Wheel Master Les Bohlken Retires After 37 Years Driving for TMC

on Thursday, January 4, 2024 in Awards & Recognition

Photo of Les BohlkenAfter 37 years with TMC and as one of very few drivers to achieve more than four million safe miles, specialized driver Les Bohlken retired at the end of 2023. Les was named as TMC’s Wheel Master—recognizing one outstanding driver in TMC’s fleet each year—in 1987, and he wore his Wheel Master jacket proudly as he celebrated his retirement.

Les started with TMC in 1986, and he says he has seen many changes at the company during his tenure. “In the old days, the office wasn’t half the size it was now, and the motel was a cornfield,” he says of the Des Moines headquarters and what is now the Baymont Inn and Suites. Les also remembers Harrold Annett, TMC’s late founder, who led the company until his death in 2021. “He was a very smart businessman. If you listened to him, you’d learn a lot,” Les noted.

Les has also seen plenty of changes in the lives of drivers. Though many of his fellow drivers now rely on GPS and automated navigation, Les says he is “old school.” “I still have road atlases and city maps,” he laughs. “Technology has changed so much, made it so much easier. We were on our own, back in the day.” But one thing that hasn’t changed is TMC’s commitment to keeping its trucks looking—and driving—great, Les said. “Maintenance is everything here at TMC. You tell them what’s wrong, and whatever it is, they’ll fix it. That really meant a lot to me.”

Photo of Les Bohlken and his family qith TMC's private jetTMC celebrated Les’s retirement with a reception in the Des Moines headquarters, to give company leaders a chance to say thank you to one of TMC’s most experienced drivers. Les traveled to Des Moines on TMC’s private jet from his home in Nebraska with one of his three daughters, his son-in-law, and several of his grandchildren to celebrate his long and impressive career.

Fleet manager Chad Reece, who has worked with Les for over 20 years, says that Les has been an exceptional driver. “Les is from a generation that is the pinnacle of hard work, dependability and doing the job with high ethical standards,” he says. “Les was always calm and professional no matter what good or bad challenges were thrown his way. Les transported big machinery across this country with great care, pride, and a smile on his face. He will be greatly missed, and I hope his knowledge, wisdom, and great attitude have worn off on many other drivers over the years.”

As one of only a handful of TMC drivers to achieve four million safe miles, Les has shown throughout his career that he knows what it takes to be successful as a truck driver. His advice to the next generation of drivers is to slow down and take the time to be safe. “Don’t take shortcuts. New drivers get in a hurry—that’s what gets you in trouble. Take your time, and do it right the first time.”

As he looks back on his career, Les is proud to have worked for a company known for its integrity, its top-of-the-line equipment, and its great employees. “It has been one hell of a ride,” he says.

Congratulations, Les, on your retirement! Thank you for your years of hard work and all your safe miles. We wish you the best.