Wednesday, November 30, 2011

UATF helps Ogden man start trucking company after amputation

By Storee Powell
OGDEN - A self-described rugged individualist wasn’t sure how he could continue to work after losing a leg as a result of artery-clearing surgery.

Sixty-four-year-old Gerald Larsen said work ethic is part of his lifestyle, especially from living in Alaska wilderness for 20 years on his own, minus his team of sled dogs.
Gerald Larsen with his semi-truck in Ogden.
“I started work when I was in grade school, and have been working ever since then,” Larsen said. “Work ethic completes who I am, but since my leg was amputated I have had to accept I can’t work like I used to.”

Larsen said the situation has been hard on his ‘manhood’.
“I can’t jump off a diving board or walk on the beach, things I used to do. But to continue to work helps me compensate for that,” Larsen said. “I don’t want to be a leech and live off the government.”

But after retiring from law enforcement and truck driving, Larsen wasn’t sure what he could go back to work doing. He spent a month working at the Census doing tabulations, and decided he was not an office worker.

“Also, I’m 64 years old, and there’s a lot of things I can’t do,” Larsen said.

Larsen had driven semi-truck loads for 14 years before his surgery, but since he had no left leg, he couldn’t do the clutch. He decided to look for a truck that operated on automatic so he could take a required federal test to prove he could drive and maintain a truck.

He had to look no further than Vocational Rehab in Ogden, which had bought an automatic semi-truck for James Jessop, a paraplegic living in Ogden. Jessop and Larsen agreed to take on the small business loan together and share the trucking company, which Jessop named Big 9 Transport.
The loan for the truck came from the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, a private, non-profit organization that works with Zion's Bank and the Utah Microenterprise Loan Fund to provide low-interest loan to Utahns with disabilities to purchase assistive technology to start or expand small businesses.

But after a month on the road, Jessop realized the alteration of lifestyle required for the job wasn’t for him, and decided not do it.  So Larsen took on the driving himself, and began his own company.

Larsen said, “The folks at Microenterprise helped me develop my concept and business plan. The experience of starting my own business was scary, but the UATF and the Microenterprise Loan Fund helped me understand what to expect when owning a small business,” Larsen said.

Larsen lived in Alaska for
20 years as a dogsled musher.
But the business hasn’t been without its challenges. Rising fuel costs and stagnant freight rates was causing Larsen to lose money. One night while in Chicago, Larsen realized he didn’t have any money to get home and had to borrow money from the company (himself) to get home.

Larsen parked the truck for a few months to figure out a new plan. While applying for a dispatcher job at Specialized Rail Service in Clearfield, the company saw he owned a truck and hired him as a contract driver.

The company found containers for Larsen to pick up with his truck from rail yards, which are all regional deliveries. This means Larsen is home almost every night.
“The job is paying better than cross-country, but it requires more getting in and out of the truck, which is hard for a one-legged old guy,” Larsen said. “I can’t even sweep out my truck because I can’t put the dust pan down.”

Despite the difficulties, the business feels like home. Larsen is used to being with himself and by himself, a required disposition for a person on the road.
“You can think about things or do nothing but hang out, and I enjoy that time,” Larsen said. “I’ve become a good driver, and it is nice to be good at what you do. I will retire to part-time driving when I’m 70, and I will probably die driving truck.”

Through acquiring a disability, Larsen said he thought that meant he couldn’t help other people any more, and they could only help him. 

“But I’ve learned that I help people by making them feel good when they help me,” Larsen said. “People like to help others, and I can give them that opportunity now.”
To learn more about the Utah Assistive Technology Foundation, visit or call 1-800-524-5152.


  1. Such an inspiration. The story of Mr. Larsen is a hope to everyone that life will always have a meaning after trials.

  2. I know Jerry quite well and I am proud of what he is accomplishing out in the real world of employment. I actually helped James and Jerry initially on this project and it is exciting to see it come to fruition.

  3. WOW !!!! What a story. I know you love driving and keep on driving my friend as long as you can. People like you makes this country strong. We need more people like you. Dive safe my friend.