NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — Independent musician and truck driver Tony Justice has been selected as the second person to be inducted into the inaugural class of the Howes Hall of Fame for 2020.
“It is just a huge honor,” Justice said. “Something I never would have dreamed about or thought about. It brings a positive light on the industry that we have gathered that much support. It is a really big honor.”
According to a press release from Howes, Justice has sold more than 100,000 albums in the past nine years — in addition to averaging more than 2,500 miles per week as a professional truck driver for the past 20 years. Justice said a lot of his inspiration for his music has come from being on the road.
“I probably do 90 percent of my writing on the road, because I spend a lot of hours on the road,” Justice said. “You see a lot of good things and good people driving across America and crossing the Rocky Mountains. There is so much to see out there. There is a lot inspiration.”
When Justice is not on the road, he is recording his music. He is currently working on his fifth album for the independent label he owns. He said trying to juggle trucking and music can be pretty challenging at times.
“I’ve been writing songs and playing music since 1991. I enjoy the creativity side of it such as the writing and putting the stories out there of what we go through on the road,” he said. “We started putting music to it, and it was something I wanted to record. To watch it come to life is something I have really enjoyed, and the performing side of it is a lot of fun as well — those are the two highlights.”
Justice has performed all over the country, including venues in South Dakota; Louisville, Kentucky; Las Vegas; Texas; Atlanta; and Charlotte, North Carolina. He said he also played clubs for nine years on the east coast.
“We just felt like (Tony) was such an inspiration and ridiculously hard-working,” said Erika Howes, vice president of business development for Howes. “He makes music about the industry and he is hands-on with everything he does.
“He cares about people and he interacts with his fans, and listens to their story. He is a really down-to-earth guy, especially with his fellow drivers. He entertains and encourages people. He is so proud to represent America’s blue-collar working class,” she continued. “He embodies what we wanted to represent in the hall of fame.”
Justice is a company driver for Everhart Transport Inc. out of Greenville, Tennessee. He said he has been fortunate that a lot of the company’s customers are considered “necessities.”
“His songs are about this industry and what we represent,” Howes said. “He is hands-on with his own label. It is such a unique story that we found to be really interesting and inspiring.”
Justice has been around trucking his whole life. When he was growing up in eastern Kentucky, he said, his dad had three trucks. Justice and his siblings would service the trucks and wash them on the weekends. He said he can never remember a time where trucks were not a part of his life.
“I am still driving full time,” he said. “I like to tell people, ‘I haven’t quit my day job.’ I’m still putting up with it because I enjoy doing it. I have a great support group at home.”
Justice said that right now his biggest challenge is trying to take care of his mom, Sharon, and his wife, Misty. Misty had breast cancer last year but is currently in remission.
“My mom lives with me, and my biggest challenge is that I don’t bring anything (contagious) home,” Justice said. “I’m taking a lot of extra measures. We are used to going into stores and buying drinks or food, but now we have to get everything stocked in the truck and stay in my ‘bubble.’ I have to distance myself from things I normally do. It is a change from normal.”
The Howes Hall of Fame is part of the company’s 100th anniversary. According to a press release, the Hall of Fame “serves as a platform for Howes to thank and acknowledge all the great work that has, and does, go on in the trucking and agricultural industries.” For more information, visit the website at www.howesproducts.com/HOF.
Ellen Voie, president and CEO of the Women in Trucking Association, was the first inductee announced. A third inductee will be announced next month.
“We started the hall of fame this year, and going forward we are hoping to induct a few people once or twice a year,” Howes said. “This year we sourced out people with the representation that we are looking for, but next year, we will open up nominations to the public.
“We don’t want it all be about us,” she said. “We are looking to recognize the trucking and farming industry for their contribution and what they have done to keep the industry going.”