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Kyle’s career path took quite a few different turns before arriving in his current role as the Apprenticeship Program Leader for Veriha Trucking. Kyle, 33 was born in LaCrosse, WI. He spent his high school years in Alma Center, WI.

Military Service

Right after he finished high school, Kyle enlisted in the U.S. Army. His 5 years in the service, took him around the world. He went from Wisconsin, through Germany, to Iraq and finally to Fort Hood, TX. As a Combat Engineer he spent his time “doing a little bit of everything—from security, dismounted patrols, route clearance, building bases.”

After leaving the military, he dabbled in a career in the medical field as respiratory therapist, though ultimately it wasn’t the right fit for him. “I loved learning” he said but didn’t like working in the hospital environment at all. From there, he dug into a 5 year stint in the mining industry.

“Loading rail cars, moving trains, in the actual pit.  I had a blast.” But ultimately when the oil industry took a turn, he took that opportunity to move on and decided to learn how to drive a truck.

He “picked a company with good on-the-job training, that fit me and my family. I got my CDL in 2 weeks, got my own truck and away I went for the next year”. Kyle noted that being an over-the-road truck driver gave him a great opportunity to see more of the United States. Driving through Tennessee was a route that he really enjoyed. Up to that point, he said he’d been in more different countries than states.

Veriha Trucking: Opportunities to Grow

veriha truckingBeing away from home for long stretches no longer best fit his family’s needs, and he looked for a new job that kept him closer to home. He found an opening at Veriha Trucking as a Yard Spotter and joined the team there 2 years ago.

From the yard, he moved on to being a coach in the Safety Department, and then ultimately to his current role as the Apprenticeship Program Leader. He’s been with that program “as part of the startup, from inception to today”.

When asked about the Apprenticeship Program, he talks about how it’s “unlike anything else. Instead of learning on a range, we get people out hauling freight with an actual trainer. Giving them the clear picture of what it’s like to be a driver.”

Kyle talks about what he thinks differentiates their program from others. “The big difference is we’re invested in these people from the beginning.”

Once candidates are identified, successfully interviewed and pass all background checks, “people are hired from day one.” The program boasts “accelerated results from drivers. People are out there doing great work, much faster than expected. It’s really paying off for them. If it’s good for the driver, it’s generally good for the company.”

At Veriha Trucking, “everybody in the company is encouraged to do personal development. Book clubs, networking. Everyone is encouraged to better themselves.”

Kyle is married and has twin 5-year old children, a daughter and son, who keep him very busy. Currently, they enjoy residing in northeastern WI. In addition, in his free time, he enjoys fishing, hunting, and woodworking.

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Truck drivers have a tough job. Many long days driving on the road alone. Many long weeks away from home and family. This can sometimes lead to feelings of loneliness and stress.

A dog can help improve your physical, mental, and social well being.

If you’re seeking to increase your overall personal wellness, what can you do? First steps should be to look for ways to improve your physical, mental and/or social well being.

What better way to do all three than to bring your dog with you while you drive?

Truck driver Pete Kleckner and Snickers are practically inseparable both on and off the road. Source: Overdrive Online

Physical

Traveling with a dog gives you a great excuse to get out and walk around and get some exercise a few times each day.  When you make a pit stop, you can get out and take your pup for walk, throw a ball around with him or just enjoy some fresh air with your 4-legged buddy.

These walks and play time with your dog can add up to the daily steps you need to keep your heart healthy and your blood pressure well-managed.

Mental

Driving with any pet gives you instant company in the cab of the truck over the hours and miles with you every day. If the long hours by yourself make you feel lonely or even a little stir crazy, your dog can be just the ear you need to listen to you work out something that’s bothering you.

Or they just might lend that extra harmony needed when singing along to your favorite song on the radio.

