Back in April we told you all about a driver in the CalArk family who had hit his Million Mile Milestone with us. Herbert Wolfe came back in today to pick up his 10 year service award, which included a plaque and a two-tone Seiko watch with the CalArk logo on it. Herbert plans on retiring this coming April after nearly 30 years in the trucking industry. When asked what he plans to do upon retirement, Herbert says he is going to find a girlfriend. If you know him at all, you know he is always joking. We will miss his joyful demeanor and his distinguishable laugh in the hallways once he retires, but we wish him all the very best! Thank you, Herbert, for spending the last 10 years moving the Wheels of American Business.
Brian "Todd" Thompson recently stopped by the Safety Office to pick up his 1 Million Mile ring, jacket, and plaque. Todd has been with CalArk since February of 2011 and is on Michelle Finn’s board. He is from Mead, Oklahoma, the state where he's lived his whole life except for a brief stint in California when he was in his early twenties.
When Todd graduated high school he says he just "messed around for a few years." He found himself in California working at a gas station at 20 years old until a piano moving company came through and offered him a job. He also worked at an antique furniture store while in California. After several years, though, Todd returned to Oklahoma and worked odd jobs. It was in 1993 when he started his first trucking job. He worked for Old Milwaukee and said somehow he passed the driving test although he didn’t know what he was doing and ground the gears all the way through.
Since then, Todd has worked for other trucking companies like Werner, FedEx Ground, Musgrave Trucking, and Stan Koch & Sons before coming to CalArk. Todd comes from a family of drivers. His grandpa was a box truck driver and his uncle delivered eggs. He would ride with them in the summertime, waking up at 3 AM to run their routes.
Todd says he learned how to drive a truck over the CB Radio. Other drivers would tell him how to do things like drive through mountains by saying things like, "follow me, and when I brake you brake." Todd laughs when he says this and adds, "I smoked a lot of trailer brakes in the beginning!"
Todd also recalls not knowing how to keep a log book. He said he made the mistake of listening to some other drivers and never really knew how to "properly" keep a log book until he met a certain DOT officer at roadside in 1995. He had never been inspected before, and the officer quickly caught on to the fact that Todd didn’t understand log books. Right there on the side of I75 in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, that officer helped Todd learn how to properly log his hours of service.
Todd also tells about the days where there were no cell phones to carry with you. Drivers would have to find a stop that had a pay phone available, and he would often have to wait in line to use the phone. Sometimes he would wait for an hour or more to call in to dispatch just to hear there was no load available and he would have to call back. Shaking his head, Todd says, "technology helps us a lot nowadays."
Todd says his favorite load ever was pianos, which he loved moving. He also likes dry van, for the in and out with no loading. He likes trucking in general because it fits his personality. Todd is quiet and likes to keep to himself most of the time. He doesn’t have a lot of friends; he says it’s a quality versus quantity issue. He is very connected with his family. Todd never had kids of his own but he helps with his nieces and nephews.
When Todd is not driving, he likes to watch the Sooners play. He also likes the Dallas Cowboys and he recently started following the Browns since former Sooner Baker Mayfield won the Heisman last year. He also likes to ride his Yamaha Viking Side by Side or go out on the lake in his boat during the Summer.
Other awards Todd has received at CalArk include 100, 000 to 900,000 mile awards, 100% On Time Delivery each year, and his 5 years of Service Award. Todd also recently moved into his brand new 2019 International. Todd likes CalArk because, "it just works out." He has never been with any other company for more than 3 years. When asked what advice he would share with new drivers to CalArk or new drivers to the industry he says, "Pull yourself back and don’t get stressed. Slow down. I’ve learned that I can slow down and do things right and cover the same distance. Just calm down and take your time."
Thank you, Todd, for your commitment to Safety, to CalArk, and to the trucking industry. We are proud to have you on our team driving the Wheels of American Business. Congratulations on 1 Million Miles!
CalArk driver Randal Davidson of Grovetown Georgia, reached two impressive milestones this year. He has logged over 2.5 Million Miles with CalArk and has been moving the Wheels of American Business for 20 years.
