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- Owner-operator Fritz Elmhorst puts his competitiveness to good use
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Singing the praises of truckers who deliver day after day
You might think that the work you do is taken for granted. But the people you come in contact with really do notice and appreciate your efforts. When Road King asked people in various areas to give a shoutout to a driver they had regular contact with, the hoorays came pouring in.
Shoutout to: George Parker, owner-operator
From: Wendy Parker, wife-passenger
Before I got in the truck with George, I thought pretty much what everyone else thinks about truckers — that he just drove from place to place. But that’s not even a tenth of what he does. He spends a lot of time trying to make other people happy. There’s the customer service people, shippers and receivers. He has to figure his fuel, his mileage and his time. He spends so much time dealing with people who don’t understand what he’s doing. It’s a really stressful job.
George is an excellent driver. People dart in and out of traffic and he can keep it together. He’s one of the safest truckers out there. He cares about the others on the road.
But he’s best at dealing with people. On one run, we picked up a load in Maryland going to New York. He set his time and almost as soon as he started driving, the customer service people started calling and yelling, asking how come he wasn’t there yet. Instead of getting mad, he laughed and made a joke. He took the time to explain when he was able to pick up the load, referred her to his logs and pointed out that he had made just one short stop.
He takes it all in stride. He gets personal satisfaction out of doing his job well, whether or not anyone notices that or recognizes that. I think that’s amazing. I’m impressed in every way, and I’ve known this guy for almost 20 years.
Shoutout to: Willie Askew, Schneider National
From: Jenny McDowell, military recruiting manager for Schneider National
I’ve known Willie for quite a few years. I started as his driver leader. Now I manage our Ride of Pride program, a group of military-themed trucks that serve as rolling tributes to those who have served. Willie is in the intermodal division and runs in our 2008 Ride of Pride truck because of the professionalism that he shows each and every day and the fact that he is a military veteran.
He retired from the army as a staff sergeant from the infantry. He has that work ethic, very driven and mission- oriented. I don’t think there has been a day that he’s called in sick — even in a bad snowstorm, Willie shows up.
He is also a born leader. He’s always coaching the younger drivers, teaching them the safe way of doing the job day to day, and how to make sure customers are happy.
When his son, Willie Jr., decided that he wanted to get into the business, Willie had a local job, Monday through Friday. He was home every night. But he gave up that position for a year to run team with his son, over the road, so that he could train him in the right way to be a driver. He did it not only to be sure that his son was safe on the road, but to be sure that the motoring public was also safe.
He’s just a pleasure to work with, and I feel privileged to work with him directly.
Shoutout to: John Southall, Arpin Van Lines
From: David Vieira, Senior Vice President of Operations for Arpin Group Inc.
John Southall is one of the most consistent drivers I know. It doesn’t matter what size the move is, or what line of business. He only knows one way to conduct business, and that’s to do everything to the best of his ability. His character shows through to every customer, because he cares.
He consistently gets perfect scores on customer surveys, and his attitude shows through on those, but it also shows through on his claims ratio, which is really nil. As much furniture as he touches, and he touches quite a bit as he packs, loads and hauls some big jobs, he’s not breaking anything. If I move a chair from one side of my house to another I usually break something, so his numbers are really amazing.
To be a good driver today, you really have to be everything rolled into one. You have to be able to handle the transfers, to lift and move heavy things, and be good at paperwork. It’s a lot wrapped up into one position, and John pretty much represents the best of all of it.
Shoutout to: Frank Reavis, owner-operator
From: Mike Willis, East Coast Sales Manager, Rudolph Foods
We’ve been working with Frank for a little more than three years. He handles a load for one of our biggest co-pack customers in the Northeast. He is here about once a week and is just an outstanding person. He goes out of his way to interact with the people in our shipping department when he comes to pick up a load — even bringing in doughnuts for everyone. He knows everybody by name and makes a point of coming to the front office when he’s getting his paperwork so he can check in with our shipping manager, Lena Brown. He asks her regularly if everything is good with the service he’s providing, and if there is anything he needs to know about.
