Jack McComb’s heart lives in Littleton, but his life is on the road.
“I enjoy driving and seeing different things,” he said. “It’s not exactly like being a tourist, because there’s a lot of places the truck can’t go. But I get to see the countryside and meet a lot of interesting people. It’s enjoyable and relaxing to me.”
McComb is spending his retirement as an independent trucker, and he recently took home an award from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association for 10 years of safe, accident-free driving.
“I don’t know how I got into trucking, but one day I just woke up in a truck,” he jokes. “I always wanted to drive a truck. I didn’t really intend to make a career out of it, but here I am.”
His career highway has had a lot of curves. After graduating from George Washington High School, he played football for CU Boulder, winning the Rose Bowl twice. That, plus the fact that he missed the lottery by one number, kept him out of Vietnam.
He majored in business, but started his career as an air-traffic controller. He made it through the now-infamous strike, having been transferred to a different department. But he remembers it well.
“It was a safety issue,” he said. “We were still using World War II radar. It was dangerous.”
After retiring from the Federal Aviation Administration, he wound up spending about five years as a Boulder County sheriff’s deputy. Then he thought he’d try putting his master’s degree in finance to use, launching a corporate-tax consulting firm. He quickly realized he needed more action in his life.
“I don’t know why I got into finance,” he said.
So he started Littleton-based Elite One Paramedic Services, offering on-set emergency services to what was then a burgeoning film industry in Colorado. He worked with some big names, including Steven Seagal in “Under Siege 2,” Ben Affleck in “Phantoms,” Danny Glover and Dennis Quaide in “Switchback” and Loni Anderson and Hulk Hogan in “3 Ninjas,” which was filmed at the old Elitch’s.
That star-studded experience led to a relationship with Warner Bros. and eventually to his first trucking job, driving for that company. Finally he bought his own truck, and now hauls trade-show setups to conventions and corporate meetings across the country.
“I’m licensed in all 48 states, but I go out of my way to stay west of Ohio,” he said. “I hate the East Coast. I like Vegas a lot. It’s the convention capital of the world, and the weather doesn’t get terrible. Sometimes it’s terrible getting over the mountains, and there are good places to stay. Truck stops are the worst place in the world to be.”
His industry has changed a lot over the years, he says.
“When I first started, radios were going constantly,” he said. “Today, I can go forever and never hear anybody. The camaraderie is gone. Today you hardly ever hear anybody ask if you need help. They all have cell phones, and they call for help. And the young kids, it’s not their fault, but they’re not getting the training they need.”
And that’s where OOIDA comes in, he says, lobbying Washington, D.C., for tighter safety regulations.
“You have to care about safety, your own safety and you have to consider the safety and well-being about the other people, even though they don’t care about you.”