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Marine Vet on the road.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

by APRILLE HANSON/Special to The Trucker

On the surface, Terrence Danns is the average company driver. But behind his jovial laugh and kind smile he has led a life that’s anything but ordinary.

Danns is a first generation American, a Marine veteran, a lover of the arts, has backpacked through Europe, is a married father of six and has big dreams of using his business savvy to become an owner-operator one day.

“That’s what’s so phenomenal about truck drivers,” Danns said, emphasizing that the profession is full of drivers that buck the stereotypical view of what it means to be an American trucker.

Danns became a company driver a year and a half ago and drives a 2017 Freightliner Cascadia for C.R. England throughout the lower 48. He’s out on the road typically two months at a time hauling mostly refrigerated freight.

Before hopping into a big rig, he worked as a retail manager, but realized quickly it was a “thankless profession.”

“You don’t have the freedom,” and are bound by “whatever square footage” a store is rather than the flexibility of a career in trucking, Danns said. “… It’s one of the only industries that can triple your income in a short amount of time.”

But a get-rich-quick mentality is not his driving force for pursuing a trucking career. Working hard to build a better life for his family is something that’s engrained in his soul thanks to his upbringing.

His family emigrated from Guyana, South America to New York City before he was born.

“I grew up in the hood,” he said, and at the risk he pointed out of sounding stereotypical, added, “there were a lot of difficulties — shootings, bullying. It made me a better person.”

“Growing up in a culture that’s different makes it challenging when you’re a kid, especially when you don’t have many friends. I was the low hanging fruit, easy to pick on. I’d say, ‘Yes sir, no ma’am,’” and was the “teacher’s pet,” he said.

His family’s culture fostered in him a love for education and he became an “A” student. He would watch political shows at 5 years old and “I’ve always liked to write.”

“My teachers loved me, adults appreciated the kind of kid I was. I was kind of a nerd and I liked to read and have discussions. I was very inquisitive,” Danns said, but living in the Southside Jamaica neighborhood in Queens when crack cocaine was rampant was not an environment that encouraged academics.

“I was solicited to sell drugs and I never did,” he said, and was able to overcome the sadness of his parents’ divorce — they later reconciled before their deaths in the early 2000s — at 6 years old.

“I’ve always loved entertainment since I was a kid … My way of coping was my imagination. Drawing, singing, anything that drew me to entertainment,” he said.

Though he never had a full-time career in the arts, he participated in singing recitals, enjoyed writing poetry and later in life, toured with an Off-Broadway production of “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” playing “a drunk and abusive husband,” about seven years ago.

“It was like a whirlwind. It was about eight of us in a Durango” he said, performing at colleges around the country along with his wife, who is a professional actress.

In the 1990s, he served three years in the Marines during Operation Desert Storm. Having that military discipline ultimately prepared him for a career in trucking.

“You know you have a job to do. You focus. You also have the desire to move up and do better and land in a spot much better than where you started,” he said of the Marines’ and trucking mentality.

Having leadership skills has aided him as a driver trainer and his artistic side has allowed him to incorporate some unique ways of teaching drivers.

“I have a song I play for all my students. It’s a Frank Sinatra song called, ‘Nice ‘n’ Easy,’” Danns said. It’s a metaphor for driving — trip planning, prepping the truck, monitoring the weather and “once you get all of that done, it’s nice and easy, no fast turns, no race.”

“I’m pretty laid back so it makes them ease up. Not too much because I need them to be on point,” he said. “I will sing along with it and kind of state the parts that are appropriate … The whole point of [the song] is he’s talking about loving a woman, but we’re talking about the road and the truck because the whole process of becoming a driver is basically loving the road.”

While he’s still new to the trucking industry, he plans on being an independent driver, putting enough money aside to make payments on a truck and get his broker’s license. He plans to help his sister, who just began a body butter company called “Simply Rich,” with distribution.

“The goal is to get my truck and to find some more experienced guys that want to drive,” if he adds other trucks to his company, he said. “I know I’d want to pay them well, let them drive the trucks. Build up my brand and the business. I don’t know if I want a fleet. I know there are several things I’d like to do.”

If he gets to that place, Danns said he wants to “give back.” Success and having empathy for others is something he’s always felt and passed along to his children, each successful in their own ways in grade school and college.

“The people I’m training, I’m able to give back [to] in a small way,” he said, adding that his mentality as the son of immigrants centers around, “One, you don’t quit; two you don’t keep your hand out asking for stuff. ‘Whatever your mind can conceive, if you believe you’ll achieve.’ I know that’s kind of corny, but the family mantra is ‘Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.’”

