Trucker: James Brazier Jr., 55, of Albany, Ga.
Family: Wife, Betty Jane; one daughter, Eugenia Frazier; and one grandson, Joshua
Rig: 1993 Mack CH13
Leased to: McKenzie Tank Lines, Tallahassee, Fla.
Freight: Propane gas
Accident-free: 30 years
James Brazier Jr. didn’t know that the blow valve under his tank was open as he began unloading sulphuric acid a few years ago.
“Some of it came out of the valve, off my pants leg, off my boot and onto the concrete, and as soon as it hit the concrete it started smoking,” he says. “I respected my loads before, but from that moment on, I realized just how dangerous some of this stuff can be.”
Incidents such as that have convinced Brazier that hauling hazmat is nothing to be taken lightly. Every time he loads or unloads, he gears up in a hazmat suit that consists of a helmet with a face shield and rubber gloves, boots and jumpsuit.
“That suit has saved me from serious injury,” says Brazier, who is leased to McKenzie Tank Lines.
On another occasion, Brazier stopped to eat after unloading a material from a paper mill.
“That stuff smells awful, and I must have gotten some on my boots without knowing it,” he says. “When I went into the restaurant, I stepped in some soda that someone had spilled, and when that stuff mixes with water, it sets off the smell even more.” People were looking around, trying to figure out what the smell was when Brazier realized it came from him. “I just turned around and headed out of there before someone noticed it was me.”
Brazier hauled a dry van for a few years until a friend got sick and asked him to fill his seat driving a tanker. Brazier found it challenging. “You have to have training and know what you’re doing,” he says. “Almost anyone can get in a truck and pull a flatbed, but you have to be willing to work a little harder to drive a tanker.” He began hauling a tanker 25 years ago.
Brazier also enjoys some of the perks of local hauling. Since he’s been at McKenzie he’s dealt with the same customers. “They give me a key to their business,” Brazier says. And when he’s hauling propane, which he does most of the time, he gets to go home every night; any other cargo can keep him out a few nights a week, if not a whole week, working from another terminal.
Richard Healy, vice president of safety and compliance for McKenzie, says the company is fortunate to have Brazier. “He exemplifies a safe and professional driver,” he says. “If all professional drivers were like him, there would be no issues on the road.”
Brazier also goes out of his way to help anyone stranded on the road.
“If I can’t do them any physical help, like changing a tire, I’ll call someone or go on down the road and send someone back for them. I help any way I can.”
Brazier’s plans include more than just improving the industry’s image; he wants to buy another truck so his aunt’s son can drive. “I told him to get a little experience with another company and then come talk to me,” Brazier says. “I’m going to buy a new truck for him to drive, and I’ll drive the old one because I can keep it on the road. I’ll have a job for somebody, so he’ll get a little, and I will, too.”
GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING OWNER-OPERATORS: Being able to maximize all the resources available in order to minimize operating costs. Owner-operators can cope with this challenge by working smart on a day-to-day basis. I always try to plan my work and work my plan.
WHAT MAKES YOU SUCCESSFUL: Staying informed about the trucking industry. I have always believed that the quality of each business decision I make is directly proportional to the quality of the information I have to make such a decision. Also, showing our customers respect and appreciation has helped me keep a strong customer base.
HOW TO IMPROVE THE INDUSTRY’S IMAGE: I try to look sharp and conduct myself in a safe, courteous and professional manner. I take pride in my company and myself. On several occasions I have applied the Golden Rule by stopping and helping stranded motorists.
HOW DO YOU TRACK EXPENSES: I keep all receipts daily and post these records monthly. I have a great CPA and am blessed with a wonderful wife who is very organized in helping me keep my records and journals. Above all, she doesn’t spend all of our income.
WORST THING ABOUT TRUCKING: Staying away from my family.
BEST THING ABOUT TRUCKING: Being my own boss.
HOW I MET MY WIFE: At a bus stop in front of my grandmother’s house. She was on her way to work.
WIFE’S BIGGEST COMPLAINT: When I bring my truck home.
KEYS TO A GOOD MARRIAGE: Trust, faithfulness, understanding, love and steadfastness. Above all, forgiveness.
DREAM VACATION: Hawaii.
FAVORITE MUSIC: Southern gospel.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Any kind of Western.
FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW: “The Cosby Show.”
FAVORITE FOOD: Seafood.
LEAST FAVORITE FOOD: Red meat.
PET PEEVE: I do not like for my wife to organize my briefcase.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Becoming an owner-operator.
MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: I fell in a hole and broke my ankle.
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: Having my own trucking company.
MOTTO: Believe in the company and its standard and support it with your best abilities.
Know someone who should be our Trucker of the Month? E-mail ovdeditors@eTrucker.com.