Aces & Freights - 2017 Q2

  Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter written/edited by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore regarding the trucking lifestyle. Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken at kmoore@maverickusa.com. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and any stories you may have to share, too!

Financially Healthy Life Edition

Most of us drive to earn money to support ourselves and our families. We’re out on the road to make sure there’s a roof over our heads and food in the refrigerator when we get there. I’ve honestly only met two people who drove that did not do so to support themselves, but did it for the sole enjoyment and education of driving and experiencing the wondrous sights this country has to offer. The rest of us get to do that as well, but the paycheck that accompanies it is a big deal, too. This edition of A&F is about making money as a driver and how best to do that at Maverick.

The Basics

It may seem strange, but I’ve learned more about managing a truck and its business since coming off the road than I did while driving. A good bit of it is because I now have the ability to talk to our best drivers to see what they do. Amazingly, even after more than 5 years with Maverick (evenly split between driving and not driving) and three and a half years driving elsewhere, I’m still learning the tricks of the trade on how to make better money as a driver.

The best drivers do three things well. They plan well. They communicate well. They make friends well.

Planning is everything.” How many times have you heard that? Well, it’s not. (I did just list two other things above, right?) I will say, however, that it’s not far off. In training, we teach you the basics of planning out your day. Estimate 50 miles/hour driving, include time for your 30 minute break, 10 hour break, load checks, lunch, add a “cushion” in case something like a traffic jam happens and where you will likely park. We don’t get into much more than that during training time because you have to have the basics down in order to do this job. Also, there’s so much in this early stage to remember and so much going on already it’s overwhelming. I know because I’ve been there.

One of the biggest issues in planning is parking. As many of you already know, parking is becoming more and more of a hassle. It’s said that the average driver spends about 45 minutes looking for parking every day. This is more or less true depending on where in the country you are and what time you’re there. You could save yourself a lot of time by starting your day earlier and finishing earlier, though this doesn’t always work with the ever-changing schedule drivers are subjected to. When you plan for parking, figure out several places along the route you’ll be on where you might be able to park. Find a best case scenario for if you have a clear, easy day of driving, a worst case scenario in case you don’t, and a location or two between. You can check how much parking is at each location using the Trucker Path app and even check the parking history of each location to gauge if there’s likely to be parking at that location at the time you’d probably get there. If your choice will not likely have parking available when you get there, you’ll save time by choosing somewhere else. As a general rule of thumb, however, parking in the Northeast and in cities is harder to come by and fills up earlier. In the West and Midwest there are a lot of really large truck stops and it’s easier to get parking later.

I would do a lot of this planning while waiting to get loaded or unloaded. Even if I don’t know where I’m going after I unload, I would pick two possible directions and then mark different spots on the map where I could park depending on when I might finish loading. For example, say it’s noon and I know my clock runs out at 5pm. If the soonest time I estimate being loaded, tarped, and secured is at 2pm, I have about a 150 mile radius to plan out (3 hours left at 50 miles per hour). Once I figured this for 2 possible routes that I might be on, I would then do the same calculations but estimating only two hours left to drive. This way, with a couple possibilities “preplanned”, I can leave a little sooner, park a little sooner, and start up a little sooner the next day. Every little bit helps. I’ve arrived at the end of a work day on a Friday at a receiver before though the load wasn’t due until Monday due to these techniques. I was then able to get another load that delivered Monday, meaning I made several hundred dollars more than I would have had I not figured out how to save 15 minutes here and there.

Communication is huge. Don’t be afraid to ask your FM if he/she knows where you may be going when you’re done unloading. Even though you may not have a preplan sent to you, it’s possible that there’s a “soft” plan (a work assignment that isn’t set in stone and depends on when you finish) set on you. If there is a soft plan on you then it can make your planning a little easier.

Communication is a big deal! Macro 4’s! Send in your ETA after you plan your trip and then update your FM’s with a new ETA anytime something changes, for good or bad. If you arrive 4 hours earlier than your ETA, you’ve told logistics to expect you there at a different, much later time, so their plan for you revolves around that later time. Updating your arrival time frequently, and I’ve done the math, can improve how much an average driver makes by $3,500 per year. Seriously. That doesn’t even include the uptick you’ll receive in PFP bonuses associated with a higher MPD. As your communication improves, that number will continue to climb.

Make Friends with the customers, especially at the locations you go to frequently. Shippers and receivers will prioritize the people they like. It’s human nature, so unless there’s a strict appointment time, there’s a good chance your friends will get you in and out as fast as they can, which can potentially save you hours almost every time you’re there. Macro 4’s! Send in your ETA after you plan your trip and then update your FM’s with a new ETA anytime something changes, for good or bad. If you arrive 4 hours earlier than your ETA, you’ve told logistics to expect you there at a different, much later time, so their plan for you revolves around that later time. Updating your arrival time frequently, and I’ve done the math, can improve how much an average driver makes by $3,500 per year. Seriously. That doesn’t even include the uptick you’ll receive in PFP bonuses associated with a higher MPD. As your communication improves, that number will continue to climb.

I’ve noticed fairly often that when shippers or receivers don’t speak very much English, that drivers who don’t speak their language have a tough time relating and therefore don’t try to get along with them. Instead, download Duolingo, an easy to use foreign language teaching app, and learn a few phrases. Just the attempt, most times, is enough to get you on their good sides and you’ll be brought in ahead of a driver standing next to you who didn’t try. I’ve done it more times than you’d imagine in both Spanish and French.

Planning, Communicating, and Befriending will all go far into putting more of your available hours behind the wheel. If you’re busy looking for parking, waiting on a load when you may not have needed to, and sitting watching other drivers get loaded and unloaded before you, you’re not earning as much as you could. A little effort in these areas could raise your pay the equivalent of about six paychecks per year!

