Russ Allen Retires After Over 33 Years at TMC
On Friday, December 18th, Iowan Russ Allen returned his keys for the final time. While growing up on a farm, Russ remembers watching the big trucks in the field as he raised cattle. He recalls that farming got tough in the 80’s. Going from part-time driver for a local sale barn to a full-time trucker in 1985 was a must-needed change for Russ in order to save some money.
After two years of driving over the road, Russ landed at TMC. “I had a good friend who drove for TMC. I thought that the shiny black trucks were a lot nicer than the cabovers I had been driving,” Russ explains. In May of 1987, Walt Annett and Tommy Zapatil offered him a job at TMC.
After 33 years of driving with the Black & Chrome, Russ says the most rewarding part of his job has been parking a shiny Kenworth or Peterbilt in front of his house on the weekends. Another high point that Russ mentioned is the flexibility that comes with hauling flatbed freight. “With flatbeds, you get exercise which makes staying in shape easier than shutting the doors on a box trailer. I enjoyed taking my kids with me several times. My daughter, Alicia, had never seen a mountain before,” Russ says. “Being able to share those special moments with family and exploring new sights made it all worth it.”
There have been changes in the industry – especially with technology. When starting out his career, there was no cell phone or GPS. Looking back, Russ says the biggest obstacle he had to overcome was “going into any big city, trying to find where to go unload. Over time it got easier, but it was a challenge.” Winter driving was an obstacle as well. “It takes time getting to know what the truck can or can’t do,” Russ added. Slowing down when the road gets bad was key to Russ’ safe driving record.
When asked about what advice he would give to a new driver, Russ answered: “The pay is good if you work for it. Every day has different challenges. The work can be hard, but when you get that special load that looks cool on the trailer, it makes the extra work worthwhile. If you haul for the Specialized or Boat Division, it can be rewarding. As an ex-farmer, parking a shiny new piece of machinery at my house can be impressive.”
With 33 years of experience, Russ reflects on his career. When asked if there was any advice he would give his younger self, Russ replied, “I would say be really careful when loading and unloading. I got in a hurry several times and fell off trailers or had a tarp roll off insulation and hit my head (I used to be taller). Things like that you shake off and keep going, but years later you look back and think, ‘Why did I let that happen?’” His second piece of advice: “Tie the loads down and tarp correctly the first time. Then, you do not have to stop and redo anything. The load stays on the trailer.”
Now retired, Russ plans to work on the farm and spend time with his four grandsons. His son, Jed, farms along with owning an Ag Machinery repair business. Russ and his wife, Molly, also plan to do some traveling. “I made lifelong friends here at TMC. I was always treated well by people in the shops, the Fleet Managers, all the way up to Harrold Annett. I will always be thankful for Walt Annett hiring me. He is the reason I stayed for over 33 years. In later years, it was a pleasure working with people like Glenda Miller (Fleet Manager), Chad Reece (Operations Manager), and Mike Duffy (VP of Maintenance). I cannot believe I am over 70 years old and spent nearly half my life at TMC. I want to thank everyone who I worked with here, and Todd Bunting (VP of Safety). Thankfully I stayed on the good side of Todd, most of the time.”
“After 33 years with TMC and over 3,500,000 safe driving miles, Wheel Master Russ Allen has retired. I think everybody has a short list of individuals who they know that can be counted on to do the right thing and do it to the best of their ability every time. Russ is definitely on my list and I’m sure many others. His work ethic is unbelievable as is his attention to detail. The two short years that I’ve had the opportunity to work directly with Russ have not only been enjoyable but inspiring and I thank him for that. Selfishly, I hate to see him leave; but he’s earned it and I’m excited for him,” says Mike Duffy, VP of Maintenance.
Congratulations, Russ Allen, on retiring! Thank you for everything you’ve done at TMC! You will truly be missed. Best of luck to you!