Dominick Soriano, who hauls in a Gully Transportation trademark Freightliner FLD — a 1996 model still running strong after 1.6 million miles — found himself in the situation of a lifetime mere weeks into his budding trucking career. His father, Rafael, a Tennessee-based driver with Cowan Systems of Baltimore, “comes up to Chicago every once in a while,” Soriano says, and it just so happens Chicago is Soriano’s bread and butter.
“It worked out,” he says, “that we were able to meet up at the Petro in Monee, Ill.,” driver to driver. “He was in his truck; I was in mine,” Soriano adds. “It was wild. I’d always ridden with him. Now I was all grown up.”
The 18-year-old had the luck to be one of two young drivers Quincy, Ill.-based Gully Transportation could hire in 2011 for in-state hauls, part of an agreement company owner Michael Gully has long brokered with his fleet’s insurance company. “I wish there were more young people interested in the business,” Gully says. “I’ve taken a role in trying to encourage and motivate that.”
Young Soriano hit the jackpot — Gully is a presence in the trucking business, well-known for its collection of antique Freightliners featured on the “American Trucker” show on the Speed Channel last year.
Where did Michael Gully meet Soriano? Well, where else?
“I met him on Facebook,” says Gully, originally, “about a year and a half, two years ago.
Soriano had long known he “wanted to drive a truck,” he says, “but I just figured that there was no way until I was 21.”
Since he was 12, Soriano had washed trucks at the I-40 Exit 87 CB Shop in Jackson, Tenn., near where he grew up, since he was 12. His parents drove team during part of his childhood, then solo (his mother has been off the road for several years). He recalls his first trip with his father at age 12: “We went to Lincoln, Neb. — that was the farthest west I’d ever been. We went to St. Louis from there. Indianapolis.” Out for three weeks, he adds, “it was a blast.”
Soriano had caught the bug. “I’ve got pictures of myself when I was probably a year old and I’m sitting on a toy truck acting like I’m driving it. It’s always been what I knew I wanted to do. I guess it’s like one of those things that’s in your blood.”
Gully and Soriano finally met in person in Louisville in March 2011, near the end of Soriano’s final year of high school. “We really maintained a dialogue through Facebook” thereafter, Gully says.
Gully “offered to use him on intrastate runs,” he says. “We’ve done that historically for a number of years — the industry loses a lot of drivers to other vocations because of the age restriction.” Gully believes that if you’re old enough to serve your country in the armed forces, you should be able to drive an interstate truck. “Unfortunately, the idea always gets shot down, and the insurance companies are against it,” he says.
Soon after Soriano graduated from Gibson County High School and turned 18 in July, he loaded up a car for Quincy. He started out pulling a pneumatic tank in the company’s bulk operation, but it became obvious he had a real affinity for navigating the traffic and tight quarters of Chicago.