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.