Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category

July 14th, 2013

On the third day of their weeklong trip, Bert Johnson, Con-way Truckload’s Vice President of Human Resources, and Frank Merrill, Professional Driver for Truckload journey from the Midwest to the Southeast on their way to Dale City, Fla.

June 11, 2013

Got up with the rooster … got dressed … went in and brushed my teeth … got some coffee … We have to hurry to maximize our 11 hours today if we are going to get to Dale City, Fla. by 1 p.m. tomorrow. Frank completes his pre-trip and we are ready to go. At 7:43 a.m. we start to pull through the parking lot and all of a sudden a tractor backs out in front of us … good thing we were going very slowly or we would have had an accident. I noticed that we haven’t received a lot of messages.

Yesterday we forgot that we were in the Eastern time zone … today we cross back to Central and then back to Eastern. We have to be careful today if we get high wind … only 10,000 pounds in the trailer. This road is the worst I have been on since we left Joplin, Mo. Driving through beautiful Louisville, Ky., a car decides to cut across three lanes in front of us while texting … she gets the prize for the day. Just saw a PFG truck come within 10 feet of a Jim Palmer truck … crazy. I have learned that no matter how hard you try as a driver, it is almost impossible to create that safe zone around your truck … drivers of both trucks and four-wheelers are constantly entering that zone. Our drivers are always on guard for the unexpected and are prepared to do whatever they have to do to be safe. Proactive vs. Reactive.

Stopped at Flying J #661 in Franklin, Ky. at Exit 1041 … got fuel, cleaned the bugs off of the windshield and took my first ever shower at a truck stop … and it was a good shower … especially since it was our third day on the road … we needed it … Frank caught me getting into the truck without using the three point system … had to walk the truck. We took one hour and seven minutes … not bad to get all of that done. Now we are back on the road. Frank often gets calls from his previous students asking for his advice … it’s the mark of a good finisher. Frank lets the equipment do its thing … cruise control, engine brake which helps keep a steady pace … he takes control much like a pilot takes control of the autopilot, when the need arises. Coming into Nashville, Tenn. Just went up Monteagle Pass … can’t wait to go down. On the down side … few trucks going down faster than 45 mpg … very dangerous (white knuckle time for me). Boyd Bros flat bed … smoking brakes. We descended without even using our brakes … Great job Frank!

Just went through Nickajack Lake at the bottom of the Lower Tennessee Valley. Made it to Chattanooga. Finally arriving in Atlanta during rush hour … traffic is fun … hopefully we can get through without delay. We are finally on Interstate 75. Took us about two hours to get from the north side to the south side of Atlanta. Traffic was incredible. It is amazing the amount of people that were texting while driving in rush hour traffic. Now it’s the choice of where to stop to find parking for the night and at the same time allow for enough time to get our 10 in and deliver by 1 p.m. tomorrow. We ended at the Pilot in Byron, Ga. We stopped driving at 7:08 p.m. Just had wonderful dinner at Arby’s … now back to the truck and getting ready for a nice cool evening.

Need to be up at 5:30 a.m. or when the rooster crows. We ran 576 miles today in nine hours and 46 minutes.

July 5th, 2013

Today’s journal entry by Bert Johnson, Con-way Truckload’s vice president of human resources, is from Day One of his weeklong journey with Truckload driver Frank Merrill. In this entry, Bert puts in some miles and gets a taste of what life on the on the road is like for a professional truck driver.

June 9, 2013

Met Frank at 10:45 a.m. at the Joplin, Mo. local. Off loaded my personal gear. Did a pre-trip … saw previous trailer damage and some tire issues, but not enough to warrant taking it to the shop. We then went to local to get our trip assignment. Got off the yard about 11:55 a.m. We took off on Interstate 44 going east. Stopped at Dottie’s in Cuba, Mo. … great buffet … had an awesome coconut cream pie and coffee compliments of the chef. Ate too much (now I see why it is hard to eat properly on the road — especially this being my first day).

Back in the truck after our break and on the road again. Had to take student pre-test … managed to get 100 percent after some help from Frank. Not much happening on the road until before St. Louis with a traffic back-up … car accident in right hand lane … lots of funny chatter on the CB … back to full speed again … and here we go again with another traffic delay … another accident in the two right hand lanes … almost cleaned up. Went through downtown St. Louis to cut time off our trip. We were hoping to get to the consignee by end of available hours.

