Jarrett Joyce never thought he would be on television. “I’m the guy that ran from the home movie camera,” he says. “Not in a million years did I think I would be on TV. I always knew I would be an entrepreneur and I knew I wanted to work for myself.”
Joyce, a 2000 graduate of NC State, is working for himself. But his work is being televised — Joyce is one of the shippers on A&E’s “Shipping Wars,” a reality television show that follows shippers like Joyce as they carry unusual freight around the country. The shows air on Sundays.
“Being on the show for me was really scary to begin with because everything is filmed, all of your worst moments are being put on TV,” Joyce says. “But, you kind of realize that your worst moments make good TV.”
Joyce, who majored in agricultural business at NC State, sold concrete and asphalt until he lost his job in December 2010. In February 2011, he decided to try the shipping business.
His journey with “Shipping Wars” began with a visit to a website, www.uship.com, to bid on potential shipping jobs. The show looks through shipper profiles on the site to pick out potential personalities for upcoming seasons. That’s how they found Joyce.
“I actually thought it was a joke,” he says. “I figured it was one of my friends, so I gave the guy a hard time and he said, ‘No, I am for real.’ It was really unbelievable.”
Two years later, Joyce is still considered the new guy of the show and spends weeks on the road for filming and shipping. “Last year, the whole filming season was March to October,” he says. “They try to plan it two weeks on the road and a couple of days home.”
But the shipping business is year-round and the cargo comes first to Joyce. The time spent out on the road when “Shipping Wars” isn’t filming can add up – and Joyce has had some long runs. “I was on the road for 40 straight days once,” he says. “When I took time off in January for myself, I shipped a printing press from San Diego to Connecticut.”
Joyce doesn’t often get to interact with the other shippers on the show except for when they get together in Texas to film interview segments. “Every character is exactly like they are on the show,” he says. “We all get along, but it’s a professional relationship.”
As with any show, viewers have opinions about the shippers. And their opinions are not always positive. “I don’t really pay attention to the negativity,” Joyce says. “There’s always going to be people who disagree or put something down. I just see it as a light-hearted, fun reality show, no need to worry.”
Joyce’s last two seasons have included a few wild rides. “The very first thing I ever shipped for the show was the entire set of the play of Little Shop of Horrors,” he says. “The biggest piece was the giant plant Audrey II, and it barely fit in the trailer. I took it from New Jersey to San Diego.”
The next season’s shipments got even crazier. “I did a giant lumberjack statue,” he says. “It wouldn’t fit in my trailer, it was supposed to. The show makes it look like I measured wrong. I had to put it on a flatbed trailer.”
This created more problems, however. “I didn’t even consider that the base was like a giant parachute or sail. It caught the wind and the wind resistance would not let my van go very fast at all,” he says. “It was basically like a parachute behind my van.”
In the summer of 2012, Joyce shipped a custom casket, designed to look like a car. “This guy had just ordered a custom casket from a place in Kansas,” he says. The place “had anything you could possibly imagine. He bought the casket and wasn’t completely satisfied with it. He sent it back to the manufacturer. He wanted to change the interior, the pillow lining.”
Joyce has other forms of income besides the shipping business. “I still live in Winston-Salem,” he says. “I’ve got a courier business in Greensboro that I run every single day. I’ve got guys to work for me while I’m gone.”
Joyce also helps his family sell Christmas trees in the winter. Joyce says he has always been interested in a little bit of everything. Because of that, he is open to different possibilities once his run on the show is over.
“The show is kind of at a point where we’ve got plenty of viewers,” he says. “I would really love to stay with this either on camera or behind the camera … I’m just sort of blowing in the wind right now seeing where this is all going to take me.”
— Molly Green