( Photo courtesy John J. Jerue Truck Broker Inc.; graphic by Amelia Freidline )

John J. Jerue, who founded a logistics company that bears his name, died July 25, at his home in Auburndale, Fla., just days before his 95th birthday.

He started early in the industry, driving a 10-wheeler at age 16, leaving trucking for three years to serve as a pilot in World War II, according to a release from John J. Jerue Truck Broker Inc., Lakeland, Fla.

He returned to trucking after the war, which led him to Florida. He opened his brokerage in 1957, working from the Pompano State Farmers Market for years, according to his obituary. Jerue founded the Pompano Truck Terminal in 1962, and sold it in 1969.

He later became a pioneer in Florida’s export shipping business, as the inland transportation provider for exporting citrus to Asia when the state first sent grapefruit to Japan, according to the release.

Jerue formed Westwind Transportation in 1977, shipping for Maersk Shipping Lines and Evergreen Shipping Lines, according to the obituary.

“His vision saw this effort grow to large containerized shipments, and by 1997 Jerue had a fleet of more than 50 trucks and 230 trailers annually shipping 6.5 million boxes of citrus,” according to the company’s release.

He sold Westwind Transportation in 1997, according to the obituary.

Jerue and his son Jeff formed John J. Jerue Truck Broker Inc. in 1986. The company now has 36 offices across the U.S. and Canada. Subsidiaries and affiliate companies include Jerue Cos., Diel-Jerue, Diel-Jerue Logistics, General Transystems, General Transystems Global, JBT-Jerue Logistics Group, Jerue Freight Services, Fusion Logistics Services, Tampa Bay Logistics and Jerue Logistics Solutions.

A fire destroyed the company’s office in 2005 in Bartow, but Jerue quickly relocated to the current location in Lakeland, according to the obituary. He also survived an alligator attack in 2012, in which his dog Merlot lost a leg.

Jerue continued working into his 94th year.