Meet J.B. Hunt’s Safe Million Mile Truck Drivers – Part 2

Apr 16 2018

We are excited to host numerous safe company drivers at J.B. Hunt’s Million Mile Celebration in Lowell, Ark. from April 23-24. We’ll be celebrating the milestones of our 2 million, 3 million and 4 million mile safe drivers and their dedication to their J.B. Hunt jobs!

We had the opportunity to chat with a few of our million mile safe drivers who are excited to attend the Million Mile Celebration. Read further to learn more about our safe drivers!

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James T.

James or “JT” a 2 Million Mile Intermodal driver from Illinois. He’s been driving with J.B. Hunt for 20 years. 

Where were you when you found out you hit your Two Million Mile mark?
I was actually at a friend’s house, checking the app and finalizing it. I had just gotten back from my parents. They congratulated me. I called my parents and said, “I did it!”

It was one of those things that I didn’t set out to do.

How did it feel to reach your Million Mile mark?
I felt relieved. There was a lot of achievement going into it that I was little upset by, but when the dust cleared on that, I was relieved. I didn’t even set out for my first million miles. It was a relief.

When I was a year out, I was actually a trainer and I stepped down. Everybody thought I would go back to being a trainer. I said, “No, I was a trainer for 10 years, and that part of my life, I think, had come to a close, and it’s time to go into a different phase of life.”

Who was the first person you told?
I got on the app, and it was a husband and wife that were friends of mine, and I turned to them and said, “Whoa. Huh. What. It’s official. I’m two million miles. Two million, eight hundred and something and another.” The guy looked at me and said, “Wow. And we’re the first.” I said, “Yeah, I have to call my parents now. They’re going to be mad because you’re the first and they’re the second.” Dad started laughing and Mom was happy that they couldn’t take it away from me. I said, “Yeah, I know.”

I’m the only one in my family that drives. It was more or less that I was dating a gal at the time when I got into trucking. She said, “Well, you work at a golf course. That’s great, but you’re going to have to do something more.” Schneider went by at that time and said, “Well, I have always wanted to try driving a truck. It doesn’t require a degree.” She said, “Well, that’s a good start.” She had a CDL manual in my hand almost the next day. It’s ironic, because that little relationship didn’t work out very well, but here I am.

I was in a lodge, I think almost the next month in November, I walked up to a fraternity brother of mine and said, “Well, I did it.” He said, “You did what?” I said, “Remember what I told you about when we were still in training for Schneider?” He said, “Oh, you did the two million?” I thought it was all said and done and we got to announce it to the lodge. He stood up and said, “Brother JT, stand up.” I stood up. He said, “I would like to formally recognize Brother JT has accomplished two million miles accident-free in the transportation industry and he’s part of the elite.” I started crying at that point. That was not what I expected.

One of my best friends came up to me after that and said, “You did it.” I said, “Yeah, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you sooner.” He goes, “No, I imagine you have been busy.” I go, “Yeah, I have been busy.” He goes, “What’s next?” I said, “I think I go down to Lowell next. I’m not sure if it’s this year, or when I go down to Lowell next.” He goes, “Wow, I wish I could accomplishment something like that. And I say, “Well, I didn’t set out to do this.”

I get a kick out of how I didn’t want to be in transportation for as long as I have been, but I have learned that success habits breed success habits. If you apply success habits to any industry, sooner or later you will arrive at the highest level. That’s the laws of competition, and it even works in trucking.

What advice do you have for newcomers who are thinking “Wow, that’s a long way out, probably not for me.”
Number one piece of advice, is something that I had to do – Everything you think you might know about trucking, throw it out. The second one is find those who are where you are at and go associate. Always associate up. Have some intestinal fortitude because you’re going to go through some junk because they’re going to give you all kind of hassling about it.

But it’s like anything else. If you want to be a professional swimmer or Olympic swimmer, go to any coach. Look for Bob Bowman because he coached Michael Phelps. You search for the best and search it out, and what they tell you to do, you do it, and that’s what I did. Chris, Don Hen, they were some of my biggest fans. Chris still works for us and he’s going for his three million miles. Michael Bennington is going for his four million, I believe. That’s who I associated with. It is possible, you just can’t hang out with the guys who go, “I can’t do it.” Because you won’t either.

What has driving taught you about yourself? And about life in general?
The biggest lesson that I had to learn, and it was a humbling one, was no matter where God puts you, that’s where he puts you. It might not be where you want to be, but it’s where you have to be. I had a lot of growing up to do. I had a lot of changing to do. I had to heal some emotional wounds from school. I was told that I would never accomplish anything if I didn’t go to college. I hated school, so I went for something that you didn’t have to have a degree for.

