Hyndman Driver Feature of the Month- April Edition

Dany Lévesque, Company Driver in truck 642140, Lévis Terminal, sat down for a quick chat with a member of our Hyndman Marketing Team (HMT) on Apr. 21st, 2017.

HMT – Dany, it’s a pleasure to meet with you.   You’re of the millennial generation, right? There’s been much talk about how our industry needs to do more to attract younger people.  What made you decide on a career in trucking?

DANY –  My Mom drives a truck.  She drives for Hyndman too.  Each summer when I was a kid, my sister and I would go on runs with my Mom.  I got to see the good and the not so good parts of the job.  I closely watched how my Mom did things like her truck inspections, managing the traffic, border crossings, interact with people, etc. I always looked forward to these summer trips and developed a special interest in trucking.  Maybe it is in my genes.

HMT -  When you look back at these special times, do you have a fond memory you can share with us?

DANY – I have lots of good memories.  I remember each night waiting for my sister to fall asleep so that I could go up front and sit next to Mom in the passenger’s seat.  We would talk and she would always give me the job of helping her watch for deer.  I took this job very seriously.  I never saw any but on one night with me riding shot-gun looking for deer, as we were going through the middle of Chicago, I shouted “DEER!”  Of course, there was no deer.  I was kidding.  I don’t remember Mom finding it as funny as I did.

HMT – You must have had some good stories for when you started back at school.

DANY – Yes. Every year the teacher would ask us what we did on our summer holiday?  I would proudly rhyme off a long list of every single State and Province we travelled through each summer and what I saw.  Unfortunately, the teachers often thought I was a wise-guy and didn’t believe me. I was telling the truth!

HMT – I imagine that not many of your school friends had Moms who were professional truck drivers, correct?  It wasn’t quite as common as it’s becoming today.  What was that like for you growing up?

DANY – Yes, I was unique but it was kind of cool.   We lived with my grandparents.  My mother made sure we had a very good support network and my sister and I always looked forward to our summers in the truck.  We got a first-hand appreciation of how hard she worked for us and we got to see so much of Canada and the U.S,. more than our friends ever did.  It was an education beyond the classroom.  We were lucky for the experiences.

HMT – Dany, what does your Mom think about you following her footsteps into trucking?

DANY – She has always been very supportive.  My decision to make trucking a career didn’t really come as a surprise to her.  She saw that I had a genuine interest in it.  For her, it was important that I got good training and established a good foundation for my career in trucking.

HMT – So did your Mom train you?

DANY – Yes, I went out with my Mom for a few weeks but not until I got 615 hours of formal truck school training at CFTC (Centre de Formation en Transport de Charlesbourg – Charlesbourg Transport Training Centre).

HMT – Wow! Did you say 615 hours?

DANY – Yes.  CFTC is a government funded school that offers a very comprehensive training program among some other programs.  It is attracting younger people to the industry and providing them with a solid foundation of knowledge and confidence at a very affordable cost.  It does not just emphasize the theory but gives you lots of practical experience behind the wheel with mountain driving, various road conditions and border crossings included.  You also get time in the simulator.  For me it was the best choice because they permitted me to do the training part-time, in the evenings and weekends, while I worked a full-time job. 

HMT – It sounds like Québec may have an edge on the rest of Canada on how to attract young people to our industry.  Okay, time for the “favourites” game.  What is your favourite:

TV Show?   

DANY -   District 31.  It’s a Montreal based cop show.  I also like Blue Moon.  It’s a drama about a secretive Canadian paramilitary company.  It’s very good. 

Radio Station?  

DANY – I like 99.9 Virgin Radio in Toronto.  They play a lot of new music I like.

Food?  

DANY – Poutine.  I’m serious!  There’s this little place in Pont-Rouge just west of Québec City called Casse-Croute de Vieux Moulin.  They make the best poutine.  Google it and check out the photos.  You will see what I mean.  You will never want Burger King poutine again.

Run?   

DANY – I once delivered office furniture in Lower Manhattan, NYC, to One World Trade Center.  That was very tricky, a real challenge for me, but WOW, what an experience!  I was free during the unloading so I got to explore Lower Manhattan a little.  I also took the opportunity to go up to the observation deck of the new World Trade Center tower.  That’s a run I will always remember for many reasons.  

HMT – Wow!  I suspect some drivers may have refused that load but not you.  You turned a challenge into an opportunity.  Dany, do you have any advice for younger people who may be considering a career in trucking?

DANY - My advice would be to get the very best possible training.  Invest the time.  Put in the work.  Ask lots of questions.  Build a strong foundation for a good career; no short cuts.  It is important to do your homework and have a realistic understanding of the job.  Patience and the ability to adapt with each load helps.  Find a good company in the beginning and build a good relationship with your dispatcher.  Don’t job hop around.  The grass isn’t necessarily greener. 

