As the new Jetco sales and marketing coordinator, I wanted to learn more about a typical day in the life of a professional Jetco driver, so I hit the road with our flatbed driver Juan, who is originally from Nicaragua. He promptly met me at 7:00 a.m. with snacks and a lot of water to stay hydrated on the road. Juan has been a truck driver for the past ten years, and, so far, has owned three of his own trucks. This is Juan’s fourth year as an owner operator at Jetco, driving flatbed and van.
As we started in our day, Juan began showing me the steps required to properly inspect his truck and flatbed trailer. He conducts pre- and post-trip inspections prior to every trip. Juan opened the hood to make sure the engine had no issues. He put white gloves on, and checked the breaks and oil. Then he checked the tires to see if they had enough air. “I don’t leave the yard until I make sure my truck is safe to go,” he said.
After the inspection, Juan showed me the proper way to get inside the truck. “It’s easy to get hurt if you don’t know how to get in and out of the truck,” said Juan. The inside of the truck was incredibly clean. Juan admitted that he cleans his truck’s cabin every day because it makes him feel good when it is neat and organized. He turned on the tablet and read his dispatch instructions. I saw the safety checklist and how Juan marked all the boxes that ensured the safety of the truck. He read the dispatch instructions out loud and confirmed that he was ready for the trip, then he checked his mirrors, put his glasses on, said a little prayer and began driving.
On the road, Juan explained to me that the speed limit for trucks should be lower than for other vehicles because it takes longer for the trucks to stop. In order to be safe, trucks should never be in a rush, no matter what the traffic ahead of you looks like. Previous companies that Juan worked for did not have the strict safety rules like Jetco’s. He confessed that at first, he did not like all the company’s rules. But a few weeks after joining the Jetco team, he understood the importance of safety and why the rules are in place. “I want to go home each night and see my grandson,” he said. Safety has become his number one core value. He likes having a camera inside his truck and the ELD software that reminds him, among other things, when a break is required. “We didn’t have this kind of safety culture at previous companies that I worked. That’s why I like Jetco and its safety culture,” Juan said. Juan had worked for eight companies before he began working for Jetco. He appreciates that Jetco provides hard hats, gloves and safety vests to the drivers. “Not everything is about money here. This company cares about drivers,” Juan said.
We arrived at our first stop at 8:30 a.m. to pick up the load. After checking in with the security guard, Juan pulled out the necessary forms that indicated the delivery information. Juan assisted the staff with the loading and inspected the truck again before we left the shipper’s location. He reviewed papers with information about weight and size of the load, confirmed the information with the Jetco’s dispatch team, and we headed toward George Bush Intercontinental Airport to deliver the cargo. At Jetco, drivers always communicate with their dispatchers when they are ready to leave their current location to ensure that the team is on the same page.
On the way to deliver the load, Juan shared with me his passion for sports. He enjoys watching football, soccer and basketball. In his free time, he enjoys running, working out and playing sports with his children and friends from the church. Juan has three brothers and one sister. Most of his friends are drivers at Jetco and other companies. Juan usually drives within Texas, but sometimes he delivers loads to other states. “It’s a nice place to work with fair and competitive pay and where I am treated with respect. I have gained skills here that help me be a better driver.”
On the way to the receiver’s location, we saw a three-car accident. “It’s terrible to see this happen on the roads,” Juan said. He told me that he had seen more car accidents happen in the morning than during the day because people tend to be in a rush on the way to work. “Taking our time on the road is critical.”
We arrived at the receiver’s location at 11:00 a.m. Juan and I got out of the truck and headed to the office to check in with our customer and give them the proper paperwork regarding the specifications of the load. After getting the approval to deliver the load, we headed to the designated terminal to unload. We sat for a bit and had lunch in the truck, then and headed back to the Jetco yard. Juan was preparing for his afternoon “pick up and deliver” routine while checking the entire truck again: “Jetco has taught me to use caution. For that reason, I inspect my truck prior to every trip.”