Trucker: Paul Obermeyer, 58, of Vincennes, Ind.
Rig: 1A 1997 Freightliner Classic with a 53-foot drop-deck Kentucky trailer; also owns a 1999 Volvo 770
Career: Since 1991, leased to Hogan Transfer & Storage of Indianapolis, agent for Mayflower Transit
Freight: Household furniture
Accident-free: 500,000 miles
Paul Obermeyer is what George Burns and Santa Claus would be if they drove team. The Indiana household mover greets you with a stogie and a smile and leaves you with much more.
When he moves a family, Obermeyer might give the kids toy trucks and the whole family a ride to the airport, says Hayden Haypack, president of Hogan Transfer and Storage, the Mayflower Transit agent Obermeyer has leased to since 1991. “Paul is dedicated, consistent and fun-loving,” Haypack says. “He’s very patient and understanding of individual needs.”
Obermeyer has always been generous to others during his 37 years of leasing to divisions of Mayflower, Haypack says. For example, Obermeyer helped prepare three furniture movers for their commercial driver’s licenses. Over the years, after the three helpers received their licenses, he bought a truck for them, leased it to Hogan and hired them to drive it. “I really can’t tell you why I did it,” Obermeyer says. “They needed a job, and the agent needed a truck.”
One of those drivers was Ryan Obermeyer of Indiana, who learned trucking from his Uncle Paul. “I look at him like he’s my guardian angel,” the nephew says. “He’s helped me out in everything I’ve done.”
Hogan dispatcher Bob Fenzi says customers are impressed by Obermeyer’s “never met a stranger” manner. He shows special care for their belongings and for them as people, says Fenzi, who has known Obermeyer for 16 years. “He’s the Father Flanagan of Hogan Mayflower,” says Fenzi, referring to the Nebraska priest who founded Girls and Boys Town. “He’s a big, gentle person.”
Obermeyer helps families feel better about moving by showing them and their belongings respect. The children get to crawl around in the cab and blow the horn, and he even gets a laugh out of the adults. “If you’re cheerful and glad to be there, then you’ve won half the battle,” he says. “They may be a sourpuss when I get there, but when I leave, they’re laughing.”
He has lived his dream career by being an owner-operator, Obermeyer says. “There are days I’m ready to leave, but I love trucking,” he says. “I saw a herd of elk in Wyoming trudging through 3 feet of snow. I saw wild moose in Idaho. We see sunrises and sunsets that other people pay to see.”
FIRST TRUCK: 1965 Chevy Series Conventional.
DREAM TRUCK: Kenworth W900 with a walk-in sleeper and a 600-hp engine.
ANNUAL MILES: 90,000.
HARDEST THING TO MOVE: Pianos.
MOST UNUSUAL MOVE: Two washer and dryer sets into comedian Bill Cosby’s New York City brownstone. I never saw him.
FUNNIEST MOVE: In the 1960s, the elevator holding the grand piano I was moving fell two floors and became stuck halfway between two floors. My two helpers were as white as sheets.
FAVORITE PLACE TO DRIVE: Western states, especially I-40 from Arizona to California.
LEAST FAVORITE PLACE TO DRIVE: Major cities.
DREAM VACATION: Attending a NASCAR race.
FAVORITE MUSIC: Garth Brooks for country, Yanni for New Age and Tchaikovsky for classical.
MEMBERSHIPS: St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vincennes.
AWARDS: Driver of the Month for Mayflower, March 2000.
FAVORITE FOOD: Hamburger steak and a baked potato.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT CIGARS: I don’t inhale.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE INDUSTRY’S IMAGE: Respect for one another. That also means for four-wheelers.
PET PEEVE: The disrespect truck drivers have for each other.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Keeping the family together. I was 15 when my dad died, and my mother died in 1983. I have one brother and one sister, and the three of us have stayed close.
Do you know an exemplary owner-operator with 15 years of trucking experience and an excellent safety record? Write to Laura Crackel, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403 or at [email protected]