Dunmorean of the Month: Jim Barrett

By Steve Svetovich

Jim Barrett, 71, has been involved in the trucking business as long as he can remember.

The Dunmore native graduated from Scranton Prep in 1969 and the University of Scranton in 1973.

A couple years later he began working for Fowler and Williams, Scranton, before deciding to venture into his own business.

He and his wife, the former Debra Fowler, formed Road Scholar Transport in 1988. The business is located at 130 Monahan Ave., Dunmore.

Road Scholar Transport has grown into a large asset based carrier serving the Truckload LTL and specialty service needs of businesses in the northeast and mid Atlantic United States.

Over the past 34 years, the business has grown from one owner operator to a fleet of over 105 tractors, 300 trailers and 65 refrigerated units. The technology and methods evolved over the years, but the mission is the same.

“We approach every customer and every customer’s customer with the same dignity, respect and professionalism we would afford our own family. We employ only experienced drivers who are always uniformed, clean-cut and courteous.”

Road Scholar Transport combines its experience and culture with its Northeast and Mid-Atlantic footprints and is always considered to be a local trucking company.

Barrett said he thought of the company’s eventual name while traveling through Philadelphia. “I wanted to put a positive spin on it,” he said. “I came up with the name and called my wife. She agreed to it.”

Barrett and his wife started with very little and gradually built up the business.

“I learned how to drive a truck and I liked it,” Barrett said. “So I decided to start my own business.”

Barrett said the purpose of the company is to provide first class transportation products and creative solutions while delighting the traditional and digital customer.

Road Scholar Transport is a carrier with vast pharmaceutical transportation experience and a complete understanding of the regulations, security protocols and equipment requirements.

Charity work as part of an “Awareness Campaign” is also a part of Road Scholar Transport. “We don’t only deliver freight, but we deliver awareness,” said Barrett.

It all started with the pink tractor trailer.

Barrett was unable to attend a walk with his family to support breast cancer, so he promised them he would do something “big” to make up for it.

A week later, a pink trailer rolled into his business lot. It was the birth of a program to partner with organizations and customers to raise awareness with “rolling billboards” on trucks for dozens of affiliations, groups and causes.

Barrett has a particular fondness for children’s causes. Road Scholar Transport created a truck to promote the Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation. The goal each year is to support as many children and families as possible.

A single awareness trailer on the road receives between 30,000 to 80,000 impressions in a single day, said Barrett.

Road Scholar Transport’s temperature controlled trucks also provide high security shipping, food grade transport, beer and liquor transport, hazmat and chemical transport, storage trailer rental, expedited and emergency shipping, dimensional freight, cross docking, warehousing, and Road Scholar relay.

“We have 170 temperature controlled trailers, 350 van trailers, and run 125 tractors,” said Barrett. “We operate in 12 states.”

There are 55 “decorated” tractors used for the Awareness Campaign.

“We do it to spread awareness to the less fortunate and for different causes, especially for children,” said Barrett.

Barrett and his wife have four children: Mary Beth, 47; Kathie, 44; Bridget, 43; and Matthew, 40. All of the children work in the business.

The couple has eight grandchildren.

“I love what I do,” said Barrett. “It’s a tidal business. There is an incoming tide and an outgoing tide.

“I don’t look at it as work. When things are going well, it’s addictive.”

Jim Simrell Mixed Martial Arts training helps Dunmore football team

By Steve Svetovich

One part of the success of the Dunmore Bucks football team comes from Mixed Martial Arts training.

And that training comes through the volunteer efforts of former standout Scranton Central football player Jimmy “Kru” Simrell.

Simrell, 61, is the head Mixed Martial Arts instructor for the Dunmore Bucks football team.

He owns James Simrell Mixed Martial Arts, 717 Capouse Ave., Scranton. He has owned and operated the business for the past 25 years.

He also holds the titles as one of the head coaches for the Larry Holmes Boxing Teams Easton and Scranton.

Simrell is the Pennsylvania and Connecticut State Represenative for the United States Muay Thai Association and the Pennsylvania State Representative for the All-American SAMBO Federation.

His titles include Second-degree Black Belt in Gracie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Master Marcio Stambowsky, Master of Combat Sambo under the late Master Alex Barakov and Black Kruang and Kru level in the art of Muay Thai from Maisonet’s Muay Thai Training.

Simrell trains former Heavy Weight Champion boxer Larry Holmes’ grandson Jeffrey Dorsey, 29, and Southpaw Light Heavy Weight professional boxer Shakeem Williams. He trains Dorsey with Cliff Ransom, a coach of Larry Holmes.

Simrell provided Mixed Martial Arts training for five months prior to the start of the season for the Dunmore football team.

“I try to help them develop confidence and coordination through Mixed Martial Arts training,” he said. “I help them with grappling, lateral arm movement and drills. I teach them arm drags to help get past an opponent. We cover a lot. They were at my gym every Saturday morning for five months. One of the Dunmore coaches, Mike Galdieri, still comes to my gym. I trained the coaches too.”

Dunmore head football coach Kevin McHale is appreciative of Simrell’s work with the Dunmore players.

“This past season,” McHale said, “many of our players did some Mixed Martial Arts training with Kru Simrell. It was an awesome experience for them. They learned so many skills that help in football. Along with that, Kru Simrell has been a great role model and influence on our student athletes and has continued to follow and support us during the season.”

The Dunmore football players thought so highly of Simrell that he was invited to Senior Night, although he was unable to attend due to an illness.

Simrell also provides Mixed Martial Arts training to younger local athletes. Finn Davis, Luca Falzett and Jack Davis, all three friends, all age 10, who play baseball and basketball as students at Saint Paul’s Elementary School, Green Ridge section of Scranton, train under Simrell. All three youngsters continue to develop additional skills through Simrell’s teaching of Mixed Martial Arts.

“He really knows his stuff and is an interesting guy,” said Donnie Davis, father of Finn Davis. “He’s a very smart guy. I know he helped the Dunmore football team a lot and trains Larry Holmes’ grandson. He’s a great guy to talk to.”

Simrell said he learned to street fight as a youngster. “I was never afraid of a fight,” he said. “I never picked on anybody, but I was always ready. I loved to fight and was not afraid of a fight.”

Simrell said he took up boxing while a student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). “I boxed in Punxsutawney,” he said. “Then I branched out into Mixed Martial Arts.”

Simrell said late Pro Football legend Edgar “Special Delivery” Jones and late IUP athletic director Owen “Onions” Dougherty, a Dunmore native, recruited him to play football at IUP. I played a little football there, got into boxing and later Mixed Martial Arts.”

Simrell said he trained Larry Holmes’ grandson at his compound. “I was at Larry Holmes’ home,” he said. “Larry is a great guy. He has a great sense of humor and is real funny. Elmo Baldasari of Dunmore invited me to lunch with him one day. That’s how I met him.”

Simrell is married to the former Kathleen Van Wie, of Green Ridge. Children are Joshua, 41, Shamus, 14, Paddy, 13, and Posie, 9.

Simrell was the recipient of the Hookey Reap Award for the best defensive lineman in the Big 11 in 1979.