He is not just a man with a life long passion for trucks, he is a loving husband, father and traveler. When we think about good things at United, we often think about Jim Morgan. He is a great example of the discipline, reliability, customer service and positive attitude we like in a driver and all around he is a good person. Today we are going to share Jim’s story.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I have been in the trucking business my whole life. My dad was a truck driver in early sixties and my uncle is still driving a truck today. I grew up around trucks and when I was a child in Idaho, you were able to get your CDL at 18. I took this opportunity and drove trucks until I got married to Kim. I then took a job in warehouse management and logistics where I loaded trucks for over twenty years. After our two daughters graduated and started their own families, I decided to return to driving long haul. I started working for United Transport about four years ago.
What inspires you and pumps up your energy?
A few things that motivate me: First, any job that I have held I have always given my one-hundred percent. At United this means that I deliver on time all the time. Second, I take great pride in being safe on the road and in having never been involved in an accident. Third, I take good care of my truck. I maintain the cleanliness of my trailer to ensure the product I’m delivering is stored in a sanitary place. Essentially, I am motivated by my desire to be safe, the safety of others and the satisfaction of our customers.
How would you summarize your first year of truck driving career?
It was a good year. I was a young man, single, carefree and on the road already. I could drive a semi-truck at eighteen as long as I stayed within Idaho. I couldn’t wait to turn twenty-one and get that endorsement and travel out of state! I had a nice Peterbilt long nose pit, 18 speed, which didn’t have the walking sleeper, you had to crawl in, but I felt like I was on the top of the world. That was a fun time! One lesson that I learned during my first year was to be more careful and how to apply that to the new life I was living on the road. That has factored in to the careful driver I am today, both in and out of the truck.
How do you balance out life and work?
United Transport has been generous in allowing me to take time off when I need to. For example, my daughter lives in Pennsylvania and I am able to deliver to the area and take a few days off to spend time with her. I really like that United Transport understands the importance of family. Another example: My father fell ill and was hospitalized last year. I feared for his life and United Transport allowed me to drive over two-hundred miles without charging me for fuel. They told me to take as much time as I needed. It means a lot that I was able to be with my dad and see him recover.
And finally, I had a really bad cold in January and United didn’t want me to rest in the truck. They paid for a hotel room so that I could rest properly. United Transport treats their employees like they are family and is like a small family itself. They value me and show it in the way they take care of me and make sure I can see my family.
In terms of work and life balance, I am fortunate to drive with my wife. When we decide that we need a break from our truck, I let Eugene (my dispatcher) know that we would like three days off. Then we can go exploring, check into a hotel and enjoy the comforts of a house. Also, United Transport allows pets to travel with you. We have a cat named Sahara and a dog named Cocoa and they brighten our life on the road. We enjoy taking Cocoa out at rest stops and playing with her in the sun and grass.
How do you fight tiredness?
I exercise daily, eat well and stay hydrated. As far as sleeping goes, I make sure I get my sleep and unplug fairly early. I listen to my body and rest when I need to. I am a morning person and I like to get on the road early. I don’t normally get tired when driving. I have heard from other drivers about how they blast AC, play loud music or drink energy drinks. I never use those methods. I think that if you lead a healthy lifestyle you don’t need those methods.
I like to read a book before bed or listen to one as my wife and I enjoy audio books.
How do you plan for the route?
I wake up in the morning and I do my pre-trip inspection which includes mapping my route and calculating the mileage. I also fuel up at the end of the day rather than first thing in the morning. Mornings and afternoons are the busiest times for fueling so you may want to stay away at those times.
What in your opinion are key qualities of a great dispatcher?
In my opinion, key qualities in a dispatcher are: Strong communication skills, strong interpersonal skills, highly organized, forward thinking, flexible and always available. When I think of a great dispatcher I think of my current dispatcher. Eugene is the best dispatcher I have worked with and I have worked with many. Eugene always gives me new freight before I drop off my current freight. He is an organized professional, plans well and helps travel go smoothly.
How do you manage to gain respect from staff at pick up/delivery and dispatchers?
It can get discouraging when you are at the docks and you have been waiting for anywhere from five to seven hours. It may not be easy at first, however, you just have to be patient and understanding.
I think overwhelming them with kindness will encourage them to help get you loaded or unloaded faster.
You can call your dispatch and ask for detention pay according to your company policy. It is important to stand up for yourself in professional way so that you get paid for your time. That being said, it’s crucial to have a good relationship with your dispatcher. Remember to communicate respectfully, thankfully and with patience.
Could you share any advice for beginners?
Always be cautious of your surroundings. Expect the unexpected. Being adaptable, able to think on your feet and out of the box is key. Keep your truck clean! It is good for you and the business. Don’t be afraid to ask another driver for help. Don’t hesitate to get out of your truck when you park, it’s not possible to see everything through your mirror.
What is the most exciting and the least exciting about life on the road?
I would say that the least exciting experience on the road is having to shower in places that are not yours.
The most exciting thing about being on the road is admiring the beautiful scenery of places we haven’t been and places we have been many times. I am grateful I get to share this with my wife, Sahara and Cocoa through United.