Monday, May 21, 2018

Trucker David Brace got taste of trucking in the Army, now he loves driving OTR

Friday, March 16, 2018
by LYNDON FINNEY/The Trucker Staff

Hurricane Express driver David Brace with his truck. Brace is pointing to the emblem of the baseball team on which his son plays in California. (Courtesy: DAVID BRACE)
Hurricane Express driver David Brace with his truck. Brace is pointing to the emblem of the baseball team on which his son plays in California. (Courtesy: DAVID BRACE)

“The Army offers training in more than 150 different career paths,” says the official U.S. Army recruiting website, “and as an active duty soldier you will have access to all of them. Choose from jobs in art, science, intelligence, combat, aviation, engineering, law and more. There is no limit to what you can achieve.”

Trucker David Brace decided to join the Army right out of high school, and although it’s not necessarily one of those 150 career paths, his time spent in service to his country led him to decide what he wanted to do the rest of his working years — become a professional truck driver.

‘I actually drove a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck more commonly known as a HEMETT, which is not your typical tractor-trailer combination.” said Brace, now a lease-purchase driver for Hurricane Express, a trucking company located in Colcord, Oklahoma, near the Oklahoma-Arkansas line.

“They said you are going to be driving this truck and I said OK. They taught us how to back up and do our preventative checks. Once I finally got to a big rig, I knew how to do that kind of stuff … and [wanted to] find a class or a school where I could borrow their truck to get my license when I was a civilian again.”

After a few years as a company driver, Brace decided he wanted a change.

“I wanted to give a lease-purchase program a try,” he said. “So I started shopping around on the internet. I filled out a couple of applications to see which carrier might be the best fit.

“Stephanie Freeman was my recruiter at Hurricane. She gave me a call and we chit-chatted and I liked what I heard, so I completed the application over there and once I did that, they did the basic background check. They liked what they saw and gave me a call, and that’s how we hooked up.

“I wanted to drive for myself. I realize I’m under their authority; they book my loads, but at the end of it, the truck will be mine. I wanted something that I could get into with my own vehicle. I liked the way their trucks look, they all drive Peterbilts. I was tired of driving the old piece-of-junk trucks that you had to trade with other drivers every day. I wanted something that could be mine and I could take care of and get the colors I wanted.”

That was in June 2017, and Brace is pleased with his decision, although later in the year, a family issue almost ended his career at Hurricane Express.

What happened next only solidified his appreciation for Hurricane.

“I was thinking about leaving so I could find something that would be closer to home. Stephanie and Kaeden (Steinert, company president)  took me aside and we hashed out what the issues were,” Brace said. “They wanted me to stay, so I did. They get me home often enough that my kids can see me, even if it’s for a short period of time.

“When I’m in California they try to set it up so that I can drive through and see the family. It’s something I appreciate and I hadn’t had a company that was willing to do that before.”

Brace says Hurricane Express is a driver-centric company.

“I’ve heard of them working with other drivers like they did me,” he said. “When it comes time to get a new truck, they ask you what colors you want. Whenever we roll through our facility in Oklahoma, they get us into the shop if we need to get into the shop. They don’t leave us sitting around for a long period of time waiting on loads or vendors.

“I’ve had them switch my load when I was sitting at a vendor just because another load picked up quicker. When we’re at headquarters, the dispatchers will come out and talk to you, they don’t just hide back in their room. If you need to speak to someone in person, there’s always somebody you can talk to.”

Hurricane Express is a refrigerated carrier that hauls primarily food products.

“We haul produce heading east and chickens heading west,” Brace said. “Right now, the big season for produce is in Arizona. In the summer it’s usually central California, northern California, Sacramento, Modesto.  A lot of the chicken comes out of Arkansas or Oklahoma, but I have picked up some in North Carolina.”

On one particular day, Brace was in Yuma, Arizona, loading produce that was to be transported to New Jersey, a 4 ½-day trip.

But that long haul doesn’t bother him.

“I enjoy the drive,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me driving for long distances. I tell my friends I can go eight hours without stopping to use the restroom and they say, ‘I don’t know how you do that.’ I just enjoy being out on the road. It can get monotonous sometimes because we drive the same lanes, but I can’t think of anything else I would like to be doing.”        

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