Rock Your PFP

Maverick’s Pay for Performance program is built to reward drivers for making the extra effort, for being safe, for taking care of the truck, for being available, and for doing things the Maverick Way. Compared to any of the other performance incentive pay systems out there that I’ve seen, Maverick’s PFP pays out the most and is also the most forgiving for drivers who are doing well in most categories but not all. Many companies, for example, give out a fuel bonus. This is something Maverick did as well before going to PFP. The fuel bonus system motivates a small number of people to improve, usually those who are already doing well in that category. Because PFP is based on a concept of rewarding drivers for being the “whole package”, or well-rounded in other words, it encourages drivers to improve in all areas. Improving in all areas allows Maverick to make the pay for PFP greater than just the pay a fuel bonus could offer. This article will show you how to pop your PFP score up off the charts and improve your pay as a result.

The first thing you should realize is that Maverick wants you to succeed. Its business model is based on its drivers’ successes, not their failures. It has to be a win-win for both company and driver for Maverick to thrive. That probably sounds like propaganda, but here’s how I know it’s not a bunch of bologna. First, about 80% of our fleet gets PFP to some degree each quarter. Second, Maverick is constantly working on showing drivers how to improve their fuel mileage and trip planning, two of the biggest categories for PFP. And third, there are bonus points built into the PFP calculations. If you take advantage of them, you can send your score off the charts. Check out the Operations Newsletter with the PFP Ranks for the top drivers. 517 drivers received the highest payout. That’s about 40% of the drivers eligible for PFP, which is about half of the total number of drivers getting PFP, getting top pay. Also, if you notice on the Operations Newsletter, the top driver scored 141 points…out of a 100 point system. What does that tell you? That the PFP model and all of the extra points built into it is made for drivers to succeed.

Now that we know this, how do we take advantage of it? We start by understanding how each category is calculated and move on from there.

MPD—Miles per day takes the average number of miles you run in per week and divides that number by 5 work days. There are bonus points worked into this calculation which rewards drivers who drive for more than 5 days per week. Quite a few Glass and TCD drivers are found toward the very top of the PFP scores because they are out, on average, three weeks at a time. That means that they are getting four extra drive days every three weeks which boosts up their MPD.

MPG—Miles per gallon is calculated by taking the total Hub miles from the truck during the quarter and dividing by the number of gallons of fuel purchased in the quarter. A driver has control of approximately 35% of the fuel efficiency of a truck, or around 2.5-2.8 MPG. Starting a truck slowly every time it accelerates can save upwards of 1 MPG. Using the cruise control can save another .4-.5 MPG. Not pressing down on the accelerator while on cruise control (which many drivers do when the truck’s OnGuard system kicks in as the truck approaches a slower vehicle, or when the truck slows down going up a hill) will save a driver another .4-.5 MPG. The difference between getting 0 points for MPG and getting 15 points for MPG is around .5 miles per gallon. If a driver makes just a few changes, his/her PFP score can jump 3-4 levels, a difference of about $55-90 more per week added onto the average range of paychecks.

Idle %--Generally, drivers with good fuel mileage have low Idle %. Part of the reason for this is idling the truck uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel per hour and doesn’t add to his/her mileage. Maverick is serious about reducing fuel costs and improving its carbon footprint, and to show this Maverick offers points for overall fuel efficiency and a specific aspect of fuel efficiency. This category is a lot like getting free points.

There’s a little more to it than that, but those three categories are where the bulk of the points lie. It’s possible to get the 95 points required for the top PFP payout with just these three areas. The rest of PFP is about the main aspects of the Maverick culture: doing things the right way and being professional. Understanding the system helps to change the game. Use this information to help make PFP work for you.

Living Good on the Road

…written by Maverick Driver Neil Ottavi

Have you ever wished you could have stopped for a shower or already had a shower today but wanted to freshen up before going to bed? If so, here’s a tip for you. For a hot bath you will need a 700 watt microwave, a container (preferably with a lid) that will fit into the microwave, lots of washcloths, water, and “Cleanlife” rinse free body wash, which you can get from Amazon delivered with free shipping for around $36 to $50. It will last you about 8 to 10 months, maybe more.

Fill the container to about 1/3 full of water, add 1 to 2 ounces of body wash and warm it all up in the microwave for 3 to 5 minutes. Heating the water is optional in the summer months obviously, but at this point you’re ready to take a bath. Simply dip only clean washcloths into your heated water, wring out excess water, wash up, then bag the used washcloths for laundry. This way you will smell powder fresh when done.

P.S. Works to degrease hair, too…I’ve tried shampoo and it works about the same, although it’s best with short hair.

Trainer Spotlight: Trainer of the Quarter, Shawn McLeod

  • With Maverick since February, 2015
  • Trainer since April 2016
  • Drives in GPT Division
  • What do you like best about Training?
    • I was an instructor in the Marine Corp for a number of years. I like taking students and teaching them new things, and I like being able to put safe drivers out on the road.
  • What’s your approach in helping a student who is having trouble?
    • I believe that when they come to me it’s more on a one on one level. I need to figure out how that student needs to be taught. I have multiple ways to teach different students different things. If they’re more a hands on or book-and-read type person, it’s a matter of just figuring out how that student needs to be taught. If you can figure that out you can help them with anything. And practice, practice, practice!
  • How does you get to know your students?
    • By talking to them. I like to know about their families, where they’re raised. You learn something new from everybody. I just ask them about themselves and tell them about myself to put that out there first. If you can find a commonality, that really breaks the ice and builds that trust with your student. Once you build that trust, the student will learn better. I just try to make myself approachable.
  • Why do you drive?
    • I enjoy it. I’ve been all over the world in the Marine Corp. Originally when I started driving, it was to see the US. It’s also about the freedom. I’m not a clock-puncher, not really a desk person. I just like driving an 18-wheeler. My dad drove an 18-wheeler, too. I just enjoy driving.
  • What hobbies do you enjoy?
    • I hate to be the cliché country boy, but I shoot and fish with my daughters. I like to be outdoors as much as possible. I play golf and try to spend time with my kids on the weekends when I get home.
  • Do you do any of them on the road?
    • When I was over the road, I carried a fishing rod on the truck. When it comes to hobbies on the road, you need to be out of the truck as much as possible. I like to walk a lot and I’ve lost about 40 pounds in the last 6 months. I have a Fitbit and if I don’t have the number of steps by the end of the day I gotta do them at night! We do a lot of sitting so you gotta make it up somehow.

