Following the career path of a truck-driving parent
By Nancy Henderson and Becky Henson
Is it something in the genes that leads to a love of the open road? Or does merely spending time with a trucker make the job so attractive? You start to wonder when you meet so many truckers with a dad or mom who also drive. Whether nature or nurture, parent and child drivers share a bond that lasts a lifetime and brings them closer with each mile logged.
Josh and Ray Haynestock
Ray Haynestock grew up in Iowa, helping out his dad, who was a farmer and truck driver. So it was only natural that he would eventually combine the two. At 21 he got a job hauling livestock, and after about five years he bought his own truck. His son Josh was a big fan.
“I was in a truck from the day I was born, pretty much,” Josh says.
Ray took him out on the road to Pennsylvania when Josh was just 4 years old. “I’ll never forget that first time,” the proud papa says. “He missed his mama, but other than that he watched and learned. He’s been alongside me with the trucks since he was in kindergarten.”
As the years went by, Ray wanted to be home with his family, so he started his own trucking business. He and Josh would hit the road in a truck two weeks of every summer. Josh learned how to drive by the time he was 12, and he spent a good deal of his spare time at his dad’s business.
“He had 15 trucks and a shop, so I was always working down in the shop,” Josh recalls.
“I think he didn’t always like it that his dad made him work when he was a teenager,” Ray says with a chuckle.
He must have liked it well enough. Josh started driving for his dad locally at 18, then bought his own truck at 22.
“I went to college for a year, and that made me know that I wanted to drive a truck,” Josh says. “It’s all I ever wanted to do.”
Ray, meanwhile, decided a few years back that he wanted to get back on the road himself. Both father and son are leased to Long Haul Trucking out of Minnesota.
“The two of us, oh, we probably talk a couple of hours every day,” Ray says. “I’m very fortunate as a dad that we can be that close, and trucking is part of that bond.”
Heather and Sherri Fronko
When Heather Fronko started the second grade, she was the only kid in class who had been to 48 states and Canada. That’s because she rode in a truck since she was 5 weeks old.
Heather’s mom, Sherri Fronko, thought that she would be a pilot when she was younger, but after years riding long hauls with her husband she studied to get her CDL in 1991 instead. When she had Heather, she took her along for the ride. Sherri drove nights and her husband drove days while Sherri home schooled Heather for five hours each day.
“I hate to say it, but I bet that kid saw every mall in the country. But it got tough, and I felt like she needed to be in school to get a good education,” says Sherri. “I don’t regret any of it. I think the road fueled Heather.”
“I had so many fun adventures. We would be in a place where it was snowing one day, then in a day or two we would be in the sun on the beach,” says Heather, now 22 and a driver herself. “I knew when I was 17 I was definitely getting my CDL. I had a friend who said I couldn’t do it, so I had to prove him wrong.”
The mother-daughter duo now drive for the same trucking company in Coldwater, Mich., and are proud members of the Women in Trucking Association. Last summer, they joined Women in Trucking President and CEO Ellen Voie in getting tattoos of the group’s logo on their right shoulders to show their dedication to women in the trucking industry.
“I like the fact that I’m doing something that people don’t regard as a woman’s job, even less back when my mom started,” says Heather. “I like the challenge. When I get discouraged and someone thinks women shouldn’t be out on the road, it pushes me to get out there and prove them wrong.”
Sherri doesn’t take her two younger children out on hauls during the school year these days, but she spends all summer out on the open road and brings them along often. Heather, who is expecting her first child in June, plans to have her baby boy in the truck, along for the ride like she was. As for their next adventure, mom and daughter will be featured in an episode of a Discovery Health show titled I’m Pregnant … and a Truck Driver!
“My true love is the road. I love that Heather is on the road too,” says Sherri. “It’s not about her following in my footsteps. It’s just empowering if you can do something like this and feel comfortable doing it.”