HMT – Well said.  Those are some wise words coming from our millennial generation.  Before we say good-bye, do you have any advice to the industry on how we can better attract more young people such as yourself? 

DANY –  I am not an expert on this but I think younger people want more from life today because we were encouraged to want more and not to settle.  We want a good and meaningful career.  We want a happy family life and a home.  We want balance.  I have a good relationship with my dispatcher, Lee, at the Lévis terminal.  I work hard and run the loads where he needs me to go and he gets me home most weekends so that I can spend quality time with my girlfriend and her two kids.  I’ve got good balance and it’s important to me.  I think the more companies work to provide this balance and respect drivers for their whole self and not just as a truck number, more people will speak positively about the job and that will have a positive effect on attracting more people of my generation or any generation to the industry.   

HMT Dany, thanks for chatting with us.  If you’re the future of trucking, I think we’re in good hands!

DANY –  Thank you for this opportunity.

March Featured Driver of the Month - Sheri Hollingworth

Sheri Hollingworth, Company Driver/Driver Trainer, WROX Terminal, in truck 642437 chatted with our Hyndman Marketing Team (HMT) on March 16, 2017.

HMT – Sheri, we recently celebrated International Women’s Day (March 8th) and thought it would be ideal to catch up with you this month.  How long have you been trucking and how did you come to decide on trucking as a career?

Sheri – I’ve been driving for 15 years now.  Started in 2002.  I’ve always had a passion for it.  Growing up in my family, if you wanted to ride shot-gun you were responsible for navigating.  Those were the rules.  I learned to read a map well and enjoyed it.  My Dad was a Class A mechanic and we had good family friends in trucking.  I spent a lot of time with Dad and became mechanically inclined.  I seriously considered mechanics but my Dad didn’t really encourage it.  Trucking always held my curiosity and here I am 15 years later still learning new things.

HMT – Today there’s a movement to create awareness amongst women about trucking as a viable career option, what would say to women considering trucking, any advice?

Sheri – Well, I’m a bit of a realist.  The first thing I would address is home life.  Many women are juggling a lot of things at home and to be a good driver you must focus and put in the time, put in the miles.  I’d ask them if they can realistically commit to that.  I’d also encourage them to speak to many drivers and to ask lots of questions.  They can’t all do Local out of the gate so they shouldn’t come to it with false expectations.  It can be a very rewarding career but it is not for everyone and that applies to men and women.  

HMT – Sheri, in addition to being a driver you’re a Hyndman driver trainer extraordinaire.  What motivated you to become a driver trainer?

Sheri – John Kellie in Safety approached me in 2008 and asked me to consider it.  There were a few female students starting to come out of the trucking schools and Hyndman saw an opportunity but needed a female trainer.  I gave it some thought and agreed to try it.  It was a bumpy start.  My first student was a challenge but somehow, I persevered through it and didn’t allow that experience to phase me.

HMT – You’re certainly paying it forward and you’re not only participating in the future of women in trucking but the overall future of trucking period.  What do you personally get out of being a trainer?

Sheri – I enjoy my one-on-one work with my students.  I enjoy the close-knit relationship I’ve developed with management.  My “Boss” Dustin Horton is great to work with.  I feel I have a voice and I get the opportunity to use it in this role. I’m proud of my students.  One of my past students, Barb Taylor, is my pride and joy and has become a good friend of mine.  In my own way, I’m making a difference.  That matters to me.

HMT – What do you think makes for a good trainer?  What characteristics does a successful trainer possess?

Sheri – First and foremost, patience.  A close second would be the ability to share.  Can you share your truck, your personal space?  You can set some boundaries but it’s important that your student feels welcome and comfortable too.  Perseverance, the ability to communicate and a great sense of humour also helps.  

HMT – Recently, we received a call from a key Hyndman customer who offered they don’t generally call up a trucking company unless to book an order or complain but they felt compelled to call in about you and sing your praises after witnessing you train one of your female students during a stop at their facility.  They were so impressed with your level of professionalism and at how well you communicated with your student that they went out of their way, during a busy day, to call in and share their positive feedback.  Thank you for being such a great ambassador for Hyndman.  Well done! What kind of reaction do you typically get when you’re OTR with one of your female students?

Sheri – Thanks for telling me about that customer.  It nice to know some folks notice what we’re doing out there.  As for reactions, they’re mixed, as you can imagine.  I’ve had my fair share of marriage proposals from strangers at truck stops who seem to think we might be a match made in heaven because I can back up a truck…lol.  I just thank them for the compliment and keep moving and my students know to do the same.

HMT – Sheri, what do you like to do on your downtime?

Sheri – I like to keep things simple, relax and rejuvenate.  I spend time with my boyfriend.  I like to walk my dog. He’s a Blue Heeler named Cash.  A good work/life balance is important to me.  I try not to load up my downtime with appointments.  It’s important for me to clear my mind and just be, if you know what I mean?