Thanks, Shawn! We appreciate your hard work and your dedication to put safer drivers on the road!

Shawn was Maverick’s Q1 Trainer of the Quarter in 2017.

Suggested Apps

Of course I have to promote our own app! The Drive Maverick app has a lot of great features such as easy access to your PFP scores, the Driver Portal and all of its content (including the new Mav411 News Board), scanning your bills of lading, a direct way to enter your driver referrals, the weather, the Employee Portal (which can give you access to previous Aces & Freights newsletters so you can read them anywhere!), and you can get your work assignments and reply to messages your Fleet Mangers send you! Waiting in your truck for news is a thing of the past. FYI, Drive Maverick is compatible with the Apple Watch and Samsung Gear, so you can even get your work assignment sent directly to your wrist! This app will be able to provide more and more as time goes on so join 1,200+ other Mavericks and download it today!

Weigh My Truck by CAT Scale is the best thing for drivers since…Maverick! No longer will you be forced to find parking for your truck, wait in line, and spend more time telling the attendant the truck’s and trailer’s info just to get your weight ticket. This app will allow you to weigh your truck on any CAT Scale, not just the ones where we fuel, and receive your weight ticket in your email. Potentially, you could save better than 90 minutes of time per week! Instructions on how to register and use Weigh My Truck are in MMS.

Tony Russo – Temp Control, OTR

1). When facing a hard back try to walk it through in your mind first.

2. Never blindside back if at all possible.

3). Practice backing whenever you have a chance. Backing is a perishable skill. An amateur practices until they get it and a professional practices until they can’t get it wrong.

4). Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t let other drivers rush you. Take your time!

5.) GET OUT AND LOOK!

Safety Awards Quarter 1, 2017

Messages from Maintenance

Macro 36 vs Macro 39

If you are on the road (not at or close to a Maverick shop) and need assistance, use Macro 36. Macro 36 will get you in touch with Fleetnet Services. Macro 39 is used when you are at or near a Maverick shop to report maintenance needed. Macro 39 should be sent in, then report to the shop upon arrival at location. You may also contact your Maintenance Coordinator for assistance. Please do not send in both a Macro 36 and Macro 39 at the same time. Macro 36 should not be used if you are at or close to a Maverick shop. Sending in a Macro 36 or a Macro 39 is not required for you to report a Macro 63 (Breakdown Pay Request). Any questions, please get with your Fleet Manager or Maintenance Coordinator.

NLR Shop Now Open 24/7!

If you have a story about life on the road that you’d like to tell or if you have some tips to help other drivers be more efficient or to enjoy life OTR a little more, please contact kmoore@maverickusa.com.

New Dedicated Driver of the Quarter/Year Program

  Friday, June 9, 2017

Maverick Transportation is excited to announce a new recognition program for our Dedicated drivers of the fleet – the Dedicated Driver of the Quarter/Dedicated Driver of the Year program!

Similar to our Driver of the Month/Year program, this program will recognize two Dedicated Drivers of the Quarter (DDQ) who have met exceptional safety and professional qualifications that adhere to multiple facets of the Maverick Way.

The submissions process begins with a nomination by Account Managers. Nominations are then forwarded to Operations Managers, and then finally to the DDQ committee. Two DDQs will be elected per quarter.

We are happy to present our first two DDQ’s for the first quarter – John “Mike” Panter from the HTN division out of Columbia, TN, and George Breedlove from WNA out of Natchitoches, LA.

A few words from their fleet managers:

“Mike Panter is an example of what a dedicated driver should be. Since joining the Columbia Home Depot fleet, he has been one of my most professional drivers. His willingness to work hard and help out with anything that Maverick or the Home Depot staff needs with no questions asked makes him a very worthy candidate for DDQ. Mike takes care of our equipment as if it is his own. Mike’s on time percentage, OOR, MPG and Idle time are consistently on the top of the PFP list.” (Account Manager Sean Barnett)

“George is a standup guy every time he gets in the truck. George is always eager to work hard and loves being on the road. George has volunteered to have supplies shipped to his house so that other drivers can get things they may need. He’s such a great example of being a team player and is such a selfless person. (Account Manager Brady Teer)

Both Mike and George (and future DDQs) will be presented with plaques, Black Hats, jacket and bags by a representative from the DDQ recognition team. Be on the lookout on our Facebook page in the upcoming weeks!

The eight Drivers of the Quarter will also be eligible for Dedicated Driver of the Year (DDY). The DDY will be chosen from the DDQ committee and will also be recognized during the OTR Driver of the Year Banquet in January. He or she will also attend the fourth quarter DAC meeting in December.

We look forward to the future of the Dedicated Driver of the Quarter/Year program! The Dedicated fleet has an exceptional pool of qualified drivers and we’re excited to announce upcoming DDQs.

Congratulations again, Mike and George!