Before CalArk, Randal worked in millwork as a supervisor and as a mechanic, and worked in creative machinery and thread design. When he is not driving, he likes to go home and work on his 1974 yellow AMC Javelin. If you have ever seen a Javelin, you know it has certain features that makes it look like a Camaro, a Mustang, a Barracuda, and a Corvette. That’s one reason Randal fell in love with the car. Since he is over the road so much, his Javelin is a 5-year project so far. In addition to working on his Javelin, Randal is also a talented musician who plays the guitar and sings.
Randal is on Ronnie Moore’s board, and Ronnie says, "Randal is always willing to help out when a driver needs to get home or we have a hot load that needs to deliver. He’s very knowledgeable of his job and plans his days well in advance." Tommy Kilburn, Safety, tells us, "Randal is just a really good guy."
In addition to 2.5 Million Miles of driving and 20 years, Randal has received other awards and recognition at CalArk. These include 100,000 to 900,000 miles, 5 Years of Service, 1 Million Miles, 10 Years of Service, 1.25 Million Miles, 1.5 Million Miles, 1.75 Million Miles, 2 Million Miles, 2.25 Million Miles and 100% On Time Delivery each year. He says that all jobs have their ups and downs, but staying with one is better than jumping around. And he says CalArk is steady work.
We’d like to thank you, Randal, for choosing to spend the last 20 years with us. We are very proud of your accomplishments and we look forward to many more with you.
It is a true honor to share Allen Robertson's accomplishment with you all. Allen lives in Westland, Michigan, is originally from Richmond, VA, and is on Karen Dennis’ board. He started with CalArk 22 years ago but has been driving big trucks for more than 30 years.
He started driving during his military career, which he began right out of high school. Allen was drafted into the US Army during Vietnam and retired from the army after putting in 20 years of service. He worked at various levels doing different jobs during his military career, including drill sergeant and military police desk sergeant. He never went to combat but stayed on alert as he was never far from the war. He spent most of his time doing training, special weapons training, and patrol. Allen said he would do "whatever was needed."
That is exactly the mentality Allen has, which we value here at CalArk as well; he will do whatever is needed. After the military, Allen held several other types of jobs including security guard, meat packing plant worker, janitor, and cook before seeing an ad by Schneider that said, "Stop dreaming and do it." That was the beginning of Allen’s long truck driving career.
Allen says he likes driving a truck because he has always been an outdoors person. He likes to travel, and he doesn’t mind the work. He believes in doing his best "whether the load is one mile or one thousand miles." Anyone who knows Allen will agree with his next statement: "I’m not perfect, but I sure try to be."
That attitude is evident from the awards and recognition he has earned with CalArk. Prior to his current 3.75 Million Miles achievement, Allen has also received his 100,000 to 900,000 mile awards, his 1 Million Mile Award, 5 Year Service Award, 100% On Time Delivery each year, Company Driver of the Year 2003, Company Driver of the Year 2004, 1.5 Million Mile Award, 2 Million Mile Award, 10 Year Service Award, Company Driver of the Year 2nd Runner Up 2006, Company Driver of the Year 2007, Company Driver Most Miles Driven 2008, Company Driver Most Miles Driven 2009, Company Driver of the Year 1st Runner Up 2009, Company Most Miles Driven 2010, Company Most Miles Driven 2012, 2.75 Million Mile Award, Company Best Fuel Mileage 2013, 3 Million Mile Award, Company Best Fuel Mileage 2014, Company Driver of the Year 2014, 3.5 Million Mile Award, Company Driver of the Year 2016, and Company Driver of the Year 2nd Runner UP 2017. In addition to these awards and recognition, Allen has also represented CalArk in the Arkansas Trucking Association’s Truck Driving Championship for 5 years.
When Allen is not driving a truck, he has several hobbies he enjoys. He is a coin collector, plays the guitar, and knows a variety of music. He plays by ear, and if he hears something one time, he can play it. Allen also enjoys cooking, particularly hamburger steak with gravy, fried apples, meatloaf, and even homemade bread. When he is over the road, though, he opts for quick choices like Subway that are also healthy.
