The Nth degree

1960 Born in St. Louis.
1977 Joined the Marines after quitting high school.
1979 Worked hanging cable wire for a New York construction company.
1983 Married Karla Wilson of Jacksonville, Fla.
1984 Drove for a small-fleet owner-operator. Son, Glenn Jr., born.
1987 Hired as a company driver for KLLM.
1988 Daughter, Ashley, born.
1992 Became a leased owner-operator with Prime Inc. First owned truck was a ’92 Kenworth T600.
1995 Took possession of his second leased truck, a ’95 FLD Freightliner.
1998 Took possession of his third truck, a ’98 Freightliner Century.
2001 Received 1 Million Safe Miles award from Prime.
2002 Took possession of his fourth truck, a ’02 Freightliner Classic.
2005 Named Prime’s Owner-Operator of the Year. Took possession of his fifth truck, a ’05 Freightliner.

When Glenn Horack made the switch from company driver to owner-operator in 1992, he was not the savvy trucker he is today. “When I first started it was pretty much hammer down wherever you go, and I’ve slowed down a whole bunch.” Now leased to Prime Inc. of Springfield, Mo., the 44-year-old also has grown financially wise – taking home $87,000 last year. He used to heap his expense receipts into a box and plow through them at year’s end. Now, he immediately records each expense in a notebook while on the road and pays a bookkeeper to ensure his tracking is accurate.

He also has installed a Rigmaster auxiliary power unit on his lease-purchase truck from Prime, so that he need never idle. If the company had not offered him the device at a discounted rate, “I would’ve done it myself anyway,” Horack says.

Horack also handles minor repairs, such as replacing fuel filters, by himself. “Knowing the basics of how a truck works can help you limp somewhere rather than get a tow truck,” Horack says.

The St. Louis native came to trucking when a friend hired him as a driver in his small reefer fleet. Then Horack moved to KLLM as a company driver, then to Prime in 1992, signing immediately onto the lease-purchase program. Except for a brief stint at Dart Transit Co., Horack has remained with Prime for much of 14 years.

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Horack is taking his current ride – his fifth leased from Prime – onto the show circuit. He already has picked up awards in a companywide contest and third place in the Best Freightliner category at this year’s Pride & Polish at the Great American Trucking Show.

Horack’s 2005 Freightliner Classic with a 500-hp Detroit Diesel is decked out in a patriotic theme. The front grille has 102 red, white and blue bulbs forming a U.S. flag. Inside are a more traditional U.S. flag and red, white and blue 3-D vinyl. Written on the exterior is: “Freedom isn’t free.”

“That’s the truth as far as I’m concerned,” says Horack, whose family includes several veterans.

Upon hearing truckers at GATS reminisce about the “good old days” of trucking 20 years ago, Horack acknowledges that traffic is indeed worse today: “Even 10 years ago, in Wyoming, you’d drive and not see another car. Now, you see a steady stream of cars.”

Mostly, though, he scoffs at his colleagues’ nostalgia. Today’s trucks are roomier and safer than ever, he says. “If they could go back and drive them again, they’d change their minds.” He remembers uncomfortable seats and no climate control.

Horack has fond memories of taking his son on cross-country trips. “He was only 6 years old, and he could tell you how to get anywhere in the country,” Horack says.

“I enjoyed the time I spent with my dad,” says Glenn Horack Jr., a landscaper. He recalls beautiful scenery outside the window as they traveled every state but Alaska, Hawaii and Maine.

Now the senior Horack is passing his knowledge to younger drivers as a CDL instructor for Prime. Horack says he teaches safety, respect for other drivers and property, and the importance of slowing down. “You can be a courteous driver and still deliver your freight on time,” Horack says.

“He takes care of the customer,” says Trish Brewer, Horack’s fleet manager at Prime. “He’s not the type of person who says, ‘I’m going to drop this here, and you can come take care of it.’ He’s always going to go to the Nth degree in helping someone.”

Brewer says Horack assists owner-operators in dire straits. She says Horack will take a driver through a list of success criteria: conserving fuel, tracking expenses, forgoing advances, remaining in constant contact with one’s dispatcher.

“He tells them up front to work hard,” says Adam DeVizia, a Prime recruiter who has traveled with Horack to trucking shows.

Horack has no plans to leave trucking until retirement. He actually tried once or twice, even picking up a job at a chrome factory.

The monotonous schedule didn’t suit him. “I was back to driving real soon,” Horack says. Horack says he’s drawn to the owner-operator lifestyle “because I’m not much on people telling me what to do every day.”

Glenn Horack met his wife while working as a bouncer at a St. Louis bar. The couple’s first date was an early breakfast at a Denny’s restaurant, where they talked for hours.

At 17, with a high school classmate, Horack killed a deer on his first hunting trip. “I was just sitting in the woods, and he popped up, and I shot him.” The boys dressed the deer, then cooked it over a campfire. “It was 10 years after that before I got the next one.”

DO YOU KNOW an exemplary owner-operator with 15 years of trucking experience and an excellent safety record? Write to Steven Mackay, Overdrive, P.O. Box 3187, Tuscaloosa, AL 35403, or e-mail [email protected]. Honorees are considered for Trucker of the Year.

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