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Royal Jones? success, community support honored with NMSU honorary degree

Las Cruces entrepreneur, philanthropist and mentor Royal Jones is being honored by New Mexico State University, receiving an honorary doctorate degree during the 2015 spring commencement on May 9.

Royal Jones, co-owner of Mesilla Valley Transportation, will receive an honorary doctorate degree during New Mexico State University?s spring commencement on Saturday, May 9. As an entrepreneur Jones has led his company from a two-truck operation to now having 1,400 trucks and 2,500 employees. He is also being recognized for his service to his community and the Las Cruces area as a philanthropist and mentor. (NMSU photo by Jane Moorman)

Jones has built a corporation on the foundation of hard work, commitment to his word and treating others as he would like to be treated.

?I don?t know what gives me my drive,? said the co-owner of Mesilla Valley Transportation. ?It?s an inner drive that I just don?t ever want to stop.?

That drive has taken him from being an owner/operator semi-truck driver at age 19 to creating Mesilla Valley Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the Southwest, which has 1,400 trucks and 2,500 employees, and is a national leader in environmentally friendly performance.

?When I told my Dad I wanted to be a trucker, he tried to discourage me,? Jones said of his father, Royal, Sr, who owned a hardware store, lumberyard and ready-mix concrete plant in Anthony, Texas. ?But I told him I had a plan.?

After driving his truck for 27 years, Jones bought a second truck and began Mesilla Valley Transportation with his friend, Jimmy Ray.

?Jimmy and I have been partners since the day we started racing cars,? Jones said. ?He?s a great mechanic, and I like to drive.?

To this day, you can find them at Southern New Mexico Speedway in Las Cruces and the El Paso Speedway, racing car #131 in the renegade sprint and USRA modified division races, and promoting the two speedways, which they co-own.

That partnership that began with racing has grown into today?s MVT which includes 14 companies. But the road to their success was not easy, nor did it happen overnight.

?Our first two trucks blew up in the same week,? Jones said. ?I thought my dream of having more than one truck was out the window.?

Jones came up with a plan by mastering the problems. He discovered the way to have the company survive and thrive was to improve his trucks? fuel-efficiency.

The industry-innovative practices Jones has implemented at MVT earned the company recognition in 2014, when it received the Environmental Protection Agency?s Smart Way Excellence Award. It was one of 44 national carriers to receive the distinction, representing the best environmental performers of Smart Way?s nearly 3,000 partners.

?We?re all about being green,? he said. ?By using 20 percent biodiesel from our subsidiary, Global Alternative Fuels, we have reduced our carbon footprint by 54,000 tons annually.?

Today, the company?s trucks travel throughout the United States, with terminals in El Paso; Nashville, Tennessee; Laredo, Texas; and Portland, Oregon.

At the root of Jones? success is his commitment to people. He believes in developing his employees by providing educational and promotion opportunities. Many of his employees began in entry-level jobs and are now department managers.

He is also passionate about the safety of his drivers and those who share the road. As such, MVT uses pay incentives for safe driving records and fuel-efficiency, which isn?t always the standard in the trucking industry. The top drivers are averaging as much as 10.8 miles per gallon compared to industrial average of 4 to 6 mpg.

Jones is passionate about giving back to his community. He has served as a guest speaker and mentor for the Chamber of Commerce?s Las Cruces Young Professionals and is an active member of the Borderplex Alliance, which focuses on regional economic development.

The entrepreneur has an inspirational, but realistic, approach when visiting with NMSU students, aspiring entrepreneurs and young professionals that resonates and motivates.

He frequently visits the NMSU football team during their practices. As a former high school athlete and a competitive racecar driver, Jones is passionate about supporting students on and off the field.

In 2014, he provided a substantial gift to NMSU to renovate the Coca-Cola Weight Training Center. The gift was transformational for Aggie Athletics, outfitting the facility with state-of-the art equipment, technology and a nutrition station that is one of the best in the country. Having this facility improves the strength and conditioning of every athlete on NMSU?s 17 teams and helps minimize their injuries.