22 years with one trucking company is an impressive feat. When asked how he has stayed with CalArk for so long, Allen says we’ve been honest from day one. "Ms. Ann" was his first dispatcher, and she would do whatever Allen needed. He says CalArk has been there for him over the years and is his second home. He knows everyone, from the owner down.
When asked his advice for newer drivers to the industry and to CalArk, he says, "You have to take the good with the bad. And you will have bad days. But, with CalArk, when they can count on you it’s a good feeling. And you can count on them."
Allen, we thank you for your service to your country, to our industry, and to our company. We are proud of you and we look forward to seeing your future accomplishments as you continue to move the Wheels of American Business with us.
It is bittersweet to be typing these words, but after 10 years and 1.2 Million Miles of Safe driving Jesse Alegría is taking some time off from trucking. He will be greatly missed while he is away, but he promises he is coming back to us at CalArk. It is a commendable reason to take time off; Jesse said his wife of 32 years (as of December 19, 2018), Rosalba, has been patient with him being over the road. With just 2 and 3 days home here and there, Jesse says he owes Rosalba more.
So, he is quitting (for now) and the plan is to spend time with his wife and family and take a trip to either Italy or Hawaii. Jesse is obviously a family man. He has two children, Veronica and Jesse Jr. Jesse lives in San Antonio, Texas, but grew up in Ohio where he says he originally learned to drive with his dad. He has been driving a truck since the age of 16 because in Ohio if you stay on rural roads it was considered driving a "farm truck." Jesse credits his dad with teaching him so much growing up.
When asked if he has any hobbies, Jesse says his "Honey Do List" is his hobby. He once had a motorcycle when he was a bachelor in California, but gave up his Harley days when he married Rosalba, who feared for his safety. Jesse also left behind his days of driving race cars and running quarter miles at the drag strip. In fact, his last speeding ticket was in 1994 in his Ford Mustang. Jesse did say he and his wife like to eat out and they enjoy all types of cuisine as San Antonio boasts some really great eateries. Jesse maintains that San Antonio is best known for their Barbecue. He also has very eclectic taste in music. He listens to Rock and Roll, Tejano, Heavy Metal, Jazz, and R&B. He also learned to play the guitar from his dad many years ago.
Jesse is obviously committed to anything he does, and that doesn’t stop at family. Jesse started with CalArk in July of 2008 and has proven to be a very safe, conscientious, and professional driver. Prior to CalArk, he had retired from the Marine Corps after 22 years. He then worked for Chase Bank as a First Level Manager, with 18 people reporting to him before he obtained his CDL with Swift. Among awards Jesse has received during his tenure with CalArk are 100,000 to 900,000 safe driving miles, 100% On Time Delivery each year, 5 Year Service Award, 10 Year Service Award, 1 Million Miles of Safe Driving, and most recently 1.2 Million Miles of Safe Driving.
Per Leslie Stout, CalArk Safety Director, "Jesse is an all-around good person. He is trustworthy, reliable, and the type of driver any company would be proud to have in their truck. If Jesse is faced with an unforeseen situation, there are no worries about how he will handle it. He is very safe and professional. We are fortunate he chose CalArk." Rebecca Melton, CalArk Operations Manager, echoes this sentiment by saying, "Jesse is an awesome driver and so professional. He has always been so helpful."
When asked what his secret is to staying with one trucking company for so long, Jesse says he genuinely likes CalArk. "I like everyone here: the planners, Dispatch, Safety. Just good people." When asked what advice he would give to new drivers in the industry, Jesse said, "Pay attention and focus. We see it all from up there in our driver seat. There are too many people on cell phones, too many people distracted. You have to drive safely for them, too."
Thank you, Jesse, for all you do and all you’ve done for your country, for your family, and for CalArk. We are excited for the wonderful memories you and your family are about to make, but we will be looking forward to your return to The Wheels of American Business.
Tim Franklin has logged 2.5 Million Miles with CalArk, and recently celebrated his 20 Year Anniversary as a member of the CalArk Family. When he sat down with CalArk Safety Director, Leslie Stout, to talk about the last 20 years he was beaming over his new blue Peterbilt he was about to move into. He would have been in a new truck sooner, but he wanted to wait on a blue one.
