Trucker of the Month

Jill Dunn | December 01, 2010

7.5 million safe miles

Teen-aged love affair with trucks launched long career for David Stump.

In ninth grade, David Stump’s owner-operator father allowed him to occasionally team-drive his KB-8 International straight truck.

An owner-operator since 1960, David Stump hauls meat in his 2006 Great Dane reefer. The stainless steel, spread-axle trailer has roll-up doors.

“I loved it,” says Stump, of Newburg, Pa. “I would have driven for nothing. We would both sleep across the seat, or one would sleep while the other one drove.”

That was the beginning of a lengthy career that enabled him to reach an achievement few drivers ever do – more than 7.5 million accident-free miles since 1965. He attributes all those safe miles to his habits of pre-trip inspections, diligent preventive maintenance and slow driving.

It also helps that he enjoys his work. “I love the people I’m around,” says Stump, who celebrates his 71st birthday this month. “I love my truck.”

His long career reflects a strong work ethic rooted in family farming. As Dunkard Brethren (also referred to as German Baptist Brethren), Stump’s father kept a full beard and his mother wore a bonnet. Stump’s parents, like many Dunkards, worked a small farm near Dillsburg, Pa., and that’s where Stump got his first work, at 5. Later, he and brother Wayne, who also became a trucker, worked his grandparents’ nearby farms every weekend.

When Stump left school at 16, Pennsylvania allowed him to drive a truck solo intrastate if he had a driver’s license, was unpaid and passed a physical. He drove team with his dad, hauling industrial machinery, or with other owner-operators, to New York City and sometimes farther. In turn, his dad made payments on his car.

After active duty with the Army National Guard, Stump married Beatrice Mae Wagner in 1959. The couple had four children.

In 1960, Stump bought his first truck, a new Mack B61, and hauled steel for Ohio-based Ace Doran Hauling and Rigging. In 1962, he began hauling building material for Ohio-based White House Trucking, which has since closed.

After totaling the B61 in his only chargeable accident in 1965, he got his first meat-hauling job as a company driver for Pennsylvania-based Shumaker Trucking. When he bought a 1973 Kenworth Conventional in 1976, he continued meat hauling while leased to Indiana-based Safeway Truck Lines.

Glen Peachey, owner of Pennsylvania-based Peachey Transport, remembers when Stump hauled meat for him from 1984 to 1988. The owner-operator was respectful, punctual and kept his equipment in pristine condition, he says. “He is top-notch,” Peachey says. “A lot of customers requested him.”

One such customer is Nebraska-based Omaha Packing Co., where Darla Zemula first met Stump when she began at the company in 1992. “As soon as we load him, we don’t have to worry abut the load,” says Zemula, who now works in sales. “He has a personal attachment to customers, takes that extra time and is extremely polite.” strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.