DOCUMENTARY FILM “BE PREPARED TO STOP” SHOWS IMPACT OF FAILING U.S. INFRASTRUCTURE ON LIVES OF AMERICANS AND ECONOMY

  Thursday, April 6, 2017

America’s “check engine light” is on and problems with U.S. Interstate Highway System will bring country to a standstill if not addressed quickly, according to film that debuts on Amazon and iTunes

If roads, bridges and other parts of the U.S. infrastructure continue to erode at the current rate and trucks are no longer able to safely pass, within only five days our lives would come to a complete halt. The result would be a crippling depletion of food, drinking water, medicine, fuel and other daily necessities. Airports would close, trash would pile up, industrial production would stop, public transit would end and the country would come to a standstill. The reality of this debilitating scenario is examined in “Be Prepared to Stop,” a documentary film about the failing U.S. Interstate Highway System.

“Be Prepared to Stop” debuts on Amazon April 6 and will be released on iTunes later in the month. More information and a preview are available at BePreparedToStop.org.

“Be Prepared to Stop” is a documentary about our absolute dependence on infrastructure, specifically the Interstate Highway System. We rely on those roads and the big rigs rolling down them to supply us with just about everything we use every day. But this round-the-clock lifeline has become so entrenched in our daily routines we don’t even notice it anymore. Now that neglect is reaching a crisis point. Roads and bridges are failing, safety concerns are mounting, skilled drivers are retiring and government action is at a standstill. “Be Prepared to Stop” raises awareness about the impact of this impending breakdown and how it will obstruct the U.S. economy and adversely affect the daily lives of all Americans.

“My grandfather was a truck driver and taught me to respect the professionals driving the rigs hauling everything we rely upon for our way of life,” said Jennifer Clymer, co-director and executive producer of the film. “I am alarmed about the poor state of our highway system and the lack of understanding about how dependent we are on it. I am hoping this film sheds a light on this problem and is a wake-up call that if action is not taken soon there will be significant consequences.”

Co-director and producer Marijane Miller adds, “Our country’s check-engine light has been lit up for years and if something is not done soon we’ll be stuck. Everyone knows the cost of replacing your transmission is much higher than maintaining the one you have. We need to fix this engine that keeps our country running before it’s too late.”

A few facts:

  • 32 percent of America’s major roads are in poor or mediocre condition and 25 percent of bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. $146 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis over the next 20 years to significantly improve conditions.
  • 42 percent of America’s major urban highways are congested, costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually.
  • The trucking industry hauls 10.49 billion tons of freight every year, or 70.1 percent of total U.S. freight tonnage. Rail is next, moving 13.8 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage.
  • All goods carried by ship, airplane or train reach their destination by truck. More than 80 percent of U.S. communities depend solely on trucking for delivery of their goods and commodities.
  • One out of every 14 jobs in the United States is created or directly affected by the trucking industry.
  • 54 million tons of freight move across the nation every day. By 2040 that will increase more than 40 percent.

“Be Prepared to Stop” was produced by Los Angeles-based Delaware Park Productions, Inc. More information is available at BePreparedToStop.org, and on social media @bptsdoc (Twitter/Instagram) and /bepreparedtostop (Facebook). Digital assets and full press materials for editorial use can be downloaded at HonigCompany.com/media. Media can request a full copy of the film by emailing press@honigllc.com.

Statement on Automated Vehicle Technologies

  Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Maverick Transportation in conjunction with The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, also known as the Trucking Alliance, supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies that enable commercial drivers to utilize highly automated driving systems, enhancing their safety and security. The Trucking Alliance also supports the use of these technologies to achieve safety performance levels that rival commercial airlines and support other initiatives that focus on drivers and their safety, such as the following:

  • supports advanced driver assisted technologies in commercial vehicles rather than commercial vehicles that rely solely on full automation
  • believes that commercial drivers are an indispensable asset to the safe operation of commercial vehicles
  • maintains the principle that commercial drivers are necessary to improve the safety and security of the general public
  • believes that commercial drivers are integral to supply chain accountability, as well as managing unforeseen weather events, emergencies, detours, vehicle conditions, computer software programs, cybersecurity disruptions, cargo security, and in providing efficient customer services

Aces & Freights

  Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter, written by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore, regarding the trucking lifestyle.

Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken at kmoore@maverickusa.com. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and any stories you may have to share, too!

Mentally Healthy Life Edition

In order to drive a truck as safely as we can, we need to be in the right mindset. Namely, we need to be focused. This can sometimes be a monumental task! Truck drivers need to make, on average, 160 decisions per minute. Does that number decrease because of issues at home? Does it decrease if you’ve recently lost someone? How about if you didn’t sleep well? No, of course it doesn’t. Now, does your ability to process 160 decisions per minute decrease because of those things? Absolutely. In this edition of Aces & Freights, I’m going to delve into the too often stigmatized subject of our mental health and hopefully provide some resources that can help to improve our ability to focus on the road.

Physical Aspects of Mental Health

The best thing we can do to keep ourselves in good mental health is to take care of ourselves physically. Making the right decisions in what to eat, eating often, and getting physical exercise aren’t just good things to keep our hearts healthy. These same things are paramount to keeping the mind healthy enough to deal with the demanding tasks we force it to do day after day on the road.

Serotonin is a hormone that regulates almost everything important to keeping a focused mind. Sleep, mood, and appetite are all heavily influenced by serotonin and all three of those affect your driving either positively or negatively. What most people don’t realize is that 95% of our serotonin production comes from our stomachs and that our gastrointestinal tracts are lined with neurons that tell the brain what’s coming in. Simply put, if the food is something the body likes, the brain receives those signals and we’re happier because the brain rewards us with a proper amount of serotonin. If the food that we’re digesting is full of refined sugars, we can be put into an awful mood because the brain receives the signals that tell it we’re not getting what we need and it decides to alter our serotonin levels.

