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10 Fast Facts About The Inventor of the Reefer Trailer

10 Fast Facts About The Inventor Of The Reefer Trailer - K&J Trucking

We get it, there aren't a lot of companies that get super excited about the history of refrigerated trucking, but at K&J Trucking we are passionate about our industry. Here are some fast facts about Fred Jones, the inventor of the reefer trailer and the father of the refrigerated trucking industry. 

1. He spent much of his childhood in a church.

Fred Jones' father was a railroad man and his mother passed away when Jones was an infant. Jones' father took him to a rector in the Catholic church and asked that Jones be allowed to live at the church in exchange for cleaning, mowing and shoveling snow for the parish. His father hoped that this opportunity would mean that Jones could get a quality education that he couldn't provide.

2. He became foreman of a garage at the age of 15. 

In 1905, when he was only 12, Fred ran away from the church and got a job sweeping floors and cleaning for a car mechanic's shop. Fred watched the mechanics closely and read everything he could get his hands on so he could learn the industry. Fred's self-education allowed him to rise to the position of foreman, but he didn't stop there. He didn't want to just repair cars, so he started building racecars and other inventions in the shop.

4. He was a well-known Ohio car racer. 

His most famous car was simply known as Number 15. He was known for soundly defeating his fellow racers. In fact, the car was so well-made that Jones even defeated an airplane in one race! 

5. He proudly served in WWI. 

Even while serving in France, Jones didn't stop inventing. He recruited German prisoners of war and together they managed to wire the camp for electricity, telephone and telegraph service!

6. He invented a snow machine with an airplane and skis.

When Fred Jones returned home after the war he worked for several doctors as their driver, getting them around town in all types of weather. When he realized that the snow was making it hard for the doctors to reach their patients he took an old airplane and added skis to the undercarriage! His snow machine was known for traveling around town at very high speeds!

7. He was a prolific inventor with 61 patents.

Jones invented a portable x-ray machine for the doctors after one complained that he was having trouble getting homebound patients to come in for x-rays.  He also invented his own radio transmitter, personal radios, and even a motion picture device. In 1927, Jones helped a friend upgrade a silent movie theater into a theater that could show "talkies". Jones took scrap metal and spare parts and created a complete state-of-the-art sound system for the theater. This attracted the attention of both AT&T and RCA executives who were amazed at Jones' technical knowledge despite his lack of any formal education. 

8. It all started because of a load of chickens.

Jones was hired by Joe Numero in Minneapolis, MN to work on improving his cinematic products, but when Numero was presented with the unique challenge of getting a load of fresh chickens to market without spoilage, Jones rose to the occasion. In 1938, Jones invented what would one day be known as the first reefer trailer. It used a portable air cooling unit to maintain cool temperatures. 

9. His invention revolutionized the trucking industry. 

When Jones and Numero patented their design and formed a company called Thermo King, they completely changed not just the trucking industry, but the entire food industry. Suddenly you could get foods from far flung locations and ensure their good quality.  In just 10 years the company grew to a net worth of over 3 million dollars; and the modern supermarket was born. 

10. Reefer trailer technology now affects all industries.

From carrying blood plasma behind enemy lines to shipping zoo animals and baseball cards, the invention of the refrigerated trailer has touched almost every industry. Reefer trailer technology has changed a lot over the years, but without the vision of Fred Jones, things might look quite different at companies like K&J Trucking. 


Are you a trucker wondering if driving a reefer trailer might be right for you? We want to talk! Click the link below to start a conversation and see if K&J Trucking might be the right move for you! We are hiring!

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