Trucker of the Month
Lending a hand
Through the years, Luther Martin has built his trucking career on accountability, dependability and helping others.
It was only $28 worth of gas, but the young man Luther Martin ran into in 2004 at a gas station in Waynesboro, Va., didn’t have the money to pay for it. Martin heard him talking to his mom on the phone, telling her he was in trouble.
Martin walked inside, talked to the cashier and paid the guy’s bill. Before he left, Martin wrote down his address on a piece of paper and handed it to the young man. “I told him if his mom can afford to pay me, fine. If not, that’s fine, too.”
She did, and, every year since, she’s included him in her Christmas card list.
Martin, 55, says he would probably cringe if he knew how much he had given to people in need on the road – providing hotel rooms, fuel money, food and rides.
But he says that’s just his nature. “You can’t knock someone because they’re having bad luck,” he says. “You won’t miss what you’ve given that goes to helping people.”
Martin started trucking 26 years ago and for the last 19 has been an owner-operator. Needing a job in a bad economy in 1983, Martin, with the help of a friend, found work as a company driver at North and South Truck Lines in Virginia.
By 1990 he had bought a 1985 cabover Mack and leased to the company. After new management came and cut pay for leased operators, Martin moved on.
After a few months of hauling poultry for Hartman Trucking, Martin found a dedicated run leased to May Trucking carrying Coors beer from Elkton, Va., to Scranton, Pa.
In 2005, after 13 years with May, he and his wife Trish moved to Edinburg, Texas, to be close to their daughter. Since then, Martin has hauled produce in his 2005 Kenworth T600 under his own authority from Texas to the Northeast and fresh poultry from Virginia to Texas.
Martin says running a successful business is a battle fought on several fronts. To cut costs in recent years, he says he runs tires longer, stretches oil changes further and sleeps in his truck more.
“Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do,” Martin says. “You really have to understand what it costs to operate your truck and figure your cost per mile if you hope to survive in today’s economy.”