From bus to bobtail
Best Cartage driver Wade Oxendine shuttled fellow students before graduating to big rigs
At 16, Wade Oxendine drove a school bus full of children to and from school, parking the bus at his high school in Lumberton, N.C., while he was in class. That was his first experience with a bigger vehicle, he says.
“As a boy, you see big trucks and think, ‘That’s what I want to do one day,’” Oxendine says.
That’s what he continued to do after he graduated high school in 1983, he says, hauling miscellaneous product across the nation for Carolina Western.
Afterward, he worked for Midstate Farms until he found his current job at Best Cartage Trucking on July 21, 1987.
During his 28 years as a driver, Oxendine has piled up more than 2 million accident-free miles.
Oxendine attributes his safe driving habits mostly to a higher power. “Number one, I’ve asked God to protect me all of the time,” he says. “I also continuously check my mirrors, try to look as far ahead as I can and not go too crazy on the speed.”
The Randleman, N.C., resident hauls corrugated materials to box companies, and he mainly makes daily runs from the Best Cartage headquarters to Sumter Packaging in Sumter, S.C. Oxendine says he has stayed with Best Cartage for 24 years because he likes the convenience of being able to come home every day.
“Trucking works for me because the job is right at my house,” he says. “In a way, it’s like you’re working for yourself.”
While working at Best Cartage, based in Kernersville, N.C., Oxendine has had several jobs within the company. He says the money hasn’t been bad, and he’s been able to support his family. “I feel like you can make money in this industry for yourself, but you just have to work hard at it.”
When he’s not driving, Oxendine volunteers as the girls’ volleyball and softball coach at Providence Grove High School. This allows him to get about three hours of sleep a night, but he says he is accustomed to the schedule.
Post-trucking, Oxendine says he wants to drive a local tour bus that “hauls sports teams and college kids.”
Q & A
TN: What’s one thing you always carry with you in your truck?
WO: Pictures of my son Victor at his senior prom.
TN: What advice would you give younger drivers?
WO: When you’re getting ready to back yourself into a dock, make sure you’ve got yourself set up right and that there’s no one behind the truck that you can run into. Always blow your horn to make sure people are aware that you’re backing up.
TN: What’s the most memorable moment of your career?
WO: The scariest thing was when I first started driving. I was 22 years old and I had gotten up at midnight to go to New Jersey from North Carolina, and I dozed off. When I woke up, the truck was going down the middle of the interstate by itself. There were no cars in sight, but the truck was just going by itself. Right then, I said, ‘Man, that learnt me a lesson.’ The good Lord looked down on me. I felt like he had to be the person driving the truck.
Editor’s note: Wade Oxendine is a finalist in the 2011 Company Driver of the Year contest, sponsored by Cummins Engines and Ram, and produced by Truckers News and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner, to be announced at TCA’s annual convention March 4-7, 2012, in Orlando, Fla., will win a Cummins-powered Ram pickup.