Robert Jordan, Overdrive magazine’s 2006 Trucker of the Year, was one of 20 entrepreneurs in the semifinals of Forbes.com’s first Boost Your Business contest, but the online vote, which decides the five finalists, did not fare in Jordan’s favor. The grand prize is $100,000 for the winning entrepreneur to invest in his or her business. Jordan, of Juneau, Wis., was one of nearly 1,000 people to enter the contest.
Jordan has built his business, Idle Free Systems, around a patent he owns. Jordan’s invention is an aftermarket device that makes a Class 8 tractor run somewhat like a hybrid. Energy generated by normal engine use is stored in five sealed, absorbed glass mat batteries, housed beneath the sleeper’s bunk. That reserve power then runs heating and air conditioning when the truck is stopped. The reserve batteries also can be charged by shore power and by reefer engines.
Jordan, who quit driving in December 2006 to work on Idle Free Systems full time, builds systems for trucking companies and trains their mechanics to install and maintain them. Mack Trucks offers Jordan’s system as an option, and Chiquita Brands Inc. is testing the product, says Jordan, who now offers a new hybrid system.