TRUCKERS: Roy Kendrick, 53, and Carol Kendrick, 50, of Liberal, Kan.
TRUCK: 2002 Peterbilt 379
LEASED TO: National Carriers
FREIGHT: Produce and meat
ACCIDENT-FREE: Roy, 30 years; Carol, 16 years
HONORS: Safe driving awards from National Carriers and former employers. National Carriers Drivers of the Month, May 2002
Roy Kendrick decided to teach his wife Carol how to drive a truck almost 17 years ago. He needed a co-driver to help him haul livestock for Great Western Express out of Fort Worth, Texas.
“The first year we were together in the truck I hated him,” Carol says, laughing. “He had no patience. He screamed and hollered.” Roy says that for him, too, the first year on the road with Carol was rough.
Looking back now, they say that friendship is the key to a good marriage and a successful trucking career. Their associates at National Carriers, who have watched them closely, agree.
Carol says that team trucking showed her and Roy that though they had been married for several years, there were a lot of things they didn’t know about each other.
“We didn’t see each other very often during the first six years of our marriage because Roy was always on the road,” Carol says. “We had to learn to like each other. We learned to be friends.”
Roy admits that he was easily frustrated when trying to teach his wife about trucking.
“I didn’t know how to train anybody,” Roy says. “I didn’t even remember learning myself. My daddy used to have trucks, so I have been into trucking all my life.”
Roy began driving in 1968 after high school. Two years later he was drafted into the U.S. Army and continued driving a truck.
“My first truck was a 1968 Chevrolet single-axle with a gas engine. It had no A/C, no power steering and no sleeper.” Though equipment has improved, Roy feels truck driver attitudes have not. “Everybody’s out for themselves,” he says. “They don’t help each other anymore.”
But for the Kendricks, lending a hand is a priority. Ginny Hansen, West Coast coordinator at National Carriers, says Carol and Roy are always willing to help when there are problems with other loads. “They’ll drop what they’re doing and take care of National Carriers,” she says.
And Carol and Roy are there for each other. “They alternate shifts, and together they do the job just the way it’s supposed to be done,” Hansen says. “They never argue! With them being married all this time and being on the truck all the time, I don’t know how they do it.”
Roy says their relationship works because, after being married for 22 years and trucking together for most of that time, they really know each other. “We don’t ever fight,” Roy says, “because we know what to expect from each other.”
Lex Mendenhall, manager of Dallas operations for National Carriers, says the Kendricks’ relationship has helped them be better truckers. “One picks the other up,” he says.
Carol says that her safe driving record is the result of simply paying attention. “You just have to keep your eyes open and constantly watch your mirrors,” says Carol, who learned that lesson when she drove a school bus for three years in Lubbock, Texas.
Roy says that he and Carol have adapted to the challenges of low rates and high fuel prices. “We have considerably slowed down on speed to conserve fuel and really watch idle time,” he says.
Hansen, who has known Carol and Roy for four years, stresses that the Kendricks are not only her colleagues, but also her friends. “I call them when I have a problem, and they just take care of me. They’re like family to me,” she says.
Also close to the Kendricks are their three Chihuahuas and a chocolate poodle. “They all have their own personalities,” Carol says of the dogs. “You get a big kick out of watching them.”
“They don’t talk back to you like your kids do,” Roy says, laughing. Roy and Carol have five children from previous marriages.
Carol and Roy, both of whom have driven solo, say they wouldn’t trade driving together for anything. “It’s nice to have somebody to rely on,” Carol says. “You get lonely out there by yourself.”
BEST THING ABOUT BEING A TRUCKER: Roy: Independence.
WORST THING ABOUT BEING A TRUCKER: Carol: Long hours, loading docks and meeting really horrible people. And I get tired sometimes and really miss having a home life.
FAVORITE STATE TO DRIVE IN: Roy: Oregon. Carol: Arizona
LEAST FAVORITE STATE TO DRIVE IN: Both: Arkansas
FAVORITE TV SHOW: Roy: The Andy Griffith Show.
FAVORITE FOOD: Both: Mexican
DREAM VACATION: Roy: I’d like to go to Hawaii.
HOBBIES: Roy: Sports! Sports! Sports! I like to watch and play sports. I used to be really into football, but now I’m getting more into baseball. Carol: Ceramics, puzzles.
PLANS: Roy: Hopefully in ten years we can set back and retire and tell stories to grandkids about all this. Carol: My biggest goal is to get everything paid off and take a little time off and relax, not having to live from paycheck to paycheck and load to load. And I want to open a restaurant.
MOTTO: Roy: I just try to do the job and be on time.
To nominate a Trucker of the Month, e-mail lcrackel@eTrucker.com.