Exceptional self-discipline takes Hunt Transportation flatbedder into first-time owner-operator status and good health
Discipline instilled from four years in the Marines contributes to Robert Colyer’s success in the trucking industry. Less than five years in with Hunt Transportation, Colyer, 51, of Orbisonia, Pa., was named Hunt’s Safety Driver of the Year.
Colyer joined the Marines after graduating from high school. Two years of his four-year service was in Beirut, Lebanon, giving rise to his nickname, “Beirut Bob.” After returning to the U.S., Colyer had a hard time finding a job. A friend from the Marines advised him to go into the trucking business. In 1986, Colyer began his career, driving for several other fleets and eventually finding, he says, a great company in Hunt Transportation.
“My career and attitude of trucking changed when I came to Hunt,” Colyer says. “They put me into a brand-new truck, an ‘06 International with only six miles on it with plastic still on the seat.”
More than four years and just less than half a million safe miles later, Colyer still loves working for Hunt. Colyer found that the people at Hunt have also made his career lasting and enjoyable. “This is the longest I’ve been with one company because I’ve been so happy,” Colyer says. “It’s pretty much the people.”
Dave Galley, director of fleets transportation, says Colyer represents the company well. “Robert’s just been a scholar individual,” Galley says. “He’s very professional all the way around. He’s just the model truck driver that everyone looks for.”
While safety is important to both Colyer and Hunt, Colyer says he takes care also to keep his truck clean, attend to the maintenance of the equipment and ask questions.
In June, Colyer will represent Hunt Transportation in the flatbed division at the National Truck Driving Championship held in Grand Island, Neb.
Colyer’s disciplined side is evident in his eating habits. As a semi-vegetarian (he eats some chicken and fish but not other types of meat) for the past 20 years, Colyer does not give in to fast-food temptations on the road. Instead, he stocks up at supermarkets, keeping two refrigerators with him in his truck.
Colyer originally decided to become a semi-vegetarian for reasons of health and has kept up the diet since. When it comes to exercise, his job provides. “That’s what I like about flatbedding, you get a little workout while working,” Colyer says.
In his spare time, he finds himself still on the road as he visits American Legion posts. “If I have time, as a veteran, I like to visit American Legion posts and mingle with other veterans,” he says. “Beirut Bob” is proudly displayed on his truck — a truck he hopes will soon be his. After speaking with the president of Hunt Transportation, Colyer will begin putting money down on his current truck.
“I’m going to lease on to Hunt with the same truck I started with,” Colyer says. “I saved up 10 grand to start.”
Colyer hopes to pay off the truck in two years but plans to remain with Hunt Transportation for years to come. “I plan on retiring with Hunt,” he says. “I wish I would have found them 25 years ago. That’s how good they are.”
Q & A
Q: What is something you always take with you on the road?
A: Laptop. I’m a big Facebooker. I found a lot of classmates that I haven’t seen or heard from in over 30 years.
Q: What is your favorite city?
A: Omaha, Neb. This is the company’s base. Since I’ve been with Hunt, I made a lot of friends here locally, and there are a lot of things to do.
Q: My advice to other truckers is …
A: No. 1 is safety. As a flatbedder, load securement is important. Plan your day, look ahead for weather and road conditions. Also, communication with dispatchers is important.
Q: What is your favorite meal?
A: I would have to say grilled salmon with asparagus and a nice salad.