20 years is impressive for a driver in the Trucking Industry now, especially when it is spent with the same company. Tim actually started his trucking career prior to CalArk and boasts an impressive total of 33 years behind the wheel of a big rig. Tim comes from a family of truck drivers who include his dad and his uncles. He says his Uncle Herman let Tim help him load up his truck and let Tim sit in the seat. Tim also drove on a farm for a neighbor at the age of 14. Tim says that did it for him; he wanted to be a truck driver and that is all he has ever wanted to be.
Sevierville, Tennessee is the only place Tim has called home. That is where he grew up and that is where he is routed for home time. Tim is pretty low key and low maintenance. He enjoys days where he is off and has no schedule to keep and has no-where to be. He likes to spend time with his mom and dad. Since all he has ever known is trucking and since he has spent his entire adult life working, he doesn’t know much else.
When asked how he has made it 20 years with the same company, Tim first credits Deronda Wofford saying, “It’s Deronda. I pulled off some incredible things when I started so she started calling me one of her good ones. She still calls me one of her good ones”. He also says he likes all the people at CalArk. He has friends here. There is nobody in the office he cannot go to. Everyone is approachable.
When asked what he would tell new drivers coming to CalArk, Tim says he would tell them, “If you don’t know something, call someone. If you can’t get someone on the phone, look around you. Don’t be too proud to ask for help. The best lessons come from humbling yourself and asking for help.” Tim then shared an example of a time earlier in his career when he was frustrated and screaming mad over not being able to back into a particular parking spot. He said an older driver came up to his truck and told him to set the parking brake and get out. The older gentleman proceeded to talk to Tim to calm him down. Then right there in the lot that night, the older gentleman taught Tim how to use the “zig zag method” to back. Tim continues on saying, “It is so important to help others you see struggling”. That is exactly what Tim does now. He is paying it forward by helping other drivers he may see struggling.
Per Leslie Stout, “Tim is someone who takes pride in a job well done. He may have a bad day, but he is willing to do what it takes to turn it around. He is committed to being the best he can be. He is respectful and understands no matter how long you drive, how experienced you think you are, there is always something to learn in this industry”.
Thank you, Tim, for choosing CalArk. Thank you for your commitment to Safety, to CalArk, and to the industry. We are proud of your accomplishments and look forward to seeing you hit many more milestones while moving the Wheels of American Business.
Irish Fuggins has spent 20 years of his total 31 years of driving with CalArk. He drove for other reputable companies in the industry but says CalArk has always treated him nice and he has nothing to complain about. Rebecca Melton, Operations, says Irish is a great guy who, "can be a handful but I have always enjoyed working with him and his driver manager knows how to handle him and keep him happy!" Michelle Finn, Irish's Driver Manager says, "Irish and I make a great team. He's one I can depend on for pretty much anything. He might fuss at me at times, but he always comes through for CalArk and for his dispatcher. I could not ask for a better driver."
Irish is from Shreveport, Louisiana, where he has lived his entire life. He and his wife Vickey have been married for seven years, and have four children and twelve grandchildren between them. Since he is from Louisiana, Irish has been given the CB handle "Crawfish" or "Fish" for short. When he isn't driving a truck, he loves to fish for Bass and White Perch. He doesn't get to fish as much as he would like to right now, but says when he retires you will be able to find him at the lake. Irish also likes to watch any kind of sports, but his favorites are tennis and golf. He also likes to listen to R&B and Country Music.
Over his 20 years with CalArk, Irish has accumulated many awards and accolades. He has received 100,000 to 900,000 Miles Safe Driving, 100% On Time Delivery each year, 5 Years of Service Plaque, 1 Million Miles Safe Driving, 10 Years of Service Watch, 2 Million Safe Driving Miles, 2.5 Million Safe Driving Miles, and is currently working on 3 Million Safe Driving Miles. When asked what he attributes his success to Irish says, "providing for my family has always been my #1 encouragement." He says he is also willing to make sacrifices and do what it takes to get the job done. Irish says that, "new drivers need to have the ability, understanding, and willingness to sacrifice." He adds, "watch your surroundings, be careful with your speed and turns, and watch your weight."