He’s always here on time and he always gets the load delivered on time — he’s super professional when he delivers a load, and that’s important to us because he is a representative of Rudolph Foods.
Shoutout to: Carol Gibson, Kemira Logistics
From: Sandy Long, Weston Transportation
Carol amazes me and I strive to be more like her in some ways. She has multiple sclerosis — thankfully it does not affect her ability and she is still qualified to drive. She pulls a chemical tanker and has to wear full protective gear, even in the summer heat. Her mother has Alzheimer’s disease and was living with Carol until recently. That kind of stress would get to anyone, but Carol remains cheerful.
It’s amazing the drive that she has to keep trucking. She started driving in 1973, when there weren’t many women drivers. She went to work for a team company when she was 21, and she had to deal with truckers’ wives who didn’t like the idea of this 21-year-old girl teaming with their husbands. One wife actually chased her around the plant. She stuck it out. Her strength of character, her positive attitude and her stubbornness got her through. She says that she loves driving and she’s not ready to quit yet. She was just diagnosed with cancer, and her first question to me when I visited her was, “Can I still drive while getting radiation and chemotherapy?” You just have to admire her spirit.
Shoutout to: Sandy Long, Weston Transportation
From: Linda Remmick, rookie driver
If it weren’t for Sandy, I don’t know that I would still be in the trucking business. I’ve only been driving since December 2011, so I’m quite new and fresh at everything. I was having a hard time getting the training I needed at my last company, so I called the Women in Trucking Association, and they gave me Sandy’s number. I called her and let her know the problems I was having and ever since then, we’ve kept in contact at least once a week. She’s been a great encouragement to me, telling me to be patient and keep with it.
In addition, she has taught me a great deal about the dangers on the road and how I can keep myself safe so I can be of help to others. She answers my dumb questions and gives me insight on the trucking industry.
Thanks to Sandy, I feel mentoring is something I need to do now. If I can help another driver who has the same love for being out on the road as I do, then I definitely will. If I had the money, I’d start a school for truckers and have Sandy run it!
Shoutout to: Greg Martin, Riechmann Transport Inc.
From: Marcia Campbell, host of The WSM All-Nighter with Marcia Campbell
I met Greg Martin when I was hosting the Trucker Talent Spotlight radio show on SiriusXM. Greg is a second-generation truck driver with a knack for music, technology and recording programs. He would call in for me to play his music, but he would also offer advice to listeners who wanted to record themselves, giving tips and instructions on programs they could use in the cab of their truck while out on the road.
The show became one big forum for encouragement and help. He became an unofficial co-host for technology and recording. Listeners would call in with questions specifically for Greg, hoping that he was listening. He has helped the likes of David Paul Nowlin, Dale Adams, Ralph Butler, Bob Longmeir, Rodney Bays, Travis McCoy of Ten Down band and Ron Terry record albums. I’m hoping these drivers will pass along that information and help other drivers who are interested in music.
Shoutout to: David and Jill Studney, Covenant Transportation
From: Lenae Herman, kindergarten teacher
David and Jill Studney were my Trucker Buddy International partners for the 2011-2012 school year. Trucker Buddy is a program that unites over-the-road truckers with a classroom to enhance the curriculum for students. I’ve worked with four Trucker Buddies over the years, but David and Jill were my first husband-and-wife team. They were an absolute joy to work with.
David, Jill and their dog, Riggs, sent my kindergarten class pictures and postcards from every state they visited, with facts about the state and its climate. They took the time to write letters and emails to each one of my students, willing to answer any and all questions they had. Every day, my students would beg me to check the mail to see what Jill and David sent us. It became a catalyst for them to want to learn to read and write. It also helped them learn states and their capitals, as we would map out every place Jill and David visited.
At the end of the school year, I planned a welcome party for Jill, David and Riggs. There was an instant bond as they met the children they had been in contact with all year. They were so approachable for the students and allowed each one the opportunity to tour their truck, sit in the driver’s seat and honk the horn. I truly appreciate them for their commitment to education and I am excited to work with them next year!