June O-O of the Month

Elizabeth Manning | June 08, 2012

McGinnis’ father, Monty Ray, was a company driver for a couple years during the 1950s, and an older brother also drove trucks for a living.

“I was 34 when I started,” McGinnis says. “A friend asked me to go on a job with him. He asked me if I wanted to learn how; eight hours later I was in the driver’s seat.”

After working as a company driver for 13 years, McGinnis bought his first truck in 2001, a 1998 Freightliner Classic. McGinnis is now on his fourth truck, a 2007 International 9400i with a Cummins and automatic transmission. McGinnis bought the truck last year with 494,000 miles on it and has added 71,000 more.

“It’s the first automatic I’ve ever owned. It shifts when it wants to shift…and all the while I’m still reaching for gear shifts that aren’t there,” McGinnis says.

Steve Glenn, terminal manager and agent for Universal in Little Rock, where McGinnis is dispatched, says McGinnis’ attention to safety and maintenance detail is unparalleled. He “keeps a close eye on his equipment,” Glenn says.

McGinnis suggests keeping a regular maintenance schedule to ensure safety and maximum uptime. “If you’re at home doing nothing, go out and raise the hood,” McGinnis says. “Take time to look for anything, any small aspect that could be a problem out on the road.”

McGinnis usually takes care of most minor maintenance himself. “If it requires hooking up to a computer, I’ve got to take it in,” he says. His wife handles his accounting, though an accountant does his taxes.

“I just drive and deliver the freight,” McGinnis says. “An owner-operator like me has to do all he can to stay in business.”

His main strategy for cutting fuel costs is scheduling plenty of time to get to his next stop, and then driving under the speed limit. “Too many drivers keep their foot to the floor the whole drive. Slow down, you’ll get there eventually,” and with more money in your pocket, he says.

GARY McGINNIS

1954: Born in Newport, Ark.

1970: Drove his first truck, hauling grain from the farm to the co-op, in Tuckerman, Ark.

1988: First job, driving for C&L Trucking

1989: Married wife, Sandy

2001: Bought a 1998 Freightliner Classic

2004: Bought 2005 Freightliner Classic

2005: Bought 2006 Freightliner Classic

2008: Leased to Glenn National Carriers (now Universal Am-Can)

2010: Named Owner-Operator of the Year for Universal Am-Can

2011: Bought current truck, a 2007 International 9400i

2012: Named Contractor of the Year for Universal Am-Can

Gary McGinnis is a finalist for the 2012 Owner-Operator of the Year award, which is sponsored by Overdrive and the Truckload Carriers Association. The winner will be announced at TCA’s annual convention, March 3-6, 2013, in Las Vegas.

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