Rick Ash is an owner operator with more than 3 million accident-free miles to his name. In the 29 years he’s had a CDL trucking job, he’s never been late picking up or delivering a load.
Being on time is part of the sharp image he strives to maintain every day on the job. It’s also why he makes a point to dress in a crisp button-down shirt, slacks and a tie every day.
“Polished shoes are part of it, too,” he says. ”I keep shoe polish and a shoe brush in the truck at all times.”
Ash made the change in wardrobe six years ago, and he hasn’t looked back.
A combination of things prompted him to dress for success initially. “People I know were already doing it and had mentioned how much better they were treated,” Ash says.
“I’ve always been someone who’s been concerned and aware of the image of the truck driver,” he continues. “We play a most vital part in the ability of the average American to be able to live their life the way they want to. All necessities come by truck, and I think we’re looked at not always positively because of the way we’re portrayed in the media.”
Ash started to see that dressing professionally could be an important yet simple way to counteract all that negativity.
He does often notice a difference in the way people treat him when he’s looking sharp.
“When I’m making a delivery, they tend to think I’m a salesperson,” he says. “Other drivers, too, I probably get more reaction from them than anything else. They ask, ‘Why are you all dressed up?’ My reply is usually ‘Why not?’ It’s good because it starts a discussion.”
Cynthia Ward, a company driver for Knight Refrigerated, knows the discussion, too. She’s been dressing up ever since she began trucking two years ago, and she loves every minute of it.
Adding something extra
“I get told all the time ‘You don’t look like a truck driver,’” she says. “I ask them what a truck driver is supposed to look like. They say, ‘They wear flip-flops and you can smell them from a mile away.’ And I say, ‘Well, my CDL says I’m a truck driver, so I guess not all truck drivers look like that.”
Ward prides herself on adding a little extra flair to her appearance every day. That includes hair, makeup, nails and wardrobe. If it seems like a lot of effort to go to when she may not see many people in a day, Ward has a strong rebuttal.
“I’m representing the company,” she says. “It doesn’t matter if I never get out of out of the truck. Nobody wants to see a slob driving down the road. And when I take a few minutes to present myself, there’s a little pep in my step and I feel better about myself.”
Both Ash and Ward take a lot of pride in their work and their appearance.
That pride carries them through the day. Ash runs the health pavilion at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas (follow him at OnRamptoHealth.org), and he has received several awards during his career. The way he dresses makes him feel all the more positive about being a truck driver.
“There are a lot of things that go into having a positive image,” he says. “It’s the way you look, the way you conduct yourself, thanking people for their hard work. And it’s not just at the shippers and receivers. I’m somebody who wants to present a positive image wherever I am.”
Wardrobe on wheels
Ward, who has converted her top bunk into a wardrobe, notes that people she encounters through her trucking job treat her with respect when she’s dressed up. She says it’s no coincidence.
“People treat you like you present yourself,” she says. “If nobody sees me all day, I see me. I want to take pride in myself. When you dress up, you feel better all day long. You walk with a straighter step because you know you look good.”
It’s not expensive either, Ash adds. He buys all his shirts, slacks and ties at discount stores and is still able to look the part. “I go to JCPenney and get a button-down for 20 bucks,” he says. “I pay $9.99 for my ties at Walmart, so I’m not spending an arm and a leg. I would recommend dressing up. If you’re driving livestock for a living you probably wouldn’t dress up, but otherwise, why not?”
It feels great when you take pride in what you do. In what other ways does your pride in trucking shine through? Join our community here and tell us about it.
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