This can lead to a downward spiral for anyone, but especially for drivers. We tend to have really long days of work, and if our serotonin is off, we can have trouble sleeping, which will make us even more tired at the end of the day. If we’re even more tired, we’re a lot less likely to prepare our own foods and a lot more likely to eat something fast and bad for us. What does this lead to? More nights of bad sleep (which is hard enough to get when a lot of drivers first start off due to the facts that they’re in a strange environment with sounds they’re not used to and there’s a lot of stress getting used to being on their own) and more days of bad focus…This is absolutely a safety concern, but it can also affect how much money you earn. When you lose focus, you’re more likely to make a mistake while driving, which hopefully is a small mistake, but it still may cost you points on your PFP. If I average 2100 miles per week and I have a .02/mile bonus, that’s potentially jeopardizing about $550 per business quarter because I didn’t eat better. That’s junk! Also, if I’m in a bad mood because I didn’t eat well, all the little issues I encounter on the road suddenly seem like they are big issues, and not to mention that the bad serotonin levels can make me more impulsive making me more likely to quit, which could cost me a lot of money.

The “downward spiral” I described above has happened to all of us at some point, but being aware of why it happens can help us prevent it from happening again. I’ve never been one to tell anyone how to eat, but we all know that natural foods tend to make us feel better. Try replacing one or two refined foods that you regularly eat with something a little better; maybe drop potato chips or another processed snack for sunflower seeds. Just making small changes here and there will increase the likelihood of you keeping that change. Give it a month and see how much of a difference that makes in how you feel…and how you drive!

Depression OTR

Nationally, about 6.7% of the total U.S. population suffer from depression. The number for truck drivers is in the area of 200-300% higher than that. No doubt that reduced personal contact and time with support groups such as friends and family as well as improper nutrition and exercise (as was stated in the previous article) significantly contribute to this increase. Unfortunately, depression is a bit of a touchy topic because of the stigma we associate with it. There’s a thought that if I am depressed, there’s something wrong with me and I’d just sound weak if I talked with someone about it. This is especially true in the trucking industry as almost every image the industry pushes of a truck driver is of a “tough” looking man. Large men with arms crossed and stern, stoic unshaven faces cover almost every advertisement for trucking companies. This unrealistic image reinforces the fact that truck drivers are regular, everyday people who deal with most of their issues alone over the road.

For Truck Drivers, 15-20% suffer from Depression

Now, the national numbers are one thing, but how much are we affected by it here at Maverick? You might think that this number is lower since we have good home time and it likely may be, but, in the Best Fleets to Drive For survey that Maverick drivers completed at the end of 2015, one of the top 3 wishes that drivers would like to see Maverick adopt is to have counseling services available to them. Even though our numbers may not be as high as the national numbers, clearly they are significant enough that we need to pay attention to this issue. Based on the statistics above and accounting for better home time for a conservative estimate, it’s still highly possible that somewhere between 150 and 250 Maverick drivers suffer from some level of depression.

So, let’s get into what exactly depression is. First and foremost, depression is a medical condition. Other examples of medical conditions are: high blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, hemophilia, etc. All of these things, including depression, vary in how severe they are and all of them are treated by specialists. Symptoms of this medical condition include: sadness or a depressed mood almost every day, the loss of enjoyment of things you used to like to do, major changes in weight in a short period of time, too much or too little sleep almost every day, fatigue almost every day, feeling hopeless or worthless or guilty almost every day, problems with concentrating or making decisions, and thoughts of hurting oneself. Sometimes this is caused by changes in serotonin levels (as described above) and sometimes it’s caused by unusually hard circumstances that we don’t know how to cope with.

Last August, my 21 year old son, Dugan, passed after a hard-fought 10 month war with brain cancer. It completely destroyed me. I suffered from almost every symptom listed above except for having thoughts of hurting myself. I barely slept…Memories had begun to surface where I could have been a better father and they haunted me endlessly…I could barely concentrate on my work…My day to day memory, which is normally quite good, lost its hold and I also had problems remembering anything from the previous year…My grief, which had started before Dugan died, developed into a social anxiety disorder and a slight paranoia…I was angrier and more depressed than I could handle on my own. It wasn’t fair to my family who was suffering as well, so I had to do something about it…

During my time with Maverick, I’ve pushed our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) multiple times. I was told that it is a great program but that it is also under-used. At first, I thought that this is due to the program possibly not being advertised well enough or often enough after orientation. Now, however, I realize that the problem goes a bit further. Knowing that I was having trouble with depression…knowing that I couldn’t cope without help…believing fully that counseling is a good thing, that it helps people, and that everyone should see a counselor at some point in his life…I picked up the phone, but couldn’t dial the number. I couldn’t admit I was lost or that I couldn’t get myself back on track. It ended up taking me two days just to make the call.

What I need to tell you is that call was the first step in building my life back up. The person handling calls for the EAP was very understanding. He looked up and found counselors in my area who are in network and accept the EAP payments. I was then given codes for myself and each member of my family to give to our grief counselor so that we could each have three free sessions with her. After that, it’s billed through insurance and it’s treated the same way as any other medical visit, going toward the deductible. The process is easy, quick, and doesn’t add to your stress.

Admittedly, I’m still reeling from losing Dugan. Some days are better than others, some hours are better than others. I’ve teared up more times than I can count just writing this article, but I’m actually able to write it because I got the help I needed to cope. One of the three top things Maverick drivers wanted was access to counseling. Well, Maverick has that. If you need the help, like I did, please make the call.

-Ken Moore

The EAP brochure and phone number is in MMS should you or your families ever find need of counseling, legal advice, and more. All inquiries, conversations, and medical information shared with the EAP or your specialists are confidential and no information is shared with Maverick or anyone else. If you need to set up home time to meet your appointment, you are under no obligation to tell us if your appointment is with a counselor.