Image via Pinterest

Social

Having your dog with you when you’re at a truck stop taking him for walk, makes for an easy conversation starter with other people. People love to talk about their dogs and ask about other people’s dogs. This ensures a few times each day you’ve got a built-in reason to strike up a conversation with someone, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Lastly, know that it’s not just all about you. Once you make the decision to bring your dog with you, there are resources to help ensure you’ve got all the tools to make your dog’s experience on the road comfortable and safe.

The time you spend with your dog every day, taking good care of them, and providing them with stimulation and exercise, makes for a great life for any dog! When you treat them like family or even like a best friend, you’ll certainly get back all the love in return.

truck driving with a dog

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Edward “Eddie” Dalzell talked his way into his first truck driving job at age 19 in Massachusetts.

3 million accident-free miles and almost 50 years later, Eddie’s now retired from truck driving but still logging miles on foot as a hiker and lead CSR for Penske in San Antonio.

truck driver

As he tells the story, he got his first truck driving job through good old-fashioned persistence. And telling a little bit of a lie.

“The company I was working for went out of business. There were no other jobs around. The car I had ran out of gas, I had no money. So, I walked 3 miles down the road to a place that was supposedly hiring truck drivers. I had no clue how to drive a truck. I kept going back day after day until they finally hired me!”

From there, he had a friend teach him how to drive a truck.

Once he got his start with that first job in Massachusetts, Eddie moved south after a few years. There he got his first job as a tanker truck driver. He spent the next few decades with various jobs between Texas and Louisiana, driving tankers between refineries and operating other heavy equipment. He mentions that some of those were dangerous jobs, and that thankfully he got lucky a few times.

Living and working near the Gulf of Mexico, he saw his share of hurricanes and severe weather.

The memory of those storms still stand out to Eddie. “Dodging hurricanes, wasn’t fun. Everyone else was leaving, but we’d be heading into the storms with the plywood to help. Last hurricane I drove 27 hours straight because of all the road closures to get around it. Had to get right back up in 5 hours to go back into it.”

When asked about his time as a truck driver at Dupre Logistics, he said that they were big on safety, and provided great training.

dupre-logistics

He also fondly recalls having a great boss who became a life-long friend to this day.

“At Dupre, Leadership was very good. We had good drivers. We could laugh and have fun.  They are VERY fair. They also gave a nice safety bonus every 3 months which was nice”.

That bonus came with a safety meeting at a great local steakhouse. Eddie mentioned he never missed a bonus, or the steak dinners. Working for Dupre, he said that integrity was important.

“There’s lots of competition out there but the jobs kept coming back to us because they liked what we were doing.”

Over the years, he also spent time as a driving instructor and unofficial career and life coach.

“Taught people how to drive standard trucks. I enjoyed that. I also told students to follow your dreams. Listen to Mr. Eddie: Don’t do something you hate, you’ll be miserable your whole life.”

Now retired from driving, Eddie spends his days working as a hiker and lead Customer Service Representative for Penske.

truck driver

He says he logs over 52 miles a week on foot, 20,000 steps, walking around the facility. Quite a change from all of the hours and miles behind the wheel!

Eddie, 68, has a wife, 6 children and 10 grandkids. In his free time, he enjoys living close to 3 of those grandkids.

“I get to see them all the time. Grandma loves to keep them on the weekends – gives their moms a break”. He also enjoys fishing and keeping fit and active.

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For Tiffany Adams, being a truck driver runs in the family. “My dad was a truck driver, so it’s in the family blood”. Though she tried a few things prior to getting into the trucking business officially, since age 21, “trucking was the only way to go” for her.

Tiffany’s favorite route to drive is “I-24 going through Kentucky.

It’s the most beautiful run anyone could ever do.” The summertime bluegrass lined roads all around Paducah are her favorite.  She recommends a stop at Patti’s Settlement 1880’s restaurant if you’re in the neighborhood. A stop at Patti’s “definitely should be on your to-do list if you’re in the area”.

After a normal day of 10-11 hours, she mentions a struggle that she’s advocating for: MORE PARKING.


