In the Indiana town where auto parts hauler Chris Hirsch grew up, the only available local jobs were on the farm or at the factory. But as the son of an independent driver, Hirsh says his career path seemed clear from an early age.
He started hauling grain and produce full time for his father in 1977 at 18 years old, securing a foothold in a career that has lasted more than 33 years and given Hirsch the chance to travel around the country. “I wasn’t cut out for factory work, and I never really wanted to move away,” he says. “No other jobs really appealed to me. I enjoy the traveling, and I enjoy the driving. I guess that’s actually why I stayed in it all of the years.”
The Oaktown, Ind., native spent three years driving for his dad, then became a line-haul driver for a fertilizer company at 21. He drove seven years there and a year and a half with Schneider before starting with his current carrier, Bestway Express. He broke the 4 million safe-mile mark last year.
Patience and awareness are essential to safe driving, Hirsch says, and you “just have to go along at your own pace. Just take your time and try to do it right. You have to look out for yourself and everybody else,” he says.
Hirsch has a dedicated run hauling car parts from Seymour, Ind., to San Antonio and back. Today, he says he still loves being on the road and will stick with it until he doesn’t.
“I plan to do it as long as I can and still enjoy it,” he says. “I don’t see that [ending] for quite a while. If I do ever find a way out, I’d like to move into some type of management role or a maintenance job at a trucking company. I don’t want to leave trucking all at once.”
“Just take your time and try to do it right. You have to look out for yourself and everybody else.”
Editor’s note: Chris Hirsch is a finalist for the 2012 Company Driver of the Year, which is sponsored by Truckers News and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner we be announced at TCS’s annual convention, March 4-7, 2012 in Orlando, Fla.
Q & A
Q: What’s one thing you always carry with you in your truck on the road?
A: I always have a laptop. I bring it because I can access information for weather and road conditions. Or if I’m in a position where I’m broke down and need a maintenance facility, I can find one. Laptop and a cell phone — got to be able to communicate.
Q: What advice would you give younger drivers?
A: Be sure you actually want to [drive a truck]. If you don’t enjoy it, I wouldn’t do it just because it’s a job. It’s got to be something you enjoy. I wouldn’t let anybody push me or rush me into it. Other than that, just be safety-minded and stay dedicated to your work.