CRST founder dies at age 91 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

CRST founder dies at age 91

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Herald “Smitty” Smith, Jr., the founder of CRST in Cedar Rapids, died Monday at the age of 91 at his home in Door County, Wisconsin after a brief illness.

In 1955, at the age of 31, Smith founded Cedar Rapids Steel Transportation. He had no trucks and no customers, but contracted with owners and operators of trucks hauling livestock to Chicago to haul loads of steel back to Cedar Rapids instead of driving back empty. His first office was a used chicken coop he bought for $125.

Smith was considered a pioneer, growing the business despite the fact the trucking industry was strictly regulated by the Interstate Commerce Commission. Smith would acquire other companies, growing his customer base and delivery area.

While Smith stepped down as president in 1977, he remained as Chairman of the Board and helped the company through the changes brought by deregulation in 1980.

“He was an icon in the transportation business,” CRST International President and CEO Dave Rusch said in a written statement. “He dealt with adversity after the industry was deregulated in 1980. He was a very good man, a born entrepreneur and philanthropist; he will be missed by many.”

Smith is survived by his wife, Miriam, four children – John, Jim, Sharon Smith Konchar and Sue Smith-Johnson and numerous grandchildren.

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