Smooth sailing … storm clouds up ahead … hopefully will not hit. Unfortunately, 30 miles west of Terre Haute, Ind., we started to hit rain. Rain started to get heavier. We slowed down, but several trucks came flying by. Now rain so heavy that we can’t see … hazard flashers on. Frank decided that it was not safe to continue to drive through the storm, and we had to shut down for the night at Exit 41 in Cloverdale, Ind. We had hoped to make it to consignee by the end of our hours. We still could have driven another two hours plus, but couldn’t safely. We arrived at Cloverdale … Frank pulled between two other units … tight squeeze … he is good. Shut the truck off … did our end of day stuff and sent messages.

Frank called ops and made them aware that we would be late to the customer. Spoke to Tammy, didn’t wait long, about eight minutes on hold before speaking with her. Truck next to us idling. Went into the truck stop to use the restroom. It continued to rain hard … got back to the truck … climbed into the bunk, changed, got my earplugs out … good thing. The idling truck next to us idled all night … very loud. It was my first night sleeping in a truck. It is warm in the truck, but cooled off sometime during the night. It is now almost 11 p.m. Long day. Needless to say, I couldn’t exercise today. We ran 483 miles and didn’t see any customers. We drove eight hours and 11 minutes.

June 28th, 2013

In mid-June, Bert Johnson, Con-way Truckload’s vice president of human resources, spent a week riding with Frank Merrill, one of Truckload’s professional drivers. Bert sent in daily journal entries detailing each day of his 3,400-mile trek with Frank. Over the next few weeks, we will be reprinting Bert’s submissions about his experiences. We begin today with Bert’s overview of his trip in his own words.

June 8, 2013

As you may or may not know, I took a weeklong truck trip with Frank Merrill, one of our professional drivers who is also a finisher. I have been in trucking for the past 15 years, but have not experienced anything like I did that week.

I got on Frank’s truck at 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 9 in Joplin and returned at 5p.m. on Saturday, June 15. After nearly 3,400 miles, I was ready to get home. I won’t take for granted the simple things in life … going to the restroom when I need to, taking a shower daily, eating, sleeping or just driving. Most of us don’t give these self-sustaining life activities a second thought. If we were told that we were only going to eat once today, go to the bathroom twice a day, take a shower every second or third day, sleep when our job was done, be awakened by someone knocking at your door in the middle of the night, making doctor’s appointments at home, but then told that you will have to change your appointment because we have more work for you to do, and the list goes on we wouldn’t work here … and that’s just the lifestyle.

Now let’s take a look at the job itself. Drivers are dispatched to pick up a load, most likely someplace they haven’t been before and then come to find out, they have to be a magician to get into the loading dock … barely enough room for a straight truck with a pup, but somehow they pull it off. Next, they get to wait potentially several hours while being loaded (and their 14-hour clock ticking away). Finally after being loaded, they get the opportunity to drive, which is a much different experience than driving a car. Buses, trucks, automobiles, etc. are like missiles trying to destroy their truck by cutting them off, suddenly braking, etc., while they continually conduct evasive maneuvers to limit their exposure. They have to be on high alert at all times. Finally they arrive at their destination only to find another difficult backing situation to overcome before unloading. After several hours they are finally unloaded. Before moving on, they must complete their paperwork, send their Qualcomm forms and then hopefully they can go … either to another customer or truck stop with enough hours left to drive and safely park … eat, shower, fuel and finally sleep (if they can).

What I described above is a typical day for our professional drivers. Driving a truck is a lifestyle and is not for everyone. While we have many experienced long-term drivers we also have many new drivers coming straight out of school to join us, who probably have no clue as to this lifestyle. As non-drivers, we must do everything we can to support each and every driver day in and day out. If it was not for these brave men and women, we would not have the opportunity to work for such a great company.

On this trip, I took the opportunity to journal each day. I took notes each day detailing my experiences beginning on Sunday, my first day out. I encourage as many of you as possible to take a truck trip … it will be an eye-opener.