Thank you, Irish, for 20 years of stellar service with CalArk. We look forward to many more. It's drivers like you who keep the Wheels of American Business rolling.
Chris Patton has been with CalArk since September of 2006 and lives in Humphrey, Arkansas. His CB handle is "Runt" because he was always the smallest in his family growing up. He has one brother and two best friends who are like brothers to him.
Before coming to CalArk, he worked on a farm most of his life and was running trackhoes (excavators) and bulldozers at the age of 12. Chris says, "If it has wheels or tracks, I can drive it." If he can't operate something, it doesn't take him long to figure it out. When not driving, he likes to hunt, fish, and shoot guns, but he says all he really knows is work.
His dad and grandpa started him out at a young age. When he was 11 years old, his mother picked him up from school, and he got excited when she said his dad had gotten something for Chris and his brother to "play with." Hoping to see a new toy, Chris says he instead found a brand new chainsaw. His dad told him the plan was to use it the following weekend to collect wood to sell and that they needed to make enough money to pay for the chainsaw.
Chris intended to join the military, not drive a truck, after he graduated in 1995, but an accident with a 12-gauge shotgun changed his plans. In February of 1995, while hunting with some friends, Chris's shotgun misfired and shot a hole through his right hand, thus changing his career path forever. Through months of plates, screws, and several reconstructive surgeries, Chris kept a positive attitude.
12 years ago, CalArk's then-Director of Safety, Dennis Hilton, took a chance on him. Chris was ready to get to work driving a commercial motor vehicle, but regulations required him to have a special certificate called an SPE because of his injured right hand. He was concerned about how he was going to pay bills while waiting on the SPE to be approved. Dennis told him, "We're going to do what we need to so you can drive for us." Dennis then asked the maintenance shop to hire Chris while waiting for his certificate. Two months later, Chris was driving a CalArk truck, and he's been in one ever since.
He has since experienced tremendous success as a professional truck driver with CalArk. Among awards and recognition over the past 12 years, in addition to his current 1.5 Million Safe Driving Miles, Chris has achieved 100,000 to 1.25 Million Safe Driving Miles, 100% On-Time Delivery each year, Company Driver of the Year 2nd Runner Up 2008, Company Driver of the Year 2009, Company Best Fuel Mileage 2009, 2010 Arkansas Trucking Association Driver of the Year, 5 Year Service Award 2012, 10 Year Service Award 2016, Company Driver of the Year 2nd Runner Up 2016, was featured in Truckers Newspaper Magazine in 2009 and in Changing Lanes Magazine in 2011. Chris has also represented CalArk in the Annual Truck Convoy for Special Olympics and at the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship multiple times over the years.
Michelle Finn, Chris's Driver Manager, says, "Chris is a team player. He is extremely hard-working, professional, and dedicated. He is a high achiever and an amazing person to work with every day. I could not imagine being able to my job without him. He's a comedian when everyone is in need of a laugh. I could be having a horrible day, and he always takes a minute to cheer me up. He's just a great guy all the way around." Chris had positive words to share about his Driver Manager as well, saying that Michelle takes care of him and keeps him running the miles he needs.
In today's industry, it is a great accomplishment to stay with one company for 12 years. Chris says he has stuck with CalArk because of what Dennis Hilton did for him. Chris also says he told himself at first that he would give CalArk one year. Then he gave us two. Then three. Now he has been here so long he doesn't want to go anywhere else. Chris says, "When the President of the company sits down with you during Driver Appreciation Week and knows your name, that's special. Some people may not think that's anything, but that's huge to me. I'm happy here."
When asked what he would say to new drivers coming to CalArk, Chris says, "Find your way. Find your niche. Give it at least one year. If you have a problem, talk to someone. If you are willing to work, CalArk will work with you. You get out of it what you put into it. You will have bad weeks, and it may look like there is no end in sight, but stick with it."
Thank you, Chris, for sticking with it at CalArk. We are very fortunate you chose us and that you keep choosing us. Congratulations on 1.5 Million Safe Driving Miles. It's truly drivers like you who keep the Wheels of American Business Rolling.
