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Owner-operator Scott Kinley wore shorts and flip-flops before his buddy, and fellow driver, Henry Albert gave him the challenge to start cleaning up and wearing a nice shirt and tie while he is driving. The difference for Kinley was almost instantaneous.
Everywhere I go,” he says. “I’ve never been called sir so much in my life. “
Kinley, who is leased to Landstar, wears his tie all the time now, and doesn’t leave his truck without it. He even says it’s who he’s become. Customers who once saw him in his flip-flops now tell him how nice it is to see a professional driving a truck. For Kinley, the clothes are a way of showing respect to the customer and the job.
“You’re taken that you know what you’re doing. It changes the conversation with customers. You’re asked more detailed questions about the industry,” says Kinley. “We get the attitude that we’re just truck drivers and we don’t get treated professionally. It’s partly because of our appearance.“
Albert began dressing better for the job after he visited a truck museum and saw that drivers used to make almost as much as doctors and lawyers, and wore a nice uniform. He quickly discovered that he got more opportunities from wearing a tie, than he did in his old driving outfits.
“I put the best face on that I can. The shipper chose me to deliver their product. I look at myself as representing what they thought about their customer by who they sent to deliver that load, I act accordingly,” says Albert. “At the end of the day, it’s really just a door-opener. Managers and owners come and talk to me now because I look like a professional, not like I just came out from under the truck.“
Linda and Bob Caffee, who drive for FedEx, joined Albert and Kinley in dressing to impress.
“We deliver to a lot of military bases,” says Linda. “It’s amazing how many officers come over and shake Bob’s hand and say, ‘Thank you for what you are doing, I appreciate it.’”
The Truckers in Ties have a challenge for other drivers. During National Truck Driver Appreciation Week in September, take a chance on the tie, or uniform as they call it, and see the difference.
“Truck shows always have the eyes on the truck polish, but what about the drivers?” says Albert.