Golden gift of gab

FAMILY: Son, Carter Williams Jr., 35
RIG: 2000 Freightliner Classic
CAREER: Started as an owner-operator in 1999; accident free
FREIGHT: Refrigerated meat and general freight
INCOME: $80,000
LEASED TO: National Carriers

Carter Williams, 52, of Atlanta, has done a lot. But no matter what he does – soldier, car audio shop owner, insurance salesman, truck driver – he gives it all he’s got.

“I work about 330 days out of the year,” Williams says.

Williams spent 15 years in the U.S. Army, where he taught biological and chemical warfare courses.

“I taught how to make [bio-chem] bombs, how to survive them, when it is likely the enemy will use them,” Williams says. “I was also a demolition expert.”

He was stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., for the final nine years of his military career. He left the service during the downsizing that followed the demise of the Soviet Union.

The military personnel cuts affected Williams’ businesses in Junction City, Kan., where he owned eight car stereo shops and auto detailing centers, all called Big Boys. Williams was able to keep the shops open for only two years after the cuts. “Fort Riley went from 25,000 to less than 5,000 troops, and I lost a lot of business,” he says.

Williams next became an insurance salesman. “I worked with MetLife for one year and won every award they had to offer,” he says. “I liked the business, but I wanted something with more money.”

Trucking seemed to fit that bill, so he earned his commercial driver’s license and became a company driver for Schneider National. He moved to several different companies before becoming an owner-operator in 1999, when he bought a 1996 Freightliner Classic and began hauling for FFE. Williams says he tries to buy used trucks when fuel is high because truck prices are often low.

That’s not the only business tactic Williams uses. He keeps his tires properly inflated and gets his oil changed at recommended intervals. He also installed a Proheat auxiliary heating unit that burns only an eighth of a gallon of fuel an hour, thereby reducing idling.

“I have alarm systems that you can control with your cell phone,” Williams says. “If someone is tampering with the truck, it will send me a message. It will give you the option of setting off the alarm, or I can come and get them. I prefer to come and get them.”

Williams was in his hotel at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas when he received a phone message that the truck was being tampered with. He ran to investigate, but the suspect had fled, apparently after seeing the flashing light in the truck.

Williams adds to his driving income the bonuses he receives as a recruiter for National Carriers. Most bonuses are near $500, but some are as high as $2,500.

“I have recruited about 50 people,” says Williams, the company’s top driver-recruiter. Also, “I have taken a whole bunch of company drivers and made them owner-operators. And it was a whole lot of people who thought they couldn’t do it.”

Bill Duncan, Williams’ dispatcher at National Carriers, has heard of Williams’ successes.

“From what I understand, he meets you at the truck stop and gets your number,” Duncan says. Williams always seems to make his follow-up call the same day that the prospective recruit was ticked off by something at the other company, Duncan says.

“We have on-the-road recruiters at National Carriers, and they have to fit certain criteria,” says Jill Maschmeier, National Carriers’ compliance director and former recruiting director. “They have to be safe and comply with the DOT regulations and rules, and they have to be very professional and polished, and Carter fits that bill.”

Williams says he works hard to keep a professional appearance.

“I like to have starched clothes on,” he says. “I like to be really neat and courteous. You only have to deal with these people for five minutes, so why don’t you treat them good?”

“He just has a conversational recruiting technique,” Maschmeier says. “He listens to the driver he’s interviewing and tries to match what we have with their needs. It is easy to sell something you believe in.”

FAVORITE LOAD: Meat.

LEAST FAVORITE LOAD: Hazmat.

MOST UNUSUAL LOAD: A heart machine. It only weighed 70 pounds, but they wanted to use the whole trailer.

BEST VACATION: To Austria. I was in Germany and went there to go skiing. It was cold, but the women were gorgeous.

BEST MEMORY: My son being born. And when I came back from being overseas for three years.

FAVORITE MOVIE: Crimson Tide.

PET PEEVE: The excuses that people use in the world for not succeeding. They use race, where they come from, their parents, anything but themselves.

GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Serving in the military.

MOST EMBARRASSING MOMENT: In the military, we were on maneuvers, and I didn’t have a chance to use the bathroom. We got on a truck, and it started bouncing up and down. I had to use the bathroom, and they hung me outside the truck as we were going down the road at 60 mph.

DREAM JOB: To be president of a trucking company. I think I’ll get there.

MOTTO: Do what you mean, and mean what you say.
–Lance Orr

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