TT- Hi Kendrick, first off congratulations for being named TOTAL’s Trainer of the year.
K- Well, thank you.
TT- Tell us a little bit about yourself.
K- I'm from Alabama... no kids. I’m married and pretty much a family guy. I have some sisters and brothers and I'm big on family.
TT- That's great to hear. How long have you been driving trucks?
K- I started driving in 2019, so a little over two and a half years almost.
TT- Was TOTAL the first company that you drove for, or did you drive somewhere else?
K- First and only.
TT- That’s what we like to hear. What did you do before you decided to become a truck driver?
K- Before trucking I worked at a lumber company. I was building roof trusses.
TT- What made you decide that you wanted to be a truck driver?
K- Well, I was looking for something I could get involved in where I could find some growth. It was a small, family-owned company place, and it was great. I wasn't being mistreated or anything like that, I was being productive. I just realized that I was getting a little older and I really didn't have a real true skill set. I mean, I learned how to build trusses on the job, but I needed to learn something that would give me a more marketable skill set.
TT- Did you know people that were driving trucks? How did you get into truck driving itself? How did that come up as an option?
K- Yeah, I have a couple of associates that were driving, and they kept trying to push me toward doing it. “You need to go get the CDL and come drive, come on drive,” but I kept putting it off and really kind of just had the humbug about taking the plunge. I really wasn't thinking about doing it on a long-term professional level. They kept at me though. Part of it was a financial decision but I also wanted more job security. I was already decent at driving... I mean traveling and stuff like that was already second nature to me so trucking kind of went along with something I was already comfortable with doing. So, I went to the community college where I got my GED, they have a CDL program over there. I started to train for my CDL on weekends while I continued to build trusses.
TT- So what made you decide to choose Total?
K- A recruiter came out to the school while I was getting my license independently, I didn't go through a truck driving school because I just didn't have any sense of direction, I didn't really want to be committed to nobody. So, I looked for a way to get the license myself by getting in and getting financing. Anyway, while I was at the class, one of your field recruiters came out. He was one of the few that actually showed up like they said they would. He seemed really genuine, I took the information, and I went home and sat down and went over it. His presentation and the things that he said grabbed my attention. So, when I was actually ready to do something with my license, I contacted him and told him that I was interested in seeing about coming over to get the experience and get started.
TT- Great. When you came to TOTAL to start your OTR training… Was it easy? Or was it more of a challenge than you expected?
K- Everything was fast and smooth; I really didn’t have any hang-ups. I came through the orientation and straight to the backing range. They had just started it at the time. We were like the first group to go out there. I spent four days down there. Shortly after that, I was matched up with a trainer, I jumped on the truck with him, and we rolled. Towards the end of my OTR training he had some home time, and I was kind of caught in the wind. Do I sit still? They made sure that I didn’t, and they put me with a secondary trainer to finish off the last short portion of the hours that I needed. I upgraded for the first time. Then I got assigned my truck and I decided to go solo. I didn't want to team, I wanted to learn everything on my own. I didn't want to have to be tied to nobody. I wanted to try to figure this out. I took the training I got from those two guys, and I went and started running solo.
TT- So what was it that made you think after you've been driving solo that you wanted to give training a shot?
K- I like growth, I mean running solo was fine. I had no issue with it. And I found a way to do it and be productive at it. I wanted to add something on with it though. I'm a person who likes a challenge and I wanted a change. I wanted more than what I was doing, so, I really felt like I could do this after being in the truck with a trainer and having someone do it with me and help me out. I felt like I would be able to do the same thing. So, I jumped into the training class the first of January 2020, and I tried all last year and somehow, some way, I guess I caught on to it pretty decently. Because I'm speaking with you….
TT-What do you think is the most challenging part of being a trainer?
One of the most challenging parts is finding a way to reach the students, to explain something to them. Because everybody doesn't receive things the same way. You’ve got to be patient enough to watch for that and figure out what's coming across to them and what isn’t.
TT-What do you like most about working for TOTAL?
K- Well, I mean, to me from the first phase of talking to someone as a recruiter to now everyone is approachable. I like the fact that you can talk to anybody that you really need to with the open-door policy. You don't see that in a whole lot of places. This is new to me. I mean, this all I know as far as trucking, but I actually feel like a team player. And that's what I consider myself as, a team player. I mean, everybody here, they gave me the chance that I truly needed to get in this industry. I haven't had a bad moment. Period. From the beginning to now, I haven't had a bad moment. I haven't had a bad fleet manager or dispatch… None of that, you know.
>TT- Do you have any tips for folks to help have a good relationship with your FM?
K-Well, it's all about communicating. I mean, once I learned the job, I think it's about communication. Some people have to be micromanaged, some people don't, you know, so like, once you learn the job and what it is and how it really operates, there really should be no issues. You know how the load and how the process goes, everybody's not always going to give you exactly what it is that you want. I just don't mind having a little what I call a little give. I tell the people in the truck, you aren’t gonna always, win. Sometimes it's gonna be the other side. Meaning we are still a team, but “they '' get that one, meaning the fleet manager or the low planner. But hey, after the fact it isn’t going to keep going that way. It's going to go in your favor also sometimes, so you have to consider the given situation, sometimes you gotta have a little give in this to actually keep moving and to be productive. At the end of the day this is a business, so you’ve got to think on a business level, you can't go personal with it.
TT- What do you think that it takes to become TOTAL’s Trainer Of The Year?
K- I think when my students get on the truck, I listen to them. I put myself back in their shoes again, because not all that long ago I was once there. At the same time, I want them to see that it is possible that they can get this. I won't give up on them. I'll push them. I'm not gonna give up on them and I'm not gonna let them give up on themselves. When I see that start to happen, I find a way to reach and dig to lift them up and out of a slump. To point out other good sides of this, I just try to stay as productive as possible, as much as possible; I stress time management and being safe as well. All of them won’t be easy, trust that. I have a great deal of patience, I accept and take them for face value and acknowledge what they go through in order to learn this with them, to give the growth that they need to become solo drivers and to drive.
>TT- Is there anything else on your mind that you'd like to tell drivers or other people in the company? This is your moment. Anything you'd like to say?
K- Stay safe. I say, each day that we can end without incident, you are winning. That's my one thought on this. People, stay safe. And look out for each other, be team players. I mean, it ain't always gonna go in your favor every day. But look for the solution when you do have a problem, don't dwell so much on the problem itself. Start looking for solutions to fix it. You know, there’s got to be a way to fix it. Let's find a solution and push on.
TT- Thanks for talking to us and for all you do in helping create the next generation of Total Drivers.