It’s a few days before Thanksgiving and truck driver Mark “Butch” Terry is hoping that Bennett will be able to assign him the next load soon. He has just delivered a drive train – a component for a cooling system – in Hampton GA, not far from Bennett’s headquarters in McDonough, GA, where he is now staying in his truck until the next job. While he’s here, he’ll get a chance to rest, catch up with Bennett employees and use the opportunity to satisfy his annual in-person safety meeting requirement.
Butch is walking around the office chatting with staff members when Lawrence Frye, who manages Bennett’s drivers for specialized and heavy haul services, waves Butch into his office and asks him to give input on the topic of safety. Butch agrees with Lawrence that having proper tie-downs for the equipment being transported is key.
“When picking up a load, you try to make sure you’ve got all your bases covered, and the biggest thing you need to worry about is securement,” says the tall and trim driver, who has zero CSA points in the categories that matter most to Bennett – health and fitness, unsafe driving, roadside inspections, vehicle maintenance and accidents. “If I don’t feel that the load is secured properly, I’m not going to feel good about moving it.”
A specialist in hauling 130,000- to 160,000-pound machine heads for wind energy systems, Butch is currently in between wind jobs. Butch is a full time contractor with Bennett. The company keeps him busy hauling other jobs when the wind business slows down, but he expects his next job will be wind. He just has to wait a few days. He knows it’s unlikely he’ll get home to Boerne, TX, a small town outside of San Antonio, in time for Thanksgiving. Shrugging his shoulders, he says, “I’m used to being out there on my own.”
Butch’s orange Kenworth truck stands out from all of the other trucks in Bennett’s yard. It has the biggest sleeping quarters and gigantic exhaust pipes on either side of the cab. He says he tries to keep his truck and trailer in mint condition. He knows he has to commit to spending the money. “I try to make those repairs ahead of time,” he says, referring to his truck and 13-axle trailer he needs to haul the machine hubs. He doesn’t have the trailer today because he’s been using one of Bennett’s smaller trailers until he gets the next wind job. “One small thing can just explode into something big, if you’re not careful.”
Just as he suspected, Butch ends up staying at Bennett through Thanksgiving, but he doesn’t miss out on a good Thanksgiving meal or the camaraderie of family. Every year, Bennett serves Thanksgiving lunch to its family of employees and drivers who are in between jobs.
By the end of the week, Butch finally gets his next job. He leaves McDonough the following Sunday to pick up a small piece of wind equipment in Florida that he loads on Monday to take back to Texas for delivery to a wind farm. He’ll get a chance to stop at home where he lives with his sister, and spend some time with his cat. But not for long. Looks like the wind business is picking back up again.