Ironically, during my training years, I trained a lot of people who had a lot of education but didn’t know how to apply it. And through street smarts, I had to teach them street smarts to help them apply it. All the books and everything that I have read throughout my life, it was a way of connecting with people and polling them. I had to find out what made the person tick, what brought them into transportation, connect and then we’ll have a poll. If you did something that was out of their vernacular, you had to find out what interested them and see if you know anything about the subject. Connect, poll. Connect, poll. That was something that I learned to do being a trainer, and I almost had Trainer of the Year in Chicago a couple of times.

It’s all about association, and I had to learn that the hard way. When I started out in the trucking, I hung around with people who were badmouthing everything because that’s what I grew up with. At the time, I was reading a Robert Schuller book and he said tough times never last, but tough people do. If you’re hanging around negative, negative stuff will happen, so I had to stop that. I applied that, and by the time I got to J.B. Hunt, I asked Safety, “OK, who are your Million Milers?” And they listed off about five people, and they have been my friends ever since. That’s being humble. I was not a humble person and that was hard.

What do you want readers (corporate and the general public) to know about truck drivers?
We’re people just like you. You have a bad element in every industry that makes everybody look bad. Don’t judge the whole by a few. I have met people from all walks of life. As a trainer, I met people from all countries. The best part about it was when you hear negative stuff about a country, you meet somebody from that country and they become your friend, and you can throw everything else out.

Why do you drive with J.B. Hunt?
When I first heard about J.B Hunt back in 1992, I was scared to death of it. I didn’t like the speed limit, I didn’t want to be harassed. When they announced 40 cents per mile, Dad said, “Go, try them.” I said, “It’s smoke and mirrors, Dad. Transportation is lying and thieving.” He said, “Try it. They have got that 40 cents per mile. Try it. Humble yourself a little bit, pretend you don’t know everything, and try it.” I said, “It’s smoke and mirrors, but I’ll do it.”

I got into orientation, and I think Paul Richardson, who was in safety at the time, he called me a jerk. I was so negative. He goes, “Your first pay check is going to blow you out of the water.” I’m like, “Yeah, right, whatever.” And then, wow, my first pay check with this company changed my mind.

I actually went up to Paul and said, “I’m sorry I was so negative in class.” He was, “I don’t think negative quite covers it.” I go, “I’m sorry.” And he goes, “Why?’ And I said, “Truck driving is lying and thieving. It’s two logbooks to barely make a living. It’s swearing, bad language, bad body odor, a 300-pound guy that doesn’t know how to speak English correctly. That’s transportation. That’s what I was exposed to before I got here.” And he has a professionalism. He walked the walk and he can back it up and that’s impressive.

He was like, “Not everybody comes to me and apologizes, so apology accepted.” I actually became friends with a lot of the people in safety. I think back and think, “Man, I was a jerk.” I had to go through that, I guess. I’m still a jerk on some days.

The greatest shift in my life was to change my mind on that. I love it when somebody can put enough information in front of me to change my mind on something. I love that…

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Carl Z. 

Carl Z cropped

Carl is a dedicated 2 Million Mile truck driver from Texas and has been driving with J.B. Hunt for nearly 23 years!

Where were you when you found out you hit your 2 Million Mile mark?
I was coming in to get my pick-up number, and I asked where about I was on the two million miles, and he pulled it up, and he said, ‘I think we’re about there.’

So, you knew you were pretty close?
Yeah, I knew I was close in March, and it was April, so I just asked how close we were and said we are already there. 

Yeah, when I found out I had my one million miles, they just walked in and shook my hand. I was confused, and he said I was a one million mile driver.

Did you know you were even close?
No, I didn’t even know I was close to one million miles because before I got the one million, I had three preventable accidents.  It took quite awhile to get that one.

So, would you say your first million was a bigger deal then your second million?
Yeah, it took 11 years and nine months to get it.  And 10 years to get my two million.   

How did it feel to reach your 2 Million Mile mark?
I was excited. Glad to have something to show for the time I put in.

Who was the first person you told?
One of my fellow drivers that I talk to all the time. 

Did you call your family after that?
I didn’t call right after that, I waited until I got home then I told them.  They don’t understand what one million miles or two million miles for drivers mean.

What advice do you have for newcomers who are thinking “Wow, that’s a long way out, probably not for me.”
Well, I just tell them to never get in a hurry. Drive a truck like a truck not a sports car and you’ll have a good chance of making it to a million miles, but of course you gotta be committed to wanting to stay driving a truck for the rest of your life to get it. I see a lot of drivers get in a hurry and make mistakes.

What has driving taught you about yourself? And about life in general?
It’s definitely taught me how to be a better driver and things to look for that I don’t look for when I’m driving. Patience.

What do you want readers (corporate and the general public) to know about truck drivers?
Well, one thing the public would need to know is, I catch a lot of people passing me on the right and a lot of them don’t know you can’t see them.  I see that all the time.  Also, how hard it is to get a million safe miles. My family isn’t into truck driving, but I got a father who used to be a truck driver. Well, he used to be a truck driver since I was a little baby.  I got started because of him.