The Wind Down

Driving is simultaneously a career of unimaginable exploration and freedom. It’s truly an amazing feeling to get paid to explore the country. To see the Rockies and Appalachians, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the Gulf of Mexico, to taste the differences in pizza from state to state, to experience different cultures on a daily basis…This is an education that few people get to experience. At the same time, unfortunately, there are lots of experiences that drivers go through on a daily basis that just cause stress: bad drivers who cut you off, steep downhills with lots of curves, a receiver who happens to be in a bad mood, etc. All these things and more cause high and low levels of stress every day, and if you haven’t found a way to release that stress, it carries over to the next day and makes all of the stress for that day worse. The best thing drivers can do for themselves is to find something to do to wind down.

Ken Donathan's truck sits behind the disc golf basket

For me, I had an arsenal of things I could do to wind down. My guitar has been to every state that I’ve been to and would come out at the end of the day and sometimes for breaks during the day. I would also hike, collect minerals and fossils that I’d find all over the place, and keep a blog. Whatever it is, it has to be something that you enjoy doing and that can be done anywhere. Some drivers prefer fishing and some prefer golfing. I’ve heard of both being done all over the place. What’s cool is that there are more and more “hobby” groups forming online, many of which are on Facebook, and are basically forming clubs. So, if disc golfing happens to be your thing, you can go onto Facebook, find the disc golfing groups Disc Golfing Truckers and Disc Golfing Truckers/travelers, both are Maverick driver Ken Donathan’s groups, join one or both, and then not only will you have information on where you can go to do it, but you might even be able to set up times with other people in the club to play together. This would be a great option for a 34 hour break. If you don’t see a group with your interests, form one and post it to the Maverick Family Facebook page and to your wall. Maybe some other Maverick Drivers and some of your friends will join, then their friends might join and so on. The larger the group is, the better the chances of finding what you like to do all over the country.

Some other interests I’ve seen Maverick drivers have taken to are photography and photo editing. Going to different parts of the U.S. and/or Canada all the time, there’s an opportunity to catch lots of different landscapes with different lighting. (If you pay attention, you’ll notice that cloud formations are different depending on the region you’re in as well.) Then, with apps like Snapseed, you can alter your pics to however your artistic side likes.

Here are a couple of good shots by Erick Risher:

Regardless of what you end up doing at the end of the day, make sure it’s something that can help you cut the stresses of everyday life on the road. Driving is an amazing and unique experience if you let yourself enjoy it.

Trainer Spotlight: David Muggeridge

►With Maverick since August 2013
►Trainer for over Two Years
►Drives in MSN Division (Glass OTR)
►What does he like best about Training?

  • David like the satisfaction of helping and it feels good to be shaping the future of Maverick drivers.

►What’s his approach in helping a student who is having trouble?

  • Take a step back, ask a lot of questions to help you understand how best to help the student. Then reevaluate how they’re doing and what will help them.

►How does he get to know his students?

  • As soon as he gets the phone number, he calls them that night and spends about an hour on the phone getting to know them and asking questions of what they feel their strengths and weakness are.

►Why does he drive?

  • He knew he didn’t like office work. He worked in a life insurance office for four years and needed a change. He then got into transportation in 1994.

►What hobbies does he enjoy?

  • Singing, billiards, and painting. He used to be an Elvis impersonator, but now he mostly sings gospel.

►Does he do any of them on the road?

  • He sings going down the highway unless he has a student in the truck, and there are a few truck stops out there with pool tables, so he plays when he can.

David was Maverick’s Q3 Trainer of the Quarter in 2016.

Suggested Apps

Snapseed is a great, easy to use app allowing you to edit all the photos you take with your phone on the road. Not only does it let you correct for photos that came out too dark, but there are a slew of filters you can choose from to get the right feel for your pics. My favorite aspect is that it allows you to change exposure, warmth, brightness and more on specific parts of your photo instead of only having the option to do this for the entire frame. It’s a free app and it’s completely entertaining. Give it a try!

PhotoDirector is a cool alternative to Snapseed that lets you use the filters before you take the picture. There’s also a slide on the screen that controls how much light affects the details of your shot. For example, if a bright window is behind your subject, you can adjust it so that you can either have a silhouette or so that you can see the subject’s details instead. What’s even cooler is that you can use these effects on your inward facing camera, too. PhotoDirector is a free app and definitely a lot of fun.

Suggested Websites

►Harvard provides some excellent resources for how nutrition affects your brain.

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

►Here is a short video you can watch on what exactly Depression is and how it can affect someone:

Liz Imel – Temp Control, OTR

When coming into your Dock area always size up the area that you have to work with for your setup, as you are approaching your dock look at the door you are going to back into. Check to see what kind of docking system the customer is using because there are many different variations. If it’s a spring-loaded bumper latch make sure the jaw is open before backing into it. Before you back all the way into your dock slide your tandems to the rear of the trailer. That helps reduce movement of the trailer in the unloading process because excessive movement of the trailer can cause the DOT bumper latch to wedge against the bumper and not allow it to release. Once you get the green light and an “ok” from the customer to move, but before moving the truck, walk to the back of the trailer to check and see if the jaw has been released from the bumper. You may have to back against the dock to get the jaw to release the bumper. Do not pull out if the bumper has not released. Go inside to have the customer release the lock jaws so you can move. In short, always know what kind of dock you are backing into.

