TRUCKER: Bob Roberts, 44, of Wichita, Kan.
FAMILY: Wife, Donna; one son and two stepdaughters
RIG: 2002 Peterbilt 379
ACCIDENT-FREE: 2 million miles
MILES A YEAR: 140,000 to 150,000
MOTTO: Treat people the way you want to be treated.
Like a good retailer, Bob Roberts believes the customer is always No. 1. “You’ve got to remember who pays the bills,” he says. “It benefits you every day if you treat your customers right. They’ll have more loads for you.”
Roberts, 44, of Wichita, Kan., finds that following the Golden Rule has served him well in his 17-year trucking career. However, treating people the way you want to be treated doesn’t apply only to trucking.
“It goes hand in hand with the way you live,” he says. “You have to get along with your neighbors, right? Even though sometimes you wish they’d put their cats up.”
Roberts says he wishes more people in trucking made respecting other people a top priority. He has worked with people who treated him like their servants, but that hasn’t been the case since he’s been working with livestock.
“You can’t beat hauling cattle. The people are better,” he says. “These are country people who treat you like you’re somebody.”
Professional driving has fulfilled a dream for Roberts, who has wanted to drive a truck since he was 5 years old. “My uncle was a trucker, and I used to go out with him all the time,” he says.
Roberts transported produce for National Carriers in the late 1980s and was leased to LM Trucking Inc. in Wichita in the 1990s. He got his own authority three years ago.
Larry Maggard, owner of LM Trucking and a longtime friend of Roberts, says when it comes to trucking Roberts is “totally business” and a role model for other truckers.
“He just got his job done without any question,” Maggard says. “No late deliveries. No shortages.”
Even though they no longer work together, Roberts and Maggard still get together every week to play golf.
Roberts and his wife, Donna, have been married for almost four years and have a son, Tyler, who’s almost a year old. Roberts also has two stepdaughters.
He says the key to a good marriage is honesty, and his wife’s understanding of the trucking business helps their relationship, too. “She knows it’s not all fun and games out here,” he says. That’s especially true for him now that he has to leave a young son behind when he’s on the road, but he knows it’s something he has to do.
Roberts says he’s proud of his family, as well as his professional advancement.
“When I got started in trucking, one of my goals was to be in Overdrive,” he says. He adds that achieving this goal makes him feels he’s at a higher level in trucking, and he wants to encourage others to hold themselves to higher standards.
He says truckers should present themselves in a respectable manner to help improve the industry’s image and to make their families proud, Roberts says.
“I don’t want my son saying to his friends, ‘Oh that’s my dad over there, the one with the full moon,'” he says, referring to the embarrassing sight of a heavy man with sagging pants. “I want my son to be proud of me.”
Roberts also suggests that truckers take good care of themselves and their equipment and limit foul language. “When talking on the CB radio, talk like you are at the dinner table at your mother’s house,” he says.
Roberts thinks it’s important for truckers to keep their driving records clean, too.
“Pay attention,” says Roberts, who has more than 2 million accident-free miles. “Give yourself plenty of room and don’t be tailgating people. That’s the worst thing.”
Truckers should try not to get upset when motorists drive irresponsibly.
“You just laugh at them,” he says, adding a laugh of his own. “If you get upset you’re going to have high blood pressure, and if you get high blood pressure, you won’t pass your physical.”
GREATEST CHALLENGE FACING OWNER-OPERATORS TODAY: Fuel cost and insurance cost.
HOW DO YOU KEEP TRACK OF EXPENSES: I keep a weekly trip envelope where all receipts go – fuel, tolls, weight tickets, maintenance, hotel, etc. When I get home, I enter them into my ledger. I keep a monthly total and a year-to-date total. Then I can look back at last year and see if there are ways I can improve.
HOW I MET MY WIFE: My wife worked at a Freightliner dealership in Wichita, and I met her there through a friend.
FAVORITE STATE TO DRIVE IN: Kansas. I’m close to home then.
LEAST FAVORITE STATE TO DRIVE IN: Anywhere in the Northeast.
FAVORITE MUSIC: Old or classic country.
FAVORITE TELEVISION SHOW: Everybody Loves Raymond.
FAVORITE FOOD: Steak. Everybody should eat plenty of beef. We need the business.
LEAST FAVORITE FOOD: Chinese food. When I get up from the table I’m still hungry.
HOBBY: Golf. I’ve been playing for 20 years. I play every weekend on Sunday if the weather is nice.
DREAM VACATION: A trip to St. Andrews, Scotland, to play golf.
Want to nominate someone for Trucker of the Month? E-mail ovdeditors@eTrucker.com.