Company Driver of the Year
Meet the 2012 Truckers News/TCA Company Driver of the Year
By Todd Dills
Place of residence: Marshfield, Wis.
Safe miles: 4 million-plus
Company: Roehl Transport
Trailer type: Curtainside, after decades flatbedding.
Family: Wife: Deb; children: Jenna, Derek, Jared.
Favorite load destination: The Pacific Northwest, for the scenery.
Most memorable haul: Loaded Golden Eagle Log Home from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., to Soldotna, Alaska.
2006 Freightliner Coronado
Engine: Detroit Series 60
Transmission: 13-speed manual
Sleeper: 72 inches
Drive tires: 445/50R22.5 Michelin singles with siped blocks
Other features: Dual 140-gallon fuel tanks, ThermoKing TriPac diesel APU, PC Drivertech communications module with fuel optimizer built in
Consider the background and these winning qualities of success, perseverance and safety of a particular truck driver.
He prefers his former 2001 Freightliner Classic to the 2006 Coronado he drives today and, according to his wife, believes a truck just doesn’t look right without a proper visor. He has logged upward of 4 million safe miles, averaging 140,000 miles yearly, nearly all of them as an employee of Roehl Transport of Marshfield, Wis.
He was reared in Chili, Wis., on a farm that, for the last year and a half of high school, he more or less worked himself as the youngest of four children in the family. It soured him on farm work, and led him to a series of jobs — first as a welder for six months at a Kohler factory in Sheboygan, Wis., then to generator manufacturer Marathon Electric. He learned driving with Fischer Truck & Bus Services, working the two-stick shifter in a local gravel truck for a year and a half. In 1979, he answered an ad to become one of about 30 drivers then at Roehl.
He believes there are four kinds of drivers: Those home every night, those out Monday-Friday and home on the weekends, those on a dedicated account and long-haulers. He settled into his niche over-the-road, toting a flatbed, after he found dedicated steel hauling between Minneapolis and Chicago to contain some of the same tedium he’d experienced in other, less-mobile jobs.
On the long road, he got what he wanted — the freedom to achieve the earning potential he needed.
Nestled among farm fields 200 yards from the western end of Airport Road, just off County Road B, at the edge of Marshfield, his home was built to his family’s design. It includes an imposing stonework chimney custom-made by his father-in-law, and is located on a placid pond at his property’s western border. The sunset view from a white-washed swing at the pond’s eastern edge is a photographer’s dream, and his two Japanese Akita dogs, Rocco and Akira, utilize the waters frequently to cool off in the summer.
His immediate family consists of his wife, Deb; Jenna and Derek, 27, fraternal twins born a year and a half after the couple’s wedding May 14, 1983; and Jared, 21. All remain a part of their lives in the home on Airport Road.
Deb is outspoken about her pride in her husband’s achievements — and their family’s participation in his trucking career. The pair began their courtship the day after Christmas in 1981, the year she started working in the Roehl office.
As an engagement present, he built a garage to go along with her house, where they lived for three years before the twins were born.
He attributes his success in trucking to his approach to safety, an on-highway vigilance that is simply “watching out for everybody else.” He’s the kind of driver Roehl Safety Vice President John Spiros says lives by the maxim “drive according to the load, or the load will drive you.”
He’s never had a cargo claim in 30 years of flatbedding and running curtainside trailers.
And “he cares more about his family and his job than he does himself,” Spiros adds.
President and COO Rick Roehl says drivers like him ultimately made the company successful through its expansion to more than 2,000 trucks operating today. “The word professional gets thrown around a lot, often inappropriately,” Roehl wrote in remarks submitted with the company’s nomination of him for the Driver of the Year award.
However, Roehl adds, when professional is used to describe this driver, “it find its true mark.”
He is the first to earn a 4-million-mile safe driving award at Roehl. When he retires in 10 years, he probably will be well past five million safe miles. His name is John Moeller, and he is the Truckers News/Truckload Carriers Association Company Driver of the Year.