Saturday, March 17, 2018

Finances, boredom spurred driver’s return to trucking

Monday, May 10, 2010

Greg McFarland finds life as a company driver less stressful than that of an owner-operator, but no matter what, he loves driving a truck. (The Trucker:BARB KAMPBELL)
Greg McFarland finds life as a company driver less stressful than that of an owner-operator, but no matter what, he loves driving a truck. (The Trucker:BARB KAMPBELL)

How long driving: 16 years
Hauls: Flatbed
Route: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri
Company driver for Daryl Thomason Trucking
Lives in: Grove, Oklahoma

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Greg McFarland used to be an owner-operator, but now he’s a company driver and he says life is a lot less stressful this way.

“Now I can just go do the load without having to decide which one pays better,” McFarland said.

He drives for Daryl Thomason Trucking and said he hauls whatever will go on a flatbed. He’d only been back driving as a company driver for about a month when The Trucker talked to him at the Petro at the Galloway exit on I-40 in Arkansas.

McFarland was an owner-operator from 1997 until 2009. Over that time he owned three trucks. During the year he took off from 2009 until a month before we spoke, he worked with a local asphalt company and also owns a mowing business that kept him busy.

He got back into trucking because “truthfully it’s not all about money. The main reason I came back” McFarland said, “is because of finances and being home every night. I got bored.”

McFarland said the economy has picked back up from where it was last year.

He’s currently driving a regional route that takes him to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas. McFarland’s favorite place to drive is Texas and over his career he’s driven all 48 states, Canada, and Alaska.

“I don’t do south of the border,” McFarland added. “And I never will.”

He’s been married six years and has six children from his current and former marriages. The children who live in his house range from age from 4 to 18. He lives on a lake and said that’s a great place to be when he’s not driving and he gets home every weekend.

“I fish,” McFarland said. “Everybody fishes. I don’t care for vacations because I eat, sleep and truck,” he explained, adding that he is just more comfortable out on the road doing what he does for his job.

McFarland got into trucking because he loves trucks.

“I especially like custom trucks,” he said. “I’ve always done my trucks that way, but now I drive a company truck so I’m not going to customize it.”

What’s the most outrageous thing he’s ever done to a truck?

“I put a $5,000 stereo system in one,” McFarland said. “You gotta have your tunes. I also put hardwood floors in.”

He said Raven trailers were the best flatbeds in the market and he wishes they were still in business.

McFarland said “they ought to send her packing,” referring to Anne Ferro, administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “She’s forgetting that the nonsense they’re doing up there’s not about safety. They are using the name of safety to control the American labor movement. If truckers joined together we’re a serious voice.”

The Trucker was not following McFarland’s theory regarding safety and labor so we asked him to explain further.

“They are doing [new Hours of Service rules, CSA 2010] because they don’t want a bunch of carpenters flocking to the trucking industry,” he said. “They don’t want one type of laborer making more than another.”

While we were talking to McFarland, one of his friends walked up and we asked him to repeat his theory to his friend to see what he thought. He listened, looked at us, and said to McFarland. “I’ll see you out [at the truck].” They were parked a few spaces from one another at the back of the lot at Petro. Our interpretation of the look on the friend’s face when he heard the theory was that he thought it was a bit far fetched. [And to note, so did we.]

McFarland wouldn’t say that he’s never lied on his logbook, but he did say he runs legal right now.

“I need 34 hours to reset my clock,” he said. “I log just like I run it. I don’t need to lie. I use a loose leaf logbook. If my company got electronic on-board recorders I’d stay with them. I like where I’m running.”

While McFarland may not have been the picture of health all of his life, he is more attuned to his body now and said he “used to drink a 44-ounce soda pop for breakfast” every day.

“I’m diabetic and have to watch my diet,” he explained. “It’s amazing how much energy you have when you take yourself off of carbohydrates. I take a pill for the diabetes. I eat a lot of greens, carrots, deli meat. I try my best to cut the bread out. When you cut the carbs the food you’re eating has a lot of fat.” Still, “cut carbs and the weight falls off.”

McFarland recently had his Department of Transportation physical and he doesn’t have to go back for two years because since he was first diagnosed as diabetic he’s kept his sugar levels where they should be.

He said he wants to watch his weight and what he eats because he really wants to stay in trucking.

“Driving is pretty much a full-time vacation,” he said. “You are free to do whatever you want. It’s not all fun and games. You can’t control what others are going to do. I like driving. I like it better than any job I’ve ever had — most days.”

McFarland once competed in the Minnesota State Truck Rodeo, where he came in second, and the guy who beat him ended up winning the national championship.

At that time he drove for Anderson Truck Service (ATS).

“They are the best specialized freight company to work for,” he said. “I enjoyed working for them. I really did. I sold my truck and the reason I didn’t go back to Anderson is because I wanted my own trailer [and they want drivers to use theirs]. It was a lot of good times. I made a lot of good friends up there.”

McFarland said that the reason FMCSA is mandating EOBRs on trucks is so “they can’t put their finger on us [without them] and control us — that’s the only reason. They want to stop truck wrecks, right? Ideally it would be nice if there was never a truck wreck, but wrecks are often caused by conditions. I’d fire myself if I ever turned over a truck. I try to do things right and not cause anybody else any grief. I don’t want to be the one who kills somebody.

“I wouldn’t want to be the one that my cell phone and my logbook don’t match up and there was a wreck or something occurred and it cost my company a million dollars.”

Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staf

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