DES MOINES, Iowa — TMC Transportation’s driver of the month for December 2020, Brad Coppin, got his start in the transportation industry hauling poultry. When the poultry industry started to take a hit, however, he decided it was time for a change.
While scoping out trucks and observing drivers at truck stops, Coppin said, he got an idea of the different freight trailer types available and the lifestyle those drivers live. From then on, he knew he wanted to be a flatbed driver. He narrowed his research to flatbed transportation companies online and visited truck-driver forums to narrow his options down the best company.
“TMC had one of the best reputations out there. Any complaints were minor,” he noted. “I called them to discuss more and found out they had one of the best pay programs out there.”
Coppin joined TMC’s linehaul division, and soon expressed interest in becoming a trainer.
“I started training because I got to meet more people and experience different cultures,” he explained. “Now, my favorite part of being a trainer is having conversations with people. I love it when people ask questions about what I am doing. It breaks up the monotony of a regular solo day.”
Coppin has now been with TMC for 12 years and worked as a driver-trainer for a total of five years, taking some time off to simply drive for the company. In those five years as a driver-trainer, Coppin said, he’s learned a lot.
“I’ve learned it is not about how you get the job done, but the end result that matters. We do not all do it the same way,” he said. “I have to remind myself sometimes, you can have a different way of doing something and still do it right.”
Allowing drivers to — safely — make their own way isn’t the only thing that helps Coppin be a great trainer. He’s also learned the most important piece of the trainer-trainee puzzle is patience. “You have to help (new drivers) learn and be patient with them,” he said.
Coppin’s philosophy on being a trainer is unique, according to the folks at TMC.
“The training does not end when you leave my truck. My job from that point on is to help you be successful. I tell each trainee, ‘If you have any questions, call me.’ Most of my trainees do. I do my best to keep in touch with each person I train,” he said.
“I owe a lot to my trainer, TMC driver, Kent Hall,” Coppin continued. “He has been an inspiration to me and taught me everything I know. We have since become friends and talk daily. I get tips and advice from him as well. … TMC takes care of their people.”
Jeff Geist, TMC’s training coordinator manager, said he appreciates Coppin’s work as a driver-trainer
“Brad brings a lot of TMC experience to training drivers,” Geist noted. “Brad trains people the right way to be safe and successful and is available for support beyond the time they get into their own truck.”
Each month, TMC selects a driver-trainer who demonstrates the outstanding qualities the company looks for in a trainer. The trainer of the month recipient 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.