Why do you drive with J.B. Hunt?
At the time, they had a driving school- them and Schneider. And I went to school (1995) in Alexandria, Louisiana and that’s how I got started. I decided to stay. In 1996, they did away with that driving school and then they gave all drivers a big raise, 20 to 30 cents, which back then for the kind of truck driving work we did was good pay, so I decided to stay. And I was able to save up enough money in three years and four months to buy myself a house, but I had no family to support back then. I lived with my brother and we paid both half of the utility bills and stuff and it was real cheap for us to live, so I was able to save up money to do stuff with. And making 33 cents per mile, which was good pay, I saved up a good amount of money because I didn’t have any bills to pay.

What would you say you’re most proud of?
For one thing, I’ve never had a job for 22 and a half years, and I’ve been able to manage to keep this one and actually make it to two million miles.

On my 30th birthday, my trainer took me to Denny’s and bought me a steak dinner.  By the time I was 30, I was out on the road with my first trainer. 

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Tony W. 

Tony is a dedicated 3 Million Mile driver from Texas and has been driving with J.B. Hunt for nearly 26 years!

Where were you when you found out you hit your Million Mile mark?
I think I was at the Odessa yard, out there at the Family Dollar DCS yard. They told me there in the office. 

How did it feel to reach your Million Mile mark?
One million miles was exciting and the two was more like, good money there. Yeah, it was still great. I felt accomplished. Three million, I don’t know if I’ll go for four or not. I may retire by then.

Three is better than two, that’s for sure. So, three is more exciting than two.

Who was the first person you told?
I think it was probably Andrew Clark. He was the operations manager at the Family Dollar. Now he’s in safety as a supervisor in the Dallas area.

What advice do you have for newcomers who are thinking “Wow, that’s a long way out, probably not for me.”
J.B. Hunt’s got a lot to offer, you know? A lot of DCS. Just keep going one mile at a time. You got that phone app and you can keep up with how many miles you got. You can check it as you get closer. One mile at a time. Don’t even think about it, just drive. Just do your job and don’t even think about it until you realize, hey, I got 100,000, I got 500,000. If I keep this up in four or five years, I could get one million.

What has driving taught you about yourself? And about life in general?
It teaches me that I’m responsible for this truck and trailer. This is my money maker. If I take care of my truck and trailer, do my pre-trip and post trip, make sure it’s in good and great condition, I’m making money every day.  It’s taught me to respect my driving skills and keep myself calm and not to get mad. I’m going to get there one day. I might be 30 minutes late, but I’ll get to the customer.

Maybe when I do retire, maybe I want to be a driver instructor. New kids coming out of school, you know, maybe a high school driver instructor. Teach them about truck driving and how to deal with them. When I was a kid, I didn’t think about truck driving. I just pass them and go on down the road and don’t worry about it. I didn’t know what a blind side was and all this stuff, getting in their blind spot.

I’m a better person than I was when I first started J.B. Hunt. When I’m driving a big rig and have more responsibility, and you mature as a person. 

What do you want readers (corporate and the general public) to know about truck drivers?
We are human. We are not robots. We do our best to drive and stay on schedule.

We want you to understand the drivers’ hours of service. When hours of service first went into effect, with 14 hours of service, many dispatchers didn’t know how it actually worked. I start my day at 6 a.m. in the morning and they want me to deliver a load at nine o’clock at night, ya know? That’s 15 hours later and that’s messing with my 14 hours work.

I’d like people to understand how the truck operates. Especially young drivers getting their license, have them talk to a truck driver. Or have a truck driver go through a driving school and teach them a little bit about truck driving. They can understand what a truck driver is… I would like to have a video, when you are getting your driver’s license there, while you are standing in line waiting there getting your driver’s license, having some kind of video showing a truck driver driving down the road, giving them an idea of how trucks are… get people out here to understand truck driving.

Why do you drive with J.B. Hunt?
I always wanted to drive a truck when I was young. I’d daydream a lot in school and I had a chance. I started off the old way. Nobody in my family drove a truck. My step father did it for a couple years and got promoted and worked for a big oil field company … I started off working at a warehouse. They had trucks there, so I knew I could learn. When we would have a slow day, I could probably learn how to drive a truck there and sure enough, that’s what happened. I started driving for Ashley’s Furniture. That was more of a small truck and then my last job, before I came to J.B. Hunt, was a gasoline truck… then I thought, you know, I’m divorced, the kids are taken care of, I’m going to go over the road. I’m gonna try it and J.B. Hunt was the first to give me a chance. When I went in to talk to someone, his name was Frank, he’s no longer with us, he told me, you need to go to truck driving school and all that. And I said that’s right, so I do that. I was on four weeks later and I was trained for five weeks and it’s 26 years that I’ve been by myself.

