By Al Muskewitz
DES MOINES, Iowa –When it comes to life on the road, James Hawes is no stranger to the trucking industry. He came to TMC Transportation in the fall of 2013 and it didn’t take long for him to start imparting his wisdom of 20 years behind the wheel on his fellow drivers.
Hawes, a long-time flatbedder, was drawn to TMC by the trucks and the home time promised in the application and has remained for the family-oriented atmosphere “that’s really important to me.”
Once he got in the program, the Flint, Texas, native was drawn into the training the company offered. He remembers what it was like to be the new guy in the fleet, being handed a set of keys his first day on the job and told if he had any questions to ask somebody, and wanted to help make it an easy transition for other drivers starting their new careers.
Hawes, TMC’s Trainer of the Month for August, puts his trainees to work right away, but keeps his style laid back and personable.
“I try to get my guys out doing the job and learning as much as they can, but I like to keep it light and make sure I’m building good relationships with my trainees,” he said.
Driver trainers are vital to the TMC training department and each month a trainer is recognized for demonstrating outstanding qualities TMC looks for in a trainer. The Trainer of the Month is chosen based on their safety record and the safety performance of their trainees, the number of drivers trained and the retention percentage of those drivers.
Hawes has trained 45 drivers in the five and a half years he’s been training and actually had a trainee with him running a load of lumber into Iowa when he spoke to Wright Media for this story. “I don’t spend a lot of time in the truck by myself,” he said.
Hawes, 42, said the recognition as Trainer of the Month “really caught me surprise.” He credits trainer coordinator Jeremy Meyer and fleet manager Clint Peterson as the “two people that make this possible for me.”
But there is someone else just as instrumental in the process. It actually was his wife now of 19 years, Eilish Hawes-Fraser, who sent him the application to TMC after his local job closed its yard, so that’s where the training wheels really started turning. Eilish is a former driver and before coming off the road the two were team drivers for several years.
“I feel she deserves some of the recognition also,” Hawes said. “If not for her, I would never have known about this great company.”
TMC Transportation is the nation’s largest employee-owned flatbed transportation company providing services and supply-chain management solutions throughout the 48 contiguous states. It is known for its integrity, innovation, superior safety record and dedication to quality and customer service. Its claim-free, on-time delivery record is the best in the business and is consistently recognized by its customers.
So what is Hawes’ favorite part of training?
“Always having someone else around to help with tarps!” he jokes. “But in all seriousness, seeing these guys make it to their own trucks. Getting that call and knowing that someone got their start because of the help you gave them is the most rewarding.
“I remember my first one and getting that call that he passed everything and got his first truck. That was what kind of got me hooked on the whole training thing. That is what I was looking for when I started training these guys, hearing the excitement in their voice when they got their truck.”
Al Muskewitz is editor-in-chief for Wright Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover photo: James Hawes (right) and TMC vice president of driver training Jeff Wisgerhof.
By Al Muskewitz