Photo by Duane Tinkey
The day job:
President, Des Moines Area Community College

The hobby:
Truck driving

Attend a parade this summer in a Central Iowa town, and there’s a good chance that you’ll see Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), driving a semitrailer truck with the college’s logo.

Denson has driven his trucks in hundreds of parades, both as president at DMACC and as president of Northeast Iowa Community College.

As a young man, Denson, a “farm kid,” helped pay for college by driving a semi to haul things such as feed, hogs, seed corn and soybeans for a farm in Homestead, Iowa.

“I will tell you that once you get semi driving in your blood, it’s in your blood,” Denson said.

DMACC has a deal with Freightliner of Des Moines Inc., which sells the college a new truck for Denson’s use in the spring and summer each year. Denson drives the truck in parades to promote the college, and then sells it back to the company in October.

Denson said he typically drives in two parades per Saturday during the summer, all around Central Iowa. He’s also driven the truck to national FFA conventions.

DMACC’s Transportation Institute has a truck driver training program, but Denson is generally the only one allowed to drive the new rig each year.

“It is a beauty,” Denson says. “It’s as nice a tractor as there is on the road.”

See all executives featured in 2013 Photo Issue