Little did Vern Gibson realize, back in 1930, that a venture he started (with only a coal shovel, a pick, and a wheel-barrow) would one day become a company that would operate over 450 power units and become one of the largest bulk commodity carriers in the Midwest; a company now known as Gibco Motor Express.
Having been born and raised on a farm, Vern was no stranger to long hours and hard work, but, during The Depression, farm life became even more of a struggle. Vern was raised to believe that if a person was willing to devote whatever it took to get the job done, there was no end to what could be accomplished. One day, Gibson’s neighbor, Danny Moreland, told Vern that a hillside on his farm contained a seam of coal and that he planned to mine enough of the coal to fulfill his family’s winter needs. He told Vern that he would pay him a daily wage if he would help him in his efforts. Vern knew that, by accepting his neighbor’s offer, he would have to put in even more hours than normal, but his desire to help his family was the most important thing to him and he accepted the job.
It wasn’t long before they decided that they could dig a few more tons each day to sell to fellow neighbors in order to offset some of their own costs and generate some additional income. The idea of mining these few extra tons would prove to be the catalyst that would one day become Gibson Coal Company, which was the parent company of Gibco Motor Express.
Having access to a team of horses and a wagon, Vern was now able to begin hauling the coal from the mine site to the surrounding neighbors who did not have the means to transport the coal themselves. These small deliveries, to homes in Clay and Vigo Counties in Indiana, were the first steps in establishing customers and relationships that Vern would maintain for years to come. These deliveries would also be the foundation of what would one day materialize in to a company that would transport over 50,000 tons of coal each day.
Through these early years, Vern steadily increased his customer base and expanded his routes. By now he was supplying coal to not only his surrounding neighbors to heat their homes during the winter months; he had also added some of the areas smaller industrial accounts to his list of customers. Soon, as Vern began accepting this new work and responsibility, area businessmen began taking notice of this enterprising young man and he began to build a name for himself as being hard-working and dependable. This steady flow of income and jobs created the need to involve his family in the owning and operating of the company, and shortly after, his son Max took over Gibco Company completely. Max ran the business for a quite a while, however, he relinquished the company to a larger company by the name of Black Beauty Coal Company in 1984, whose president at the time was Steve Chancellor.
Larry Meeks, a man who was previously employed by Rose Brothers, left the company and began working for Black Beauty. He worked his way up and became president of the company. Around this time, another very important figure in Gibco’s future became involved - Rita Simmons. Larry and Rita got married in 1989, and, in 2005, they decided to purchase the company fully. Larry and Rita firmly believed, and still do, in the family aspect created by the Gibsons, and all seven of their children have worked for them at some point or another.
Four of the seven still work there today; Jeremy, Chad, Jessica and Valerie. Jeremy is the company’s vice president. He has begun to assume a lot of the duties that were once done by his parents in order to pave the way for the future of the company.
Remaining loyal to its customers, and creating and maintaining the family atmosphere within Gibco, are values that the Meeks family has adopted in their practice of running the company, and will continue to be held in the highest importance to the company’s survival.