“The daily struggles today we have is parking. Parking is so limited to the truck stops that we have across the nation, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find parking after 5 pm. And it’s just getting worse. It’s getting to the point you can’t find parking, and you need to drive 20+ miles out of your route just to find a place park”.

She hopes that in the future there’s expanded parking available at truck stops and rest stops around the country.

Tiffany drives with her husband Weston.

You can find them passing the time “listening to a lot of country music while we’re riding down the highway”.

When they’re not out on the road or getting ready for their next long-haul, they enjoy spending time playing with their horses, their family and hanging out with friends. “We love what we do we provide for our states, building supplies, rail road supplies, your every day needs”.

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How do drivers celebrate Mother’s Day on the road or at home? Drive My Way surveyed some CDL truck drivers to find out how they’re spending the day.

Mark Ryan says he’ll be thinking about his mother in heaven, while Diane Stahr Hess will be on the road, heading from Salt Lake City to Oklahoma City to start her work week. Diane, who teams with her husband, said the two will say a prayer for their mothers in heaven.

A lot of drivers are contributing to Mother’s Day celebrations everywhere. People are expected to spend $23.1 billion, according to the National Retail Federation and truck drivers play an integral role in that spending, transporting and delivering the flowers, jewelry or even the ingredients for a big dinner out.

Susie Dorman-Caper is hoping for calls from two of her daughters.

Wendy Trudeau, founder of the Facebook group Trucking Fur Babies, fittingly replied through her dogs, “We have no plans except to give mommy extra loving that day.”

However you spend the Mother’s Day holiday, we hope you have a great one.

annca / Pixabay

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The growing shortage of empty driver jobs impact everything from rate hikes to product prices. In other words, fewer drivers means it costs more to transport goods, resulting in a pricing increase for manufacturers that gets passed on to consumers.

Solutions and suggestions for how to fill empty driver jobs range from pay increases to more shared routes between drivers. Also, individuals talk about how exactly to draw millennials to the field. This would replace the retiring baby boomers and those uninterested in coping with recent ELD changes.

Writer and millennial Nicole Spector, took a ride as part of her assignment with an experienced UPS driver, Becky Ascencio. The pair shared a 12-hour shift, traveling from Sylmar to Fresno, Ca.

Ultimately, Spector won’t joining the 7% of women driving big rigs. However, she understood what the job requires. In addition, she also understood exactly how much work is involved. Lastly, Spector learned what it means to love your job.

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leestilltaolcom / Pixabay

A newly proposed bill may allow younger truck drivers to drive across state borders. Currently, federal law prohibits younger truck drivers aged 18-21 from driving outside their licensed state.

However, on March 27, California State Representative Duncan Hunter and Indiana State Representative Trey Hollingsworth introduced a new bill. The bill allows younger truck drivers to avoid this three-year limitation. To encourage more young people to pursue driving as a career, the two state representatives believe it is imperative to allow young drivers to cross state borders if needed. They argue that this could address the driver shortage and allow older drivers to retire. It could also help keep costs down for employers by having a larger pool of employees to choose from.

This age reduction would come with limits, such as longer chaperoned hours on the road and more on-duty hours before being awarded their new license. However, not everyone remains convinced that adding younger drivers to the pool would provide a positive outcome. Also, some industry leaders believe that allowing young drivers across state lines could lead to higher crash rates and result in catastrophe.

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“I’m trained to deal with any type of situation. I thought about it the rest of the day, but it didn’t affect my job. I don’t feel like it was anything special. It was just a natural instinct for me. I try to be a good person.”

A Dupré Logistics driver is being named nothing short of a hero after saving a family of seven. In June of 2017, Fernandez Garner was traveling down I-45 N. He witnessed a large SUV cut off by a tanker, and consequentially, tumble off the road.

Garner saw one of the passengers, a little girl, had been thrown from the car to the middle of the highway. He instantly braked and blocked the road to protect her from incoming cars. Then, after examining her for any wounds, he ran down the side of the road to help the rest of the family.

