PI&I Motor Express – 4 Generations of Family Ownership

Steve Pollock
April 2022

MASURY, OHIO… For over 70 years, PI&I Motor Express has been family owned and operated.  Under the stewardship of the Kerola family, the company has grown to be one of the largest family owned flatbed carriers in the USA.  PI&I was founded in 1951 by Joseph J. Kerola, who started as a driver and then a freight agent for Daniels Motor Freight.  In October of 1951. Sharon Steel supported Joseph Kerola as he obtained operating authority to haul their steel.  The caveat was that the company, then based in Sharon, Pennsylvania, couldn’t load or deliver in the state of Ohio under their newly granted authority unless they trip leased a load under another carrier’s authority.  Kerola named his newly formed company PI&I (Pennsylvania, Indiana and Illinois) Motor Express and the name has remained the same to this day.

By 1960 PI&I was granted operating authority for the state of Ohio and made a move in 1962 to their current location in Masury, Ohio, just across the state line from Sharon, Pennsylvania.  Joseph Kerola ran the company until 1965, when his son John J. Kerola, who worked with his father since the beginning, took over operations and ownership.  John ran the company until his death in 1996 and established PI&I as one of the area’s largest flatbed carriers.  Joseph J. Kerola (Joe) became owner in 1996 and has served as President of the company  ever since.  Today, all of Joe’s children: Maggie, Joe Jr., Jeremy, and Jake all work at PI&I Motor Express.  Jake enjoyed driving truck so much that he became a Professional Truck Driver for PI&I.  The 5th generation of the Kerola family: Vivian, Huxley, and Josephine are waiting in the wings but will have a few more years to go before joining the company.

Under Joe Kerola’s leadership, PI&I began a period of growth which was built the company into one of the nation’s largest family owned flatbed carriers. In 1997, PI&I acquired Bob’s Truck Service in Middletown, Ohio.  In 2003, the company purchased Wier Cove, in Weirton, West Virginia, Team Transport of Warrendale, Pennsylvania in 2005, and in 2008, Canadian Carrier Transport Sales from Caledonia, Ontario. 

Through acquisitions and controlled growth, the PI&I Motor Express fleet has grown to over 500 power units and has operating authority for all 48 states and Canada.  PI&I’s success has been fueled by good management and taking care of their drivers.  Their mission statement “More Freight, More Money – We’ll Keep You Moving,” and a network of 19 terminals and agents provides the reason why so many drivers like working for the company.  PI&I also has programs in place that appeal to all types of drivers and their particular needs.  Local, Regional and OTR freight is available at all times.  Local drivers get home every night, Regional drivers are home every weekend and once or twice during the week, and OTR drivers get home weekends or can stay out for as long as they like.

PI&I welcomes recent driving school graduates and offers them a $6,000 tuition reimbursement.  The company pays for experience – Flatbed drivers with 3 years or more of experience receive a $6,000 sign on bonus.  PI&I is devoted to helping our country’s Veterans transition to civilian life, with a job driving truck waiting for them.  Veterans deployed in time of war receive hiring priority over all other PI&I applicants.  PI&I also assists active duty military and reservists in obtaining their CDL so they will have a job waiting when their enlistment ends. The company was awarded the Patriotic Employer Award from the Reserve Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Company drivers at PI&I enjoy a guaranteed weekly minimum wage, along with the ability to run and earn more, and a comprehensive benefit package.  The 200 Independent Contractors in the PI&I fleet are paid 78% of the gross on every load, every day with no hold backs.  Contractors also receive every penny of the fuel surcharge.    If you are a company driver who would like to become an Independent Contractor, PI&I has a lease purchase program to help you achieve your dream.

PI&I Motor Express operates late model Kenworth and Freightliner tractors and will be receiving 20 new Cascadias very soon.  Traditionally the company has been a 100% flatbed carrier, but has recently diversified to haul aluminum scrap and finished aluminum logs in custom built side loading aluminum dump trailers.  Currently ten drivers are running the aluminum trailers and the company plans to expand this part of their business model.

If you would like to be a part of PI&I Motor Express’s next 70 years, give them a call at 800-321-2733.


PI&I Motor Express President Joe Kerola with PI&I’s YSU truck, which hauls the football equipment for Youngtown State University.  Joe was honored as YSU’s 2022 Penguin of the Year.

The first 3 generations of PI&I Motor Express’s owners:  Joseph Kerola, Founder; John Kerola, Former President, and Joe Kerola, Current President.

The 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations of the Kerola family.

PI&I’s Veterans Truck.

Custom built side loading aluminum dump trailers are the newest addition to the PI&I fleet.