Danns said he enjoys being out on the road and photography is a passion.

“I see so much beauty in the world during a time that’s so chaotic. That’s what I’m about man — passion, showing a love for people,” he said. “It [photography] is almost like letting people have a little piece of your soul, the way I see things.”

When he’s at home in New Bern, North Carolina, he enjoys spending time with his children and will revel in his new title of “grandfather” to his new grandson, he said. While not as often as he’d like, he shows off Karaoke skills locally, loving tunes like Johnny Gill’s “My, My, My.”

No matter where his career takes him, Danns said he will do it with both passion and compassion.

“Human decency is important for me, just showing general compassion toward people. There’s always going to be people that suck. It sounds a little naïve, utopian” to believe things will ever be perfect, he said, but “I believe we can make things a hell of a lot better. That’s how I try to live my life.

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Stay Metrics releases Stay Ahead as new platform for survey products

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As the centerpiece of the Stay Ahead platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers). (Courtesy: STAY METRICS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stay Metrics, a provider of driver retention tools for motor carriers, has released Stay Ahead, a new platform for its suite of driver survey products, which include onboarding surveys, fleetwide ongoing/annual surveys and exit/departure surveys.

Joining these surveys is a powerful new feature that lets carriers make the most of their data, according to Mary Malone, vice president of business development.

“The Stay Ahead tool helps carriers stay ahead of turnover, stay ahead of driver satisfaction, and stay ahead of growing their fleets,” Malone said. “It’s solidly focused on the future and making that future as successful for carriers as possible.”

As the centerpiece of this new platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers).

The Intervention Opportunities feature makes Stay Metrics’ proven onboarding surveys even more effective by pointing out exactly which drivers need attention to stay during their first year, Malone said.

“This feature comes with a redesign and significant upgrade to Stay Metrics’ Self-Service Reportal for clients to see their data and analytics. It provides on-demand access to a wide range of reports, providing full transparency and powerful options for tracking drivers’ satisfaction and retention,” she said.

The Stay Ahead portal works with the onboarding surveys to alert carriers any time a driver appears to be at risk of leaving. The at-risk status of drivers is determined based on a Stay Metrics proprietary model that identifies at-risk drivers based on previous research.

Carriers can also filter drivers based on their alerts and willingness to recommend the carrier.

An additional helpful component is the ability to export all drivers that have intervention opportunities on a spreadsheet. Stay Metrics recommends that carriers check the system once per week and export this list as a checklist for their driver calls that week, Malone said.

“At a certain size of carrier, you can’t realistically call everyone each week,” said Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics co-founder and CEO. “That’s why this feature is so helpful. It helps teams prioritize their calling time to reach the drivers that need it most and provides suggested topics for those conversations. The combination of who to call and what to talk about makes this the most actionable tool on the market for driver engagement and satisfaction.”

In addition to intervention opportunities, the Stay Ahead tool also brings to the forefront any questions drivers have after taking their surveys.

“This powerful communications tool lets carriers know what information drivers need right now,” Hindes said. “These questions have always been collected by Stay Metrics and sent to carriers as Intervention Alerts, which will continue, but now carriers can export a checklist as a helpful tool to make sure the team addresses each one.”

Industry professionals and media are invited to attend a free webinar demonstrating how the Stay Ahead platform and its new features work on September 18 at 2 p.m. EDT. To register go to https://www.staymetrics.com/webinar/.

“I honestly believe this could be a revolution in how carriers onboard new drivers and keep them beyond the first year,” Hindes adds.

Carriers can find out more about each of the surveys that are part of the Stay Ahead platform on the Stay Metrics website at staymetrics.com.  8

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Daimler celebrates 750,000th unit produced at Cleveland, N.C., plant

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The 750,000th truck produced at Cleveland Truck Manufacturing, a Freightliner new Cascadia, pictured in front of the plant. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

CLEVELAND, N.C. — Daimler Trucks North America on August 26 commemorated the production of the 750,000th vehicle built at its Cleveland, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant.

Keys to the milestone vehicle — a Freightliner new Cascadia — were presented to representatives from United Parcel Service during a ceremony at the facility.

