A Conversation With: James GermakOwner, Jagtrux Inc.
James Germak, 68, started Jagtrux Inc. in 1982 after driving trucks on the side while earning an associate degree at Harrisburg Area Community College.
The company has been a family affair from the beginning, as his wife, Linda, handled the bookkeeping and he was its original driver.
Germak has served on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association. He also is a founding partner of Hess Auctioneers in Marietta, a truck, trailer and equipment auc-tion.
He and Linda have been married 43 years and live on a small farm in West Donegal Township. In addition to their three children, they have seven grandchildren and another on the way.
Q: How many family members are involved in Jagtrux and how did they become involved?
A: I have three children. At one point or another they all worked here. My daughter has left the company; she went back into the nursing field. But I have two sons who are both involved. The youngest, Zach, has taken over the company reins and is president. My oldest son, Andrew, is a mechanic and he runs our shop and maintenance program. Most of the people here have been here a long time so it’s like one big family. My wife still stops in from time to time if we need additional help. I am officially retired. I do come to work most days but I have other ventures that I deal with. My sons have been here from almost the diaper stage. Andrew, he’s never held a job outside our company. He’s very knowledgeable and in this day and age to have somebody with that kind of longevity is a blessing.
What are some things younger generations should know before they get involved in a family company?
I always tell people it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle. When you run your own company, sometimes family has to take second place. That may not sound appropriate but sometimes it has to happen. That’s one reason I think we’re successful. When the phone rings, we answer it. Weekends, holidays, the drivers all have our cell phones or home phone and if they have a problem they call. It’s not something you do 40 hours and go home and forget. The children have to understand that. If they want that 9-to-5 job, it’s not going to be in this business here.
What advantage does Jagtrux gain as a family-owned business?
I think we’re much more attuned to the customers’ needs. We don’t have a big bureaucracy to deal with to get things done. Decisions are done promptly and ef-ficiently and in the best interest of the customer. We don’t make excuses, we don’t pass the buck. It’s dealt with right here and now.
Tell us about a favorite family vacation.
The first 17 years we were in business, we did not take a vacation, not a day off other than maybe a Saturday afternoon or a Sunday afternoon at the river or a quick trip to the shore for a day. My daughter was graduating from high school, and she said, "Dad, we have never taken a family vacation," and, boy, that hit me like a ton of bricks. We had always wanted to go to Raystown Lake and rent a houseboat, and we did that. We rented a houseboat and spent a week on the lake and had the time of our lives. We’ve done it many times since, but that first time was just spectacular.