Safety Awards Quarters 3 and 4, 2016

July
Charles Baines- 5 year
David Linscott- 5 year
James Mugisha- 5 year
Eric Blakeman- 5 year
Ken Ankney- Million Mile
Kelly Johnson- Million Mile
Mitch Miller- 15 year
Keith Williams- 2 Million Miles

August
Jeff Woods- 5 year
Timothy Taylor- 5 year
Clarence Rhodes- 5 year
Veon Hughes- Million Mile
Brian Cady- Million Mile
Charles Howlett- Million Mile
Daniel Behanna- 10 year
James Darby- 10 year
Kenneth Dublin- 10 year
Edmond Foster- 10 year
Steven Carlson- 10 year
Michael Grant- 10 year
Gary Lipscomb- 20 years
Vincent Lester- 20 years

September
Cecil Conner- 5 years
Brian Doerr- 5 years
David Bell- Million Mile
Kirl Tartt- 25 years

October
David Bach- 5 year
Edwin Coleman- 5 year
Jeff Callen- 5 year
John Grooters- 5 year
Alvin Campbell- Million Mile
Doug Cutler- Million Mile
DJ Grey- Million Mile
Joe Oliver- 10 year

November
Rodney Boettger- 5 year
Alex Gulley- 5 year
Joe Steeley- 5 year
James Patrick- Million Mile
Jim Jones- 10 year
John Bentley- 15 years

December
Jose Origel- 5 year
Troy Smith- 5 year
Steven Jarrell- 5 year
Michael Perkins- 5 year
Scott Nester- Million Mile
Ron Nunley- Million Mile
Jay Rambo- Million Mile
Dean Payne- 15 years

2016 Driver of the Year Event Recap

  Friday, February 3, 2017
For those of you who are unfamiliar with our Driver of the Month program/each year’s Driver of the Year event, you can check out our recap of last year’s event.

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It’s always a special time when Maverick family comes together to celebrate and honor our Drivers of the Month. This year was no different, as both Maverick office employees and Black Hats (along with spouses) gathered to fellowship in Little Rock at Next Level Events for our annual Driver of the Year Banquet.

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Those in attendance heard speeches from VP of Operations John Coppens, Chairman & CEO Steve Williams, and President John Culp. It was a memorable time reflecting on Maverick’s humble beginnings and giving praise and special recognition to the twelve Drivers of the Month.

The next morning, while the Drivers Advisory Committee held their quarterly meeting, our Black Hats’ spouses went sightseeing in downtown Little Rock! Their stops included the Clinton Presidential Library (with its current exhibit: The Beatles!) and lunch at Forty Two.

Later in the afternoon, it was time for the Driver of the Year presentation! The Summit Conference Center was a packed house.

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2015 Driver of the Year Roger Wyble

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Then it was time for the Driver of the Year pronouncement! 12 outstanding and honorable Drivers of the Month were nominated, but the driver with the most votes throughout the fleet and office employees would be…

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Raurii Milbrandt!

Raurii “Pineapple” Milbrandt pronounced as 2016 Driver of the Year

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Emotions were definitely high as Raurii gave a heartfelt speech to the Maverick crowd.

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Raurii with Driver Instructor Kurt Ebersole

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Raurii with Fleet Manager Tim Seivertson

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Raurii with December 2016 Driver of the Month Tommy Walters

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Raurii with 2011 Driver of the Year Allen Coley

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Left to right: VP of Operations John Coppens, Chairman & CEO Steve Williams, Raurii, President John Culp

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Raurii with former Drivers of the Year

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2016 Drivers of the Month

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Congratulations Raurii! You will represent our fleet well throughout 2017 as our Driver of the Year!

Maverick Announces 401k Match for All Maverick Employees

  Friday, November 18, 2016

As we plan for a new year it is often a time to reflect on the past and see how we can better position ourselves for the future. We understand how important it is for you to plan for your own future as well as your retirement years. Maverick would like to provide assistance in this planning process and therefore we are excited to announce the addition of a 401k Match effective January 1, 2017.

Maverick will match 50% of your contributions to an annual maximum of $1,500 per employee. We hope you find the match to be beneficial as you strive to reach your retirement goals. This match will be funded on a weekly basis and there will be a three year cliff vesting schedule. This means you are 0% vested on the employer matched funds until you have been employed with Maverick for three years. After 3 years of service with Maverick, you would be fully vested on the employer matched funds at 100%. As always, you will be fully vested in your employee contributions no matter how long you have been employed with Maverick.

If you are already enrolled in the 401k Plan you do not have to do anything to take advantage of the Match as it will automatically start matching at 50% of your employee contributions. For those that are not already enrolled, you may do so through Transamerica at any time online (upon completion of your new hire eligibility period) at www.transamerica.com or by phone at 888-676-5512. Additionally, if you are already enrolled in the 401k Plan and wish to change your contributions and/or investment allocations you may make these changes online and by phone. You may also make these modifications through the Transamerica App that can be found in the Apple and Android stores.

Please contact the Benefits Department at 866-413-4410, option #6 if you have any trouble enrolling in the Plan or have any questions.

Thank you for all of your hard work over the past year and we look forward to a great 2017!

-Maverick’s Executive Team

Be Prepared to Stop

  Thursday, June 23, 2016

We have been involved in a documentary with Delaware Park Productions for about a year now. Be Prepared to Stop is about our love of and absolute dependence on the great American highway. We rely on those roads and the countless trucks rolling down them to supply us with just about everything we use every day. But this round-the-clock lifeline has become so entrenched in our daily routines, we don’t even notice it any more. That neglect is reaching a crisis point. Roads and bridges are failing; safety concerns are mounting; skilled drivers are retiring; government is at a standstill. In order to raise awareness about the impact the impending breakdown will have on all our lives, Be Prepared to Stop aims to not only explain the issues but also to energize stakeholders to push for solutions that will improve the current situation and build towards a secure future.