“Over the past 30 years, our Cleveland plant has served as the foundation for our North American manufacturing operations and has been an integral part of our growth, innovation and leadership,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America. “This production landmark demonstrates both customer acceptance of our solutions and the strength of our team. As we continue to evolve our product offerings and technologies, the Cleveland facility will remain a critical part of our strategy and success.”

“UPS celebrates this landmark achievement alongside DTNA as we accept the 750,000th truck produced by the Cleveland truck manufacturing plant,” says Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS. “We applaud the efforts made by thousands of employees across UPS, DTNA, and Peach State Trucks Centers to bring this milestone to fruition. This accomplishment signifies our companies’ continued success as collaboration transforms technology and service defines the customer experience.”

Freightliner Trucks acquired the plant in 1989 and started producing the Freightliner Medium Conventional, a day cab truck model based on a Mercedes-Benz cabin mounted on an American chassis.

Over the years, the product line-up at Cleveland has evolved as DTNA’s newest innovations entered the marketplace.

Today, in addition to the Class 8 new Cascadia, the Cleveland plant also produces the Western Star 4700, 4900 and 5700XE truck models, and the Freightliner Coronado and Columbia for the right-hand drive Australian and New Zealand markets.

Since the first truck rolled off the line in Cleveland, DTNA has invested more than $350 million in the facility, including a recent $27 million investment to add a new logistics center with state-of-the-art technologies to support the company’s lean supply chain practices.

More than 2,200 people are employed at the Cleveland facility, DTNA’s largest manufacturing plant in the U.S.

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Stevens Transport driver Dwight Arnold name trucking’s top rookie

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Dwight Arnold accepts the winner’s check for $10,000 after being named trucking’s top rookie during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas August 23. (Courtesy: STEVENS TRANSPORT)

DALLAS — Dwight Arnold, a driver for Stevens Transport, has been named the 2019 Mike O’Connell Trucking’s Top Rookie Award.

Presentation of the award was made August 23 during the Great American Trucking Show here.

Arnold, 38, lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. He won $10,000 and prizes from the RoadPro Family of Brands and Rand McNally. Arnold also received $1,000 from his company for winning the award.

“It gives you a buffer so I can work harder and get more done, clear debt and prepare a better life for my family,” he said of winning and the cash prize. “It’s a dream come true.”

According to the Stevens Transport website, Arnold was born in Kissimmee, Florida, and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2001, Arnold, joined the United States Army and during his time in the service, served as an ammunition specialist, military recruiter and a special unit transportation officer.

Arnold received many awards in the Army, including the Army Commendation Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two stars.

After retiring from the service in August 2014, Arnold said he wanted a profession that matched what he was already used to doing and allowed him to see his family more.

Having experience in the transportation industry, he realized that a profession as a truck driver would be the perfect fit and obtained his CDL from Tennessee Truck Driving School and graduated from orientation at Stevens in August of 2018.

Today, Arnold is a member of the Stevens Independent Contractor Division and is driving in the company’s Kraft dedicated fleet.

“Trucking has given me the opportunity to make a better home dynamic for me and my family,” Arnold said. “As for my future plans with Stevens, I’m hoping to start a fleet with four to five trucks and I also hope to build financial stability with my family, thanks to the financial success that I have had with trucking so far.”

Arnold’s driver manager DeAnthony Montgomery spoke high praise about Arnold’s success at Stevens.

“Dwight is a driver that I know will complete every task presented to him with a positive attitude,” Montgomery said. “He consistently delivers every load on time and is a very motivated and exemplary driver. I am glad to have him on my team.”

Arnold was one of 11 finalists for the award.

The other 10 finalists, the driver training school they attended and their employer include:

  • Aaron Pratt, Maverick Transportation, Maverick Transportation
  • Bradley Chislett, National Tractor Trailer School, H.O. Wolding
  • Daniel Walton, Roehl Transport, Roehl Transport
  • Jaron Grier, New England Tractor Trailer Training School, U.S.Xpress
  • Kandy Qualls, United Truck Driving School, Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co.
  • Matthew Hepburn, Miller-Motte College, Melton Truck Lines
  • Oday Alhousha, CDL Xpress School, Hogan Transport
  • Pamela Girton (Coffman), Tulsa Technology Center, Groendyke Transport
  • Thomas Blitch, Roadmaster Drivers School, Werner Enterprises, Inc.
  • Tyria Snow, Diesel Driving Academy, TMC Transportation

Each received $1,000 and a prize package.

The award is named after the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and who originated the idea of the award.

O’Connell said he believed that honoring a top rookie driver helped show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry. 8

 

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