A career in truck driving has many great benefits — the freedom and exploration of life on the road, good pay and job security, but it also has its downfalls such as stressful highway driving with disrespectful motorists, which is why Tyler-based TMS Delivery Inc. is celebrating their drivers during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week, Sept. 8-14.

Tarisa Klaus, 50, general manager at TMS Delivery Inc., has worked with the truckload carrier company for 15 years. It was founded by Darrell Nunn in 1983.

TMS Delivery Inc. is a small company that specializes in expedited services, meaning they deal regularly with rush orders, items that must be delivered by a particular time and items that require special handling and care.

“Their job is stressful and no one really appreciates how stressful it is to be a truck driver,” Klaus said. “Put yourself in that truck, eight feet off the ground, driving down the road with people who got their driver’s license online. They’re trying to motorboat around you. You’re 80,000 pounds, they’re three thousand pounds. You can’t shut down that truck on a dime. You have to bring it to a stop. Then motorists cut them off, flip them off, disrespect them, make their lives on the highway.”

In the past five years, companies have seen a shortage in truck drivers. Ms. Klaus said that good drivers will always be in demand, but they can be hard to find. She said many applicants don’t have the right modality in their work ethic. They don’t want to be team players.

In East Texas, the demand for truck drivers fluctuates with the demand for oil field workers. When the oil fields are full of workers, drivers are sparse.

Dale Speer, 42, of Coffee City, is considered a team leader at TMS and a model employee for all new hires. Speer drives a 2007 Peterbilt 379 extended hood 4 axle, a heavy-haul truck. He often carries specialized or oversized loads that require special attention on the road.

“Quality of service especially in oversized and specialized is super critical because in that realm of trucking it’s high liability, expensive loads both for the shipper and the receiver,” Klaus said. “It takes a cool head and an experienced mind to handle that kind of freight.”

Speer has 21 years of experience as a truck driver and has been employed with TMS for eight years.

“He’s conscientious he cares about the other drivers and he cares about the motoring public,” Klaus said. “I have him train every driver that comes through the door. He’s the best at cargo securement. He’s told me, ‘I tie that load down as if my little girl is riding next to it; nothing moves.’”

Klaus said that Speer sets the tone for the rest of the team and that tone translates to performance on the road.

Klaus believes that taking care of each other is a vital aspect to a successful company.

“People have value,” she said. “The turnover rate in so many corporations is growing and growing because they don’t value their people. Some managers look at their people like they are hamburger meat — you grind them then go. How do you grow that way? How do you build something that way?”

If you want to be the best at your industry you have to set that tone by hiring quality drivers like Speer.

“These guys go through a lot every day so you can have the things you see in your world. If you bought it, a truck driver brought it,” she said.

On Saturday the drivers will be recognized with a special celebration at the company. Ms. Klaus herself will sit in a dunking booth waiting to be dunked by her team. The day will also include a barbecue, competitions and fun games in an effort to show appreciation for the company’s drivers.

TWITTER: @TMT_Sarah

Twitter: @TMT_Sarah

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