Our Meet the Team Series is meant to showcase some of the exceptional talent we have here at ENERGY and to help you get to know us on a more personal level.
Antonio Hernandez is one of ENERGY’s longest-serving employees. He’s been working as a truck driver since 2006, and he recently celebrated his 10th work anniversary at the company.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Antonio to discuss his driving career and his unique perspective on the transportation industry.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you started your career in transport?
I came to Canada in January 1987, and I was working as a dishwasher. Then I became a cook and spent 16 years working in restaurants. I was working long, 11-hour days to take home a decent paycheck.
Then, in a chance encounter, I reconnected with an old friend Walter on the soccer field. Walter asked what I was doing for a living, and I told him I was working long hours as a cook in a restaurant.
Walter told me he was a truck driver, and he sold me on the lifestyle. He offered to help me get my truck driving license, and he even let me ride along with him on a couple of trips.
I could tell truck drivers had a lot of freedom and autonomy, and I wanted that for myself.
What’s your favorite thing about driving a truck?
The freedom. I’m not talking about freedom from my wife and family; I’m talking about freedom in my professional career.
No boss is looking over your shoulder — no people to deal with. And it’s not that I don’t like people, but I’m my own boss on the road.
I also really enjoy seeing new places and the salary the job provides.
What’s your least favorite thing about driving a truck?
100% traffic. I hate traffic.
As a driver, I spend a lot of time waiting in traffic when I could be resting or taking personal time. I try to avoid rush hour the best I can. I like working at ENERGY because they have a lot of contractual clients. Dispatch at ENERGY knows well in advance what loads they will get, when they will get them, and where they are going.
ENERGY’s contractual business allows me to plan my trips better and hopefully avoid traffic so I can spend more time at home.
I like being a truck driver, but I don’t like spending more time away from my family than I need to.
In your opinion, how can the industry better recruit younger drivers to the profession?
I think the younger generation isn’t into truck driving. They don’t want to leave their lives. To attract younger drivers, the industry and the government need to collaborate. They need to find incentives and other ways to encourage younger drivers to take up the profession.
Offering paid training is one possibility. But when you’re a younger driver or one with less experience, companies often want to take something off your pay.
The industry needs to offer higher pay to younger or less experienced drivers to make it a more attractive opportunity.
Do you have any safety tips for other truck drivers?
Be vigilant, patient, and courteous.
Many people don’t realize that our safety record keeps us driving trucks. A truck driving career can be a long one, and it’s what brings good things to you and your family. We do all we can to protect that.
What is your favorite lane you like to drive?
If you want to enjoy the ride, California.
I don’t do it anymore, but I used to. I love the view. The deserts and the mountains are beautiful. Now I mostly do Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.
Do you have any crazy on the road stories you can share?
I’ve seen many things on the road, and I’ve been through a lot to get to where I am now in my career. I remember one time I had to stop in the middle of the highway because the cars in front of me saw a mother duck and her little ducklings crossing the road.
Another time I was driving on highway 87, 20 minutes south of Albany, NY, and a drunk driver came at me in reverse. I had 44,000 lbs of paper rolls in the trailer, and I was a new driver in my second or third year. Thank God I have nerves of steel and could avoid the accident.
You’ve been working for ENERGY for 10 years+; I’d love to hear why you think someone should drive for ENERGY?
You don’t have to be working here for years and years to make the same salary that I do. We also have dedicated lanes so you can pick what you’re good at.
I’d tell anyone who wants to drive for ENERGY that the work is very steady, and my salary has been going up and up for the past five years.