big rig Mark Solomon and his trusty 1998 Kenworth T800

Truck Driver Mark Solomon: A Legacy of Trucking

In the heart of the bustling Chicago area, a remarkable story of trucking legacy and family entrepreneurship unfolds with Mark Solomon and his trusty 1998 Kenworth T800. This isn’t just any truck; it’s a vehicle steeped in history and personal pride. Mark, the sole owner and driver, has been at the helm since he personally ordered it in 1997, taking possession on a memorable January day in 1998. This truck, a symbol of reliability and dedication, is powered by a robust 460-hp N14 Cummins engine, paired with a 13-speed transmission. Despite being a quarter-century old, this Kenworth T800 boasts a mere 460,000 miles, testament to its local work around the Chicago area.

The roots of Solomon Produce, a fifth-generation family-owned wholesale produce distribution company, are deeply embedded in Chicago’s history. The journey began in 1907 with Mark’s great-grandfather, Mike Solomon, a Romanian immigrant who started as a door-to-door produce salesman. Mike’s humble beginnings, selling bananas on the streets of Chicago, laid the foundation for a business that would grow and adapt through generations.

Mike, along with his son Irving, expanded the business beyond produce. They ventured into coal and ice distribution, adapting to seasonal demands. This entrepreneurial spirit was inherited by Mark’s father, Ronnie, who revolutionized the business in the late 1950s. Ronnie was a pioneer, one of the first to equip a straight truck with an insulated and refrigerated body, catering to Chicago’s hotels and restaurants.

Mark’s personal trucking journey is equally fascinating. Since the late 1960s, he has been immersed in the world of trucking, starting as a young boy accompanying his father. By the age of 10, Mark was handling smaller trucks, and by 12, he was adept at maneuvering 10-wheelers. His first solo trucking experience was with a 1982 Ford LNT8000, equipped with a 24-foot reefer box.

Mark’s progression in the trucking world is a tale of ambition and growth. From his first truck, a Ford L8000 purchased in 1985, to a more powerful 1987 Ford LNT9000, his journey reflects a blend of skill and business acumen. A significant milestone was convincing his father to expand into larger operations, leading to the acquisition of their first tractor, a 1992 Ford LNT9000.

Today, as Mark reflects on his journey and his cherished Kenworth T800, he sees not just a truck but a legacy. At 57, celebrating 40 years of full-time driving and managing various aspects of Solomon Produce, Mark’s story is more than just about trucks and business. It’s a narrative of passion, resilience, and a deep connection to the trucking industry. As he looks ahead, there’s an unmistakable sense of pride and anticipation for the future, driving his Kenworth T800 on the streets of Chicago, continuing the legacy of Solomon Produce.

See more photos and thanks: Custom Rigs

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