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Jacksonville Firm in the Iron Biz for the Long Haul

The company is one of the largest woman-owned hauling firms in the country.

Tue March 19, 2013 - Southeast Edition
Eric Olson

When people see wheel loaders and earthmovers busily working on a large job site, such as a road project or bridge replacement, it rarely occurs to them that someone had to actually work to get those giant pieces of equipment to that location.

But, due to the dedicated professionals in the highly specialized field of heavy-hauling, construction equipment is moved into place quickly and efficiently without most people taking notice of it.

One of the country’s best firms at moving oversized equipment where it is needed is Arlington Heavy Hauling Inc., an outfit based in Jacksonville, Fla.

A Woman-Owned Hauler

Started in 1985 as an outgrowth of a Jacksonville towing company, Arlington Heavy Hauling was bought and turned into a separate business in 2001 by Annette Mears and her son, Gary Ayers. Today, the firm has grown to become one of the top haulers in the Southeast, as well as one of the country’s largest women-owned hauling firms.

Ayers said that his company will haul construction machinery or equipment to any place in the United States, but has focused on Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas because those areas seem to be more profitable for the company.

His biggest customers are construction firms and equipment dealerships, he said. He also does a lot of work for highway bridge contractors and crane service, sales and rental companies.

“For example, we often do work for highway contractors,” said Ayers, who serves as vice president of Arlington Heavy Hauling. “If you are driving down Interstate 75 and you see a large crane set up to replace a bridge section, it very well may be that we brought that crane to that job in anywhere from eight to 12 truck loads. The contractor will then assemble the crane as we bring in the components. When they need to leave the job site, we will then have the trucks scheduled to come in and take the crane out to the next job.”

Ayers and his mother, who is president of the company, are just two of about 35 employees of Arlington Heavy Hauling. Most of those employees are drivers, with the rest being in the full-service shop or in the front office.

The business includes a six-bay truck and trailer maintenance facility on seven acres only about 2 mi. from Jacksonville’s massive Blount Island Marine Terminal, the largest container port in north Florida. Arlington’s drivers make frequent pickups and delivery at the port.

Will Haul Most Anything

Virtually any type of equipment can be hauled by Arlington, within capacity limits, Ayers said. In addition, he will move military equipment, as well as any type of freight associated with the construction industry.

“We like to say that we will haul anything ’yellow’ such as Caterpillar or Komatsu equipment, which includes excavators, wheel loaders, etc., but we also will move scaffolding or a large air conditioning unit that might be excessively large,” he stated. “Really, anything specialized relating to the construction industry.”

Other types of equipment that Arlington moves are most brands of crawler cranes and rough terrain cranes, plus dozers, off-road trucks, compactors, pipe layers, skid steers, pavers, log skidders, boom lifts and forklifts, among others.

The firm also is an agent for Greatwide Dallas Mavis, the national trucking service.

A Spin-Off Firm

Arlington Heavy Hauling started in 1985 as the heavy-haul division of Arlington Wrecker, a towing company originally founded in Jacksonville a decade earlier by two of Annette Mears’ brothers. By the mid 1980s, Mears was managing the towing company, but as it grew, the hauling business also grew, so much so that it was getting bigger than the parent firm, Ayers explained.

As a result, Mears and Ayers came to an agreement to purchase the hauling division in 2001 and spin it off on its own.

Ayers said that his business is one that depends a great deal on good word-of-mouth for its success. For that reason, he and his mother have worked hard to maintain an excellent reputation. That means they work hard to make sure their drivers are courteous and professional in all their dealings with the public.

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