For Shaun Mason, the dream of becoming a professional truck driver began at an early age.
“One of my earliest childhood memories growing up was receiving a toy semi-truck from my grandmother,” Mason recalled. “I remember it being one of my favorite toys growing up. When I was a kid, I wondered what it would be like to drive a semi and travel the country. Whenever I saw a truck pass by, I’d signal to the driver to pull his horn. I thought being a driver would be a cool job.”
While the toy semi-truck may have been lost in time, Mason’s interest in heavy-duty trucks never waned. After serving 25 years in the U.S. Marines and Army, Mason is now living out his childhood interest and is behind the wheel of a Class 8 truck.
Mason is an independent contractor for Prime Inc., and one of four finalists recently named for the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence program. The award program is dedicated to finding America’s top rookie military veteran driver and recognizes top drivers who have made the successful transition from active military duty to driving for a commercial fleet.
For the fifth consecutive year, Kenworth has teamed with the FASTPORT Trucking Track Mentoring Program and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, and will provide a Kenworth T680 as the program’s award to this year’s winner. The T680 features the complete PACCAR Powertrain with a PACCAR MX-13 engine, a PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission and PACCAR 40K tandem axles. In addition, the T680 includes a 76-inch sleeper equipped with the Kenworth Driver’s Studio package of options.
According to Mason, he wasted no time in his transition from retiring from the Army in April to signing on with Prime. So far, he says he is finding his new career path in the transportation industry to be a good fit.
“As a driver, I’m seeing new places every day and I get the opportunity to travel all over the country,” Mason said. “Driving is a peaceful experience for me. When I was in the military, I served 10 combat tours, so I’ve seen and endured a lot. When I’m on the road, I’m able to relax and reflect on my time in the military. I’m also able to plan out my goals in this industry and beyond, and how I can achieve them.”
On the road, Mason is seeing many of the skills he gained while serving in the military transition to his new career as a professional driver.
“The military taught me a lot of life skills that are applicable for civilian life and in my career as a driver,” he said. “One of those skills is how to work as a team and be a true team player. That’s a skill that comes into play all the time as a driver. Whenever I see a driver that needs help securing a load, backing into a parking spot, or whatever it is a driver may need, I’m always willing to lend a hand.”
Working in Prime’s flatbed division, Mason’s goal in the transportation industry is to one day own and operate his own heavy-haul company.
“Just to be nominated for this program is such a humbling experience,” said Mason. “I’m so proud to be named a finalist and have the opportunity to become an owner-operator. Even if I don’t win, I know the Kenworth T680 will go to a very deserving fellow veteran. There is a lot of opportunity for me in the industry, and I look forward to the road ahead.”
The Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award winner will be announced in December. For more information on the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award program, click here.