Larry Smith came in to pick up his 1.5 Million Mile Award and to announce his retirement from CalArk on the same day. Larry has spent the last 11 years of his 41 year driving career with CalArk. Directly after leaving the army, Larry worked for a company called Royal Industries. The company made farm equipment and he pulled a flatbed for them from the plant to a rail yard. Among other companies on his resume are CFI, CRST, and Exxact Transport. He also spent some time as an owner operator.
He says out of all the driving jobs he has had over the years, he appreciates CalArk and the family atmosphere we have provided him the most. “You can come in and speak to anyone anytime; everyone is approachable no matter who they are or what they do."
Larry is from Holden, Missouri, but lives in Tampa, Florida, now with his wife Connie of 11 years. He has three children, two daughters and a son who all still live in Missouri. Now that Larry is retiring and will be spending more time at home, he plans to ride his Honda motorcycle much more often.
One of the most interesting facts about Larry is he not only served in the United States Army from 1969 to 1975, but he fought in the infantry during Vietnam. He carried a grenade launcher and says by the end of the war he was pretty proficient with his aim. Throughout his tenure in the army, he was stationed in places such as Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Lewis in Washington, Leonardwood, Missouri, Germany, Hawaii, and he was in Norway for one week where he was the coldest he has ever been in his whole life.
Known by his CB handle, Thunderbolt, Larry says he missed the old days of trucking where there was more driver camaraderie at customers and at truck stops, where you could pull out a grill and cook out with anyone who happened to be on the lot. He remembers the days of less regulation. While Larry reminisces over the way things were, he maintains there are some changes that have been for the better. For one, trucks are better. They are built better; the old Freightliners would get cold inside if wind hit because there was no insulation. And cell phones and Qualcomms have improved communications; no more hunting for a pay phone and hoping dispatch would answer when you happened to call.
Larry says he will miss the friends he has made at CalArk. He’s had several dispacthers he will miss, including his first dispatcher Malea McElyea. He mentioned specifically CalArk drivers Tammy Williams and Robert Anderson. He says they are “good drivers, and good people”. They’ve all been friends for years and he hopes to stay in touch with them.
When asked what he would say to his fellow drivers and those who are entering the industry, he said, “Stay vigilant. You have to stay vigilant.” “Roads are getting more congested, and the motoring public is getting more dangerous. Stay vigilant”.
Thank you, Larry, for your continued vigilance in keeping the wheels of American business rolling safely. Thank you for your service in the United States Army. You have made CalArk and your country proud. We wish you well in all of your endeavors.
We would like to congratulate Thomas Christmas on his recent achievement of 1.2 Million Miles of safe driving. Thomas started his career in trucking in September of 2006 before coming to CalArk in July of 2009. He is from Belton, Texas and is on Michelle Finn's board. Thomas says being a driver was in the cards for him as his mother, father, two sisters, brother, and cousins have all been truck drivers as well. Before driving, he worked in fast food and retail.
He likes driving a truck because it gives him freedom and he is not micromanaged. He likes CalArk because of the nice equipment and the friendly people. He says "everybody knows everybody" and there aren’t many companies where you can walk in and talk to the owner or to the director of safety. Thomas's dispatcher, Michelle, says Thomas is a true team player and she enjoys managing him.
His CB handle is Santa Claus and was given to him by his father because of their last name. When he isn't driving he likes to fish, hunt, and do anything outdoors. He also enjoys spending time with his friends and family. Thomas has been a representative for CalArk at the Arkansas Truck Driving Championship in the past and has expressed interest in attending again in the coming year.
Among other awards and recognition, he has received 100,000 miles to 900,000 mile awards, 100% On Time Delivery each year, Company Driver of the Year 2nd Runner Up in 2012, 5-Year Service Plaque, and 1 Million Miles of Safe Driving. When asked what he would say to his fellow drivers about what has made him successful, Thomas says, "remember things won’t always go your way and you need to be a team player."
Thank you, Thomas, for being a team player here at CalArk and for all you do to keep the wheels of American business turning!