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Heartfelt Congratulations to Jim

In late March, Jim Dondlinger sent an email to all Auto Truck employees thanking them for their contributions as Auto Truck Group celebrated its 100th anniversary. He also took the opportunity to announce that at an anniversary luncheon this July, at the Auto Truck headquarters, he will celebrate his 70th birthday and his official retirement.

When Jim talks about his first memories of Auto Truck in the late 1950s, it’s like it happened just yesterday: “My grandfather Don lived next door to us, and my dad would drive him to work. On Saturdays, I got to go with them.”

At age eight, Jim’s first job at Auto Truck was stuffing envelopes for $1.25 an hour. When he was a freshman in high school, Jim filled in to handle the payroll while the bookkeeper was on vacation.

“My dad showed me how to do the first one, and then I was to finish the rest,” he chuckles. “I underpaid some of the people. They weren’t happy. But I overpaid others, and they were very happy.”

In his first decade at Auto Truck, Jim learned from the company leaders that growth requires change. First, they recognized they could increase productivity by concentrating on one industry. With that, Auto Truck focused on being a truck equipment company for the railroads. But by 1979, 20 to 30 railroad companies merged into larger companies, and Auto Truck was left with only two or three customers. Again the company leaders embraced change by entering the fleet business.

In 1988, Jim’s dad Gene retired after 54 years of service, and Jim took the lead. During Jim’s career, he has seen Auto Truck Group’s financial contributions grow steadily through each stage of its evolution. It was with a great amount of pride that Jim and the team celebrated $1 million dollars in revenue for the very first time and continued to grow the business to the industry leader that Auto Truck Group is today.

Through it all, the most important and rewarding part of the business for Jim has been the people who he has worked alongside of at Auto Truck. “The Holman family says if you give people the opportunity and the tools to do something, it’s amazing what happens,” Jim states. “My job has been to create jobs and give people opportunities. If that job is done well, we all win.”

Jim has strong confidence that the future is bright for Auto Truck: “With the strength of the Holman organization backing us, no other company in our industry has the talent or the tools of Auto Truck. And now that we have Kargo Master not just producing for ourselves but also for others, we have amazing potential. We are blessed with what is in front of us.”

Jim’s life is surrounded by blessings. He and his wife Jan are in good health, and they have 10 grandchildren between the ages of five and 15—all in the area and all very active.

Congrats on the next chapter of your life.


By Carissa Saia, 31.07.18

4 responses to “Heartfelt Congratulations to Jim”

  1. What a great story and a wonderful picture – congrats to a real class act on an amazing career!

  2. Len Deluca says:

    First, Happy Birthday, and congratulations on your retirement. Enjoy the next phase of life!
    Second, congratulations to the Auto Truck Team on being in business for 100 Years. That is a huge accomplishment! During my time in commercial vehicles it was always a pleasure to do business with you and the Auto Truck Organization! Wishing you much success during the next 100 Years!!

    Len Deluca

  3. Kevin R. Powell says:

    Congratulations Jim on your retirement. ATG has played an important role in our programs under your leadership. Best wishes from the Ford Licensed Accessory Team as you enter the next chapter in your life!

  4. Chanel F. Caron says:

    Hi Jim. It has been a long time that I have worked with you and Auto Truck from when I was at ComEd and now today with the City Of Elmhurst. Auto Truck has come a long way. I wish you the very Best in your retirement. Enjoy your free time with your family. Chanel

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