HMT – Sure do.  We should do the favourites thing before we wrap up.  So, what is your favourite:

Book – I love audio books.  I like J.D. Ross and Michael Connely murder mysteries.

Music – I like country and lite rock.  My boyfriend loads up my music for the road.  I enjoy Dwight Yoakam and New Dominion to name a couple.

Food – Anything with chicken and cheese. 

Truck Stop – I haven’t been there in awhile but I’d have to say Jubitz on I-5 Exit 307, Portland, Oregon.  They have a good restaurant, lots of parking, a motel, a lounge with a dance floor, free wi-fi, high-speed fueling and a shuttle service to Wal-Mart.  The shuttle service impressed me.  They really cater to truckers.

HMT – Sheri, on behalf of Hyndman, thank you for everything that you do.  We’re very proud of your work and we thank you for your contributions to our success.  In closing, do you have any advice for those who may be considering becoming a driver trainer?

Sheri – Thanks for this opportunity.  Advice?  I’ll say that driver training can be very rewarding but it’s not for everyone.  You can’t force it.  You must do it for the right reasons.  You can earn some good money for it over time but it’s not something you do for the money.  Maybe you’re looking for something more and you’re okay with sharing your truck and it not being all about you, then it may be for you.  If it isn’t, that’s okay too.  

 

 

A Quick Chat with Erin Skomoroh

Erin Skomoroh, Company Driver in truck 642219 chatted with our Hyndman Marketing Team (HMT) on Feb. 13, 2017.

HMT – Erin, congrats on your upcoming 20-year anniversary!  With trucking being such a transient industry, what has kept you at Hyndman and previously Yanke for all these years?

ERIN – I’ve built a good rapport with the people at the Winnipeg Terminal.  Alan, Rod, Seamus and all the guys in the Winnipeg Shop are good people.  I enjoy working with them.  It’s a great group.

HMT -  How did you come into trucking?

ERIN – I previously worked in bodywork and painting.  I got my Class 1 to shunt trucks around the city for the job.  After awhile, the bodywork wasn’t as consistent because of some economic changes concerning the auto industry but I had my Class 1 to lean on.  There seemed to be jobs in trucking.  I took advantage of the opportunity and started my driving career at Motorways Transport.  I stayed there for about three years before finding a home at Yanke, now Hyndman.  

HMT - With your 20+ years at the wheel, you have watched the industry evolve.  What do you see as the biggest change from when you started out?

ERIN - Regulations.  Regulations.  Regulations.  There seems to be a rule or reg for everything today.  Yet, we seemed to get by before.   

HMT – And somehow, you have never had an at-fault accident in all these years.  Congratulations, that’s a very noteworthy achievement and speaks well to your defensive driving skills.

ERIN – Thank you.  I’ve also been lucky.

HMT - Erin, how do you spend your downtime?  Any hobbies or interests?

ERIN - As soon as I’m off the road I’m back to work on my home renovations.  For me, it’s relaxing and a good way to unwind from the road. 

HMT – Staying healthy can be a challenge for drivers, is it something that you think about?

ERIN - It is but I keep it simple.  I avoid the fast food traps on the road.  I prepare my own food and stock up the fridge in my truck.  The road does not control my diet or nutrition, I do.  The job requires a lot of sitting but once I’m home, I’m active and working on my home renovations.  I try to find some balance.

HMT – Now for the “favourites” game.  What is your favourite:m TV Show?           

ERIN - Breaking Bad.  Brain Cranston was outstanding as Walter White in that series.  

Band?    

ERIN - Bad Finger.  Who, you’re saying? They were a British rock band from the ‘60s, early ‘70s.  You’ve probably heard their stuff:  Come and Get It; Without You; Day After Day and Baby Blue are a few.  Breaking Bad fans may remember Baby Blue from the final episode. 

Food?    

 ERIN - Mexican or Chinese

Truck Stop?       

ERIN - My house – never a parking issue, great company, the bathroom is clean and the food is always good!  Plus, the Flying J is within walking distance half a block up the road.

HMT - Erin, thanks for participating in our driver profile.  As we finish up, looking over your past 20+ years in trucking, can you offer any advice to our new drivers just starting out their careers today?

ERIN - My advice would be:  Look after yourself first, then your truck, then the load.  In that order.  It’s a trickle-down philosophy that’s worked very well for me out there.  What I mean by looking after yourself is, eat breakfast, fuel your body with nutrition, don’t just feed a hunger with fast food, get proper rest, have other interests where you can strike a good work/life balance.  Your truck is your home on the road. Respect it.  Keep it clean.  Get in for your services.  With you and your truck in good shape, you’re just better equipped to handle what comes at you concerning the load.  It’s a win, win, win.

HMT – Well said.  Thanks for the chat Erin.  We appreciate your 20 years and wish you continued success on the road and with your home renos.