Dale Wilson is an expert in handling bumpy roads. As the owner of Dale Wilson Trucking Inc., he’s been involved in his fair share of road projects in central Indiana. But he’s also handled bumpy roads of a different kind.
On Oct. 15, 1999, Wilson was involved in a fiery explosion that left him with third-degree burns over almost half of his body. After 21 days of being in an induced coma, 13 units of blood and three surgeries, Wilson began the long road to recovery.
After recovering, Wilson left his 30-year career as a fuel truck driver after the accident and began his own company from scratch.
One of his major jobs was not an easy one—helping to rebuild Indiana S.R. 46. This 20-mile stretch of two-lane roadway was being completely rebuilt to eliminate the winding curves that only allowed vehicles to traverse at speeds as low as 20 mph around several tight curves.
Wilson’s crew worked day and night shifts six days a week with 25 trucks to haul away 250-300 tons of stone and asphalt per shift. Indiana’s “Jekyll and Hyde” weather certainly didn’t help the process.
“Just like most projects, we had to battle the ever-changing weather patterns of the Midwest,” Wilson said.
With the three-year project complete, Wilson’s hard work helped result in the transformation of a winding, slow, two-lane thoroughfare into a straight super two-lane highway where traffic can now consistently travel at 55 mph between Greensburg and Columbus in Indiana.
“The Indiana 46 project was a tough one,” said Wilson. “But being a key part in completing the project on time feels good. It was the first major project I had with my new business and it helped me realize that all of the hard work that went into starting up my company was beginning to pay off.”
Wilson’s drivers were able to better withstand the long days with comfortable and reliable trucks. All of the trucks in Wilson’s fleet are International PayStar models. Because of the smoother ride and larger cab space, Wilson’s drivers were able to stay more comfortable and more productive.
Wilson, who not only owns the business but also drives trucks himself, spent many of his days on the Indiana 46 project alongside his employees. Because of the sensitivities of his healed skin from the severe burns, he places a higher level of importance on cab comforts. Due to the skin grafts, his body has difficulty regulating temperature so he needs a reliable heating and AC system in the cab to keep his skin at a comfortable temperature. Extreme changes in temperature are painful to his skin. Also, having more space to maneuver in the cab helps keep his skin from rubbing against any work materials that also get stowed in the cab.
Wilson is now working on a number of construction projects in Indiana, including the development of a massive new automotive plant in Greensburg and the expansion of I-70 in Indianapolis. His other big accomplishment as a business owner was being part of the team that repaved the track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the site of the legendary Indy 500.
“We take a lot of pride in our work,” Wilson said. “I’m still proud of how we were able to help complete Indiana 46. Every time I drive down that road I can’t help but smile.”