first served his town of Hardwood, MI, as a township supervisor and then as the Dickson County commissioner, a position he held for several years. Sanders also served as chairman of the county board and a county road commissioner.
Now retired, Sanders is still politically active. Currently, he’s campaigning for a highway memorial and monument in honor of Oscar Johnson, a lifelong Upper Peninsula resident who was served the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during World War II.
Johnson was a neighbor and Sanders family friend and was the only one of seven soldiers to survive over a day and a half attack by more than 80 German soldiers in Italy.
The second driver, Harold Henricksen, also is a retired truck driver and hauled chocolate products to internationally recognized candy companies across the country during his career.
Henricksen comes to this Tree of Hope transportation project with truck driving experience that dates back to 1954, when he was driving in a truck alongside his father as a child.
The Henricksen family lived among the logging industry in Kingsford, MI, and his father hauled logs and lumber in an International Harvester (now International Truck and Engine Corporation) L-180 or L-190 truck.
Henricksen began his truck-driving career in 1959 driving for various trucking companies, but settled in with Ambrosia Chocolate (now known as ADM Cocoa) in Milwaukee, WI, in 1964.
For 31 years, he hauled chocolate products to famous candy companies including M&M’s/Mars Inc., Curtis Candy Company, Nabisco Inc., Keebler Company and Heath Candy bar. The truck he drove was an International Harvester Transtar cabover that included a sleeper for the long hauls he made coast-to-coast.
“Representatives of International Truck and Engine Corporation and Schultz Equipment and Parts Company Inc., listened to the People’s Tree committee in Michigan to provide the best performing, powerful and good-looking International product for this special project,” said Steve Keate, president, truck group, International Truck and Engine Corporation. “We’re honored to participate in bestowing this gift to the nation and we are committed to delivering the People’s Tree to its destination on time and in excellent condition.”
The silver International 9900ix that transported the tree was loaded with a 525-hp (391 kW) Cummins engine, an 18-speed Fuller transmission, Rockwell axles, Alcoa aluminum wheels, Goodyear tires and a Holland fifth wheel. The white International 8100 6x4 was outfitted with a Cummins engine, an 18-speed Fuller transmission, Rockwell axles, Alcoa wheels and Goodyear tires. Meijer stores decorated the outside of the trucks with graphics of this year’s People’s Tree logo, Christmas ornaments and sponsor logos.
The People’s Tree dates back to 1969. Each year since then, the USDA-Forest Service and one state bestows the special gift to the nation. This year, the state of Michigan, the Ottawa National Forest and the USDA-Forest Service donated the People’s Tree and named it the “Tree of Hope.” The Tree of Hope is a 67-year old, 74-ft. white spruce chosen by Matthew Evans, landscape architect, U.S. Capitol.
After the Nov. 13, tree cutting, the caravan stopped at 10 communities in Michigan while on its way to Washington, D.C. On December 11, the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert (R-IL), lit the tree where it will be displayed for five weeks during the holiday season. After the holidays, the tree will be milled into lumber and used in a Habitat for Humanity home in Michigan and tree seedlings from the Tree of Hope will be planted throughout the state.
International Truck and Engine Corporation is the operating company of Navistar International Corporation, which is headquartered in Warrenville, IL, a suburb of Chicago.
For more information, visit the Tree of Hope Web site at www.holidaytree2001.org or www.InternationalDelivers.com. CEG
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