Inside the vehicle, he found a boy, two girls, and their mother, frantically reaching for her baby. In addition, the driver, presumably the father, seemed to be injured. Garner moved the children back towards the road. He then calmed the mother down, assuring the safety of her children.

For this act of heroism, the Truckload Carriers Association named Garner a Highway Angel. In addition, Dupré Logistics expressed gratitude and pride in Garner for taking such steps to ensure the safety of all drivers.

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Walmart truck driver Carol Nixon shares a special story of determination and generosity. Her story inspires us entering into 2018 and helps us set goals for the year.

Carol Nixon, 48, of St. James, Mo., drove since 1990. Over the past five years, she has worked as an over-the-road driver for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. In February of 2015 she met Deb Pollard, a fellow truck driver for Walmart. Fate brought together again in September of that year as roommates at the first annual Accelerate Conference sponsored by the Women in Trucking Association.

In addition, Deb shared that her husband Craig suffered from kidney failure and dialysis. The couple searched tirelessly for a donor, but unfortunately failed to receive a result. Then, Carol offered her kidney without a moment’s hesitation. “I didn’t even think about it,” Carol said. “I told her, ‘please, take it!’”

While both seemed the perfect match for the transplant, their journey included challenges. Carol stopped driving for three months prior to the donation due to dizziness. Doctors initially thought heart problems caused this. However, they realized they were migraines, and she received permission to donate her kidney again. Meanwhile, doctors at the University of Alabama hospital found that Craig suffered from blockage that could have killed him.  Finally, after these hurdles, the transplant took place and completed successfully in November of 2016.

Despite the challenges they faced, Carol never wavered in her decision to donate her kidney.

Even if she failed to match for Craig, she agreed to still donate her kidney to another recipient through the Kidney Paired Donation Pilot Program. The program matches medically compatible pairs of potential living kidney donors with transplant candidates. In cases where the potential donor doesn’t match with his or her original intended recipient.

When asked what drove her to donate despite all the challenges she replied “Perseverance.  When you’re told no, just keep pushing.”

With the transplant behind them, both Carol and Craig are doing well.  Craig immediately came off dialysis after the surgery and remained diligent about following his post-surgery protocol. Carol took six weeks off of work to recover. However, drives again now and stays healthy on the road by preparing meals for the road. She also walks three miles daily, whether at home or on the road.  When she’s home she and her husband spend time restoring their vintage cars and hanging out with her grandson.

Carol now adds raising awareness for organ donation to her growing list of charities that she supports.  At the November 2017 Accelerate Conference, she met the aunt of a young girl whose tissue donation gave two people the gift of sight. She also met the mother of a young girl in her community whose organ donations helped save the lives of five people.

Both of these girls received a floragraph on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade on January 1, 2018.

The Donate Life float honors millions of people touched by organ, eye and tissue donation. These include living donors, donor families, transplant recipients and transplant candidates.  The stories of these young girls further inspired Carol to share her own story. Her hope is her story raises awareness for organ donation.

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fallen veterans

Photo courtesy of livetrucking.com

After completing a load in New Jersey, Illinois trucker J.D. Walker continued on to Columbia Falls, Maine. He then began his journey to honor the graves of fallen veterans.  Walker participated in a program called “Wreaths Across America” that delivers wreaths to veteran cemeteries across the US.  The program started in 1992 when the owner of the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, ME donated 5,000 wreaths to Arlington Cemetery.  Since then the program grown in size to do the sames for over 1,200 cemeteries across the country.

After waiting for two days in Columbia Falls, Maine, Walker picked up more than 4,200 wreaths and began his task of delivering the wreaths and placing them on the graves of fallen veterans in cemeteries in Concordia, Kansas City, Liberty, Jacksonville, Eldon and Jefferson City, Missouri.  Walker told the The Herald-Whig that after losing his 21-year-old son in Iraq in 2007, he feels compelled to honor the lives of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.  He returned home on December 15, after completing his 9-day trek to deliver the wreaths.

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