Other comments:
It’s a great company. They treat me well and I do my job the best that I can, like it’s my own vehicle. Drive safe and save the company money.

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Mike K.

Mike is a dedication 2 Million Mile driver from Texas and has been with J.B. Hunt for nearly 19 years!

Where were you when you found out you hit your Million Mile mark?
I was inside the office talking to the boss and he said, ‘You’re 1,000 miles from hitting your two million miles,’ and I said, ‘What did you tell me that for?  Now you put the stress level on me.’  But I think I was coming out of Dallas when I hit my two million miles. 

How did it feel to reach your Million Mile mark?
It was overwhelming. I got a little teary-eyed. I said, ‘Man, I did it.’  I knew I did it and the dispatcher went ‘You did it, man.’  I said ‘Yeah, I know.’  Then I told my wife and I called her, it was pretty exciting. 

Who was the first person you told?
My wife was the first person. She said, ‘I’m so proud of you!’ You know the first million was pretty exciting and the second million, she had a big smile on her face and gave me a big hug when I got home. 

What advice do you have for newcomers who are thinking “Wow, that’s a long way out, probably not for me.”
A lot of them are young. Just stay with it. Just keep a good positive attitude and it’ll come. I can’t believe I’ve been after it almost 20 years.  It’s gone by quick.  We go through good and bad out there. My wife kept me here, she did.  It got slow about my third year, and I thought, I can’t do this.  Just stick it out and it got better. J.B. Hunt is a good company. Excellent maintenance, that’s what I like.

What has driving taught you about yourself? And about life in general?
Well, I know trucks move America. Without trucks, we don’t make it. I’m very safety conscious. I got grandkids, myself. Just never get in a hurry. You’re operating a monster. Patience- don’t get in a hurry. At times we get hung up, but you just got to be patient.

What do you want readers (corporate and the general public) to know about truck drivers?
We’re all human beings. People are so impatient with truck drivers out here. Having dispatchers ride with the drivers to show them exactly what we are going through out here, especially dealing with Budweiser, you better have patience over there. It’s always busy and they’re very safety conscious inside that plant and don’t screw up or they’ll throw you out of the plant. Once you are out of that plant, you aren’t going back in and you are out of a job. You better know what you’re doing, better have some patience. They are very nice people and they know we’re loaded, too.

Why do you drive with J.B. Hunt?
Because I knew it was a good company. One of the drivers I worked with in the prison said, ‘Why don’t you go drive with J.B. Hunt?’  I said, ‘Aww man, they wouldn’t hire me.’  He said, ‘You are a good driver, go apply with them.’  And I did, and I got on. But it was a lot tighter with driving experience when I came over here. When I hired on, it was three to five years of experience. They knew I had the experience. 

Maintenance department is unreal. They could build a truck. I wish I could do something for them, like bring donuts. That’s how good they are. Great shop! They keep us going, the diesel truck. They’re the unsung hero.

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Kevin R.

Kevin is a dedicated 2 Million Mile driver from New Jersey and has been driving with J.B. Hunt for 27 years.

Where were you when you found out you hit your Million Mile mark?
At my current account, C&S Wholesale, updating my ETA. The DRIVE app actually told me first.

How did it feel to reach your Million Mile mark?
Second million was basically a goal I wanted to get done because I planned on doing something once I hit the two million – transferring to an office – but I’m still driving a truck. I’m going to stick out for another… well, right now I got my 21 years safe driving.  When I hit 25, I’m going to decide that part. I’m thinking of looking at a safety position or something like that. 

Who was the first person you told?
That’s a hard question, because on the J.B. Hunt work group, I posted a message there and a Facebook message to my family and stuff, so basically, over a hundred people found out.

What advice do you have for newcomers who are thinking “Wow, that’s a long way out, probably not for me.”
I guess my only advice is drive your first mile like your last mile. Use the Smith System to the best of your ability, and above all, take your time. There’s no rushing involved.

What has driving taught you about yourself? And about life in general?
As far as the company goes, the company has changed quite a lot since I first started. That’s for sure. And as far as the people and the public out there, some pay attention to the surroundings, and others are oblivious to what’s going on around them.  

What do you want readers (corporate and the general public) to know about truck drivers?
As far as industry goes, I guess we all have a job to play. We help move America, feed America, clothe America, no matter what division, what type of job you do. No matter what position you do, we’re all out there for one thing only and that’s to serve the public. Drivers like the freedom of the room and not being stuck to the desk, basically.

Why do you drive with J.B. Hunt?
Plain and simple. It’s the best transportation company in the world. By far, in my opinion.

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Interested in driving with J.B. Hunt and reaching millions of safe miles? Call 1-877-791-9458 to learn more about our regionalover the road and local truck driving jobs or fill out our short form and we’ll contact you.

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