Arkansas Entrepreneurs Cedric and Crystal Smith started JNM Trucking in August 2022, based in Rogers. Their company specializes in short and long-haul hotshot transportation, ensuring quick freight delivery to various locations across the United States.

Cedric Smith has 10 years of commercial truck driving experience. Crystal Smith, as JNM’s dispatcher, handles load bookings and oversees documentation.

“This is something I’ve dreamed about for the past five years,” Cedric Smith said. “I’ve always had the drive and passion to start my own business, and I’ve been blessed with a strong work ethic. Initially, I wanted to get into dump trucking, but that market is oversaturated here in Northwest Arkansas. So, we looked into hotshot trucking, and that’s how JNM was born.”

JNM Trucking
Cedric and Crystal Smith operate JNM Trucking and turned to CU to keep their small business running after encountering issues with an insurance claim

Cedric enjoys the fast-paced environment of their business. They use a Ford F-350 and a 40-foot flatbed trailer, which allows them to access places a semi-truck cannot. The shorter deck also lets them haul taller items, giving them a unique niche in the trucking industry.

Cedric credits their success to the Lord’s provision, especially given the unpredictable nature of the trucking business. He observes that many newcomers fail because they don’t do their research, mistakenly thinking it’s as simple as getting a truck and trailer and starting right away.

The trucking industry is challenging right now, with less-than-ideal rates, but their business has stayed consistent. Cedric is hopeful for improvement, especially in the summer when construction work increases. Over the past year, he has focused on building relationships with clients to ensure repeat business and more hauling opportunities.

However, JNM Trucking faced a setback when Cedric had an incident that bent their trailer, putting them out of commission for over a month. Suddenly, Cedric was stuck. He couldn’t drive anywhere while waiting to hear if the company that bent his trailer would cover the costs. In the end, they didn’t.

Seeking financial assistance for their small business, the Smiths were referred to the Lending Team at Communities Unlimited (CU) by Startup Junkie, a business consulting company in Fayetteville. JNM Trucking worked with CU Director of Lending Michael Rivera and Area Director Debra Williams on a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to buy a new trailer, allowing them to resume freight runs while waiting for their insurance money.

“Communities Unlimited has been a blessing for us. It’s been a life changer for my wife and me. Debra and Michael stepped in and were patient with us. They have truly changed our lives. I would recommend Communities Unlimited to anyone. Michael and Debra gave us an opportunity that no one else would.”

— Cedric Smith, JNM Trucking

CU’s Lending Team strategically blended JNM Trucking with the Entrepreneurship Team. Crystal Smith has met with Area Directors Brian Wells, Dale Rutherford, and Marnell Love for help with accounting, QuickBooks, and various trainings.

“They don’t just give you a loan and then disappear,” Crystal said. “They told us to call anytime if we needed help, and I know that’s true. They’re committed to making it work and support us not just with the loan, but with their other resources too.”

Cedric noted that CU genuinely cares. They want their clients to succeed, which motivates them to do better.

“They are sincere,” Cedric said. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to keep JNM going and to grow our relationship with CU. I want to maintain this relationship for a lifetime.”