Obviously this is near and dear to our hearts given what we do, but this is relevant to each and every one of us as citizens of this country. We had a small private screening last night in Little Rock which kicked off the dissemination of the film. After these screenings in select cities (Los Angeles, DC, San Jose, etc) the hope is that it will be picked up by CNN, HBO or the Discovery Channel. Until it is mainstreamed, we want to share the extended trailer with you:

Advice for the Rookie Maverick Driver – Pt. II

  Thursday, June 9, 2016

We’re back at it again, folks! For those of you who missed our previous post, we asked a few of our veteran drivers about some of the things they wish they had known before they went out on the road solo. Our first installment came from former driver, driver trainer and now fleet manager TJ Hargis.

Now it’s time for our second installment – this round of advice from former and current drivers Ken Moore and Tom Hachiya.

It’s actually not what a rookie driver does, that’s his/her mistake. It’s what’s not done. Before we start driving, we’re generally used to three square meals at relatively specific times of the day. This can change in a truck. We might not be able to stop for meals at the times we want to due to traffic, appointment times, etc. Now, in order to be our best, to think most clearly, to be safest, and to make our most rational decisions, we need to eat properly and consistently. I’m not talking just eating healthy. When someone first starts driving, there’s so much on his/her plate that food often doesn’t end up on the plate. I’ve spoken with drivers who’ve only eaten fast food and I’ve spoken with drivers who filled their trucks full with cans of beans. We need to eat a variety of food, snack during the day, and pay attention to getting enough non-fast food calories in our system. If we can do this, we are safer, less likely to be irritated by annoying things we have to deal with, and our families will like us more when we get home.

One of the biggest mistakes a rookie driver makes is not finding a way to wind down at the end of the day. When you first start driving, you have a ton to think about: driving safely, appointment times, eating properly in a strange environment, FMCSA regulations, hours of service, and on and on. It’s all pretty daunting in the beginning, and it’s honestly really stressful. If you play guitar, bring your guitar. If you hike, now you can hike everywhere. Personally, I like to find and collect fossils while I’m out. Whatever you choose, you need to have something at the end of the day (and sometimes in the middle) that you can do to help release that stress and feel better. Otherwise, the stress builds day after day and your time on the road isn’t what you want it to be.

From Tom Hachiya:

Time management: Consider your options before you head out on the road. Take some time to think about your 8 hour and 10 hour clock before taking off. The same thing pertains to your 30 minute break. Make sure you have a clear plan and direction, but also keep in mind your options and for hiccups that may come up along the way.

Backing: Make sure you do a good job of surveying your surroundings when you come into a customer’s area. Know where your safety threats and obstacles are at all times. Before you start backing, just stop. Look around and take an inventory of all of those things you might run into or that could hit you: a pedestrian walking along, a car that’s driving, a truck starting up. And as you’re backing up, keep track of them.

Rookies often lose track of the front of their truck. When backing, don’t be so focused that you lose track of the front. Every 10 seconds, look around as you’re backing up so you can keep track of all 4 corners of the truck.

Enjoy being a rookie: When you’re new, people expect you to make mistakes. People don’t expect you to be at 125 PFP points (Pay for Performance). Ask the extra questions, take the extra minutes. When it’s your first time at a customer, let them know. Ask them where they want you to check in, where to park. Don’t worry about the fact that you’re brand new. “Hey I’ve never been here before – where do you want me to go?” You’ll keep yourself out of trouble. Most people are happy to help you – they don’t want to see you fail!

Advice for the Rookie Maverick Driver – Pt. I

  Monday, May 2, 2016

We spoke with a few of our Maverick drivers (and former drivers) here recently who are a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of driving OTR. For those of you just starting out as a Maverick, those first few months out on the road going solo can be pretty intimidating. It’s a huge responsibility to be navigating 80,000 pounds of machinery on the roads, highways, and between traffic.

And so begins our short three-part series on some of the most common rookie mistakes and pieces of advice to make those first few months a little easier.

Our first contribution comes from former driver, driver trainer and external recruiter TJ Hargis. TJ is now a fleet manager for Maverick and helps new drivers transition out of their trainer truck and into going solo OTR.

Thanks so much for your time, TJ!

TJ as a driver trainer (2012)

Time management is very important. This covers everything from leaving home too late, just in time to make a delivery, and all the way to taking too long on breaks.

As a new driver, there are many obstacles that we have not seen or experienced, so the best advice that I can give is to plan your day and all your trips with a cushion to allow for road types that you haven’t seen or become comfortable with yet. Then there are other things that might crop up — traffic, time zone differences, even medical issues like when you don’t feel well. These things happen, but if we don’t allow time in our trip planning for them it could result in not loading/unloading for an additional day (which affects our pay check!).

Although it’s tough being away from our families, sometimes it’s actually better to leave a few hours early just to make sure our time is used correctly and we prepare for the obstacles that are in our everyday travels. Make sure to communicate any issues or concerns about your load or even the times and always pay attention to your H.O.S. Call your fleet manager with these questions and ask for their opinion. Remember, we’ve all been in this industry, most of us as drivers, long enough that we can help you find the right plans and path of execution.

Slow down and take your time to ensure that you do your job to the best of your ability and that you do it safely; speed with loading/unloading and trip planning will only get better in time. But find a system that works for you and stick with it. Do everything the same way every time and you create a pattern, a system. Then you can make movements without thinking of them because it becomes second nature. This is when your speed improves. Find a place for all your equipment or instruments that you use on a daily basis and return them to the same place after each use. Being organized is crucial in becoming more efficient.

Don’t ever rely solely on GPS. Always double check your atlas with all routes and restrictions, also use your local directions to get to your shippers and consignees. These are put in by our drivers that have been there before you. You obtain these by sending in Macro 1. Read these directions carefully and write them down. So here is the key to these directions, find out where you will tie in with them because the driver that entered them may have been traveling north (which should be stated) and you may be traveling south, so that means you need to compensate for that. If you have a smart phone, Google Maps works great for seeing your roads on satellite view.

And please, ALWAYS REMEMBER: Communication is the absolute key!