Bud Byers

Interview by
Published on
June 23, 2022

In this episode...

84-year-old Bud Byers drove for more than 40 years, eclipsed 5 million miles, and had zero reportable accidents! His love of a trucking life and the ability it gave him to provide for his family drives the many stories he tells of life on the road. He retells the incredible experiences driving coast to coast and with a wry smile shares his love of the amazing adventures of being part of a tribe of road warriors. He refers to America’s professional drivers as the “last American cowboys” and after listening to this open-hearted conversation you’ll understand why.

Bud Byers

Bud Byers is an active 83 year old from NC with a heart pouring out incredible stories from forty years working for Yellow Freight Company.


i worked and retired from yellow freight systems after 40 years 40 on the road 40 years and when i retired they said i had driven 5 million miles 5 million miles 5 million miles without a chargeable accident welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of america's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by trucks indicted to tell stories propelling drivers

this is life of the mile delivered by freightworks i'm your host butch maltby it's an incredible opportunity every time we're together with a guest to learn more about the unbelievable stories of america's truckers and the whole trucking and logistics enterprise in the united states which is so critical and today i have the opportunity of not just having a guest i have the opportunity to be with one of my dear best friends bud buyers and you know what bud i i we had you on once before people love the opportunity to hear from you we're going to hear from you again today and it's just a joy to have you thank you you're you're welcome now i'm going to start out by saying this you're the real deal you are the real deal bud the first you're the real deal and the first time i met you and i heard you talk to your dear friend and mine jim bishop i remember saying to myself three things number one he's authentic he's genuine and he's got integrity i could feel it number two he's somebody that knows what he's talking about and number three i want to get to know him because he's got things he can teach me and i've had the chance to do that now you were a driver for a lot of years tell people how long you drove and who you drove for well i was over the road driver i worked out of charlotte and i worked and retired from yellow freight systems after 40 years 40 on the road 40 years and when i retired they said i had driven 5 million miles 5 million miles 5 million miles without a chargeable accident without a ch i had a bad accident i told you earlier yeah we're going to talk about that in a few minutes but but without a chargeball i remember you know i was you know i got a family three children that it was very smart in school and they needed on youtube going to be wanting to go to college and not so that was my way of getting him a college education because i probably made with just being a high school graduate

butch i probably made four times the salary that i could have made working in a factory of course i was i would probably advance up the latter yeah cause you work hard work but four times and the retirement and you know but pay by making that kind of money when you do retire you get you draw the maximum amount of retirement social security right do you mind telling people what decade you're in how old are you i'm i'm 84. if i make it i'll be 85 september 15. you know what you're we're going to believe in faith you're going to make it because you have a lot more miles that are left on you bud but but but but folks you got to hear this 40 years 5 million miles more than 5 million miles and no chargeable accident that's almost unheard of if people could could get 100 of you in a company they'd want it tomorrow and if you could still drive oh yeah they'd want you behind the wheel but that's very true that's very true and when i retired i retired because of my daughter adopted my only grandchild from china and i promised her that i'd

i i was going to be with a company i was 40 years in january and she went to china and got my granddaughter and came home with her the 15th 14th effect she came on valentine's day 14 months old and

i just i didn't spend a lot of time with my children because i needed money for them school yeah and i promised her so she had my daughter was a teaching school and she needed six more years of teaching to get her 30-year retirement so she said i'm gonna bring her down to your house every day while i'm teaching and i want you to tell her everything you know and i did oh i did look you became very close to her yes i did and she just finished north carolina state university top of her class got a four-year degree in three years she's going to be entering medical school she's going to medical school and you know

life could've never been any better but to me than it was driving a truck isn't that a good sound you know what talk about that because bud here's the difference between you with permission you and some drivers i mean some drivers they get done they retire and they go i just i'm glad i'm done with that the key thing with you is that you still love and appreciate and respect the industry oh yeah and what's different about you why is that true but i don't know how to explain it when i retired my friend dr bobby england back we went back in high school days he was on the college icc college board and he knew i was retiring so he immediately contacted me so i got a job for you we need road driver instructor at the truck driver training schools of college said it's a it's a good organization it's one of the money-making things that the college has got so i said okay i'll come over and talk with you well i went over and talked with them and i almost accepted a job as a trainer yeah as an over-the-road instructor and david took me out and showed me the route that i'd be running get on the bypass run to the bottom of saluda mountain and down the mountain you'd get some downhill driving come down to mary and come down sing a lane road in the far city he'd get it on and i told my daughter i said i'm gonna i'm thinking about taking this job at the college being an always road instructor and she said daddy you promised me that you'd and so i i had i had to call them and tell them i couldn't take it right i wanted it i really wanted to help someone but you had other things that were a higher priority than what you wanted that is true butch but i really wanted i just felt like i could do so much by helping you know you know you learn a lot in 40 years on the road you see it all right so i was very happy and i'm glad i did now because i'm glad i didn't but i want to ask you this because you have so many we've sat and talked before you've got so many stories and we've got a limited amount of time so i'm going to ask you to talk about one particular story and it's one where god really spared your life yes talk about that accident that you had and and just what took place there because a lot of people don't realize the three and a half million professional drivers in america their safety is number one they're always looking out for other people looking out for themselves talk about the day god looked out for you and what happened well but i was just passed out of charlotte to the to the terminal we have a the local pickup in the liberty terminal in roanoke virginia and when i got there they said you're going to the motel take your rest period and then we'll call you when your time's up so they called me i guess it's at 11 o'clock at night they called me and said be here in two hours you're going to pull two amps out for a double trader you're gonna pull two empty traders to the greensboro terminal and then you're gonna get two loaded traders and go to the charlotte where my home domicile so i left went over and got up and took my shower and got my coffee and whatever went over got in the truck and i started and to get from from roanoke down to greensboro you run uh highway 220 brings you out winston-salem you get on 40 right into greensburg and the the uh blue ridge parkway comes right through roanoke virginia right and as i rounded the curve on 220 there was a guy out of hammond's indiana had a load of steel big steel yeah big big steel for construction uh maybe bridge is you know is on a 45 foot trailer and he was he had exited off on the blue ridge parkway which that's a no-no for commercial vehicles and i guess the guy panicked and he just backed up real fast now i was i couldn't avoid him i hit him in the side turned him over it was a harvest noise i've ever heard in my life and it tore the whole complete front end off of the truck and the shoulder harness came down the mailboard and pushed my elbow into my rib cage and it broke three of my ribs it uh i wasn't i knew it was hurt but i was scared the fire because the air conditioner on the truck it exploded and it and it looked like it was fire it looked like it was smoke but i was so lucky i know the lord was with me because there was a nurse right behind me he was just getting off the duty at the roanoke hospital and she immediately came to my age and heard some guy and i remember her asking him if you got a pocket knife i thought well sure they ain't going to cut me it's going to cut the seat belt the seat belt off right off it blowed the windshield out and i knew it was hurt and they got me out and got my nemesis got me to the hospital and and they x-rayed me and said you've got three broken ribs you got one real bit it's not everything right into your heart it you got a bruised heart we got to get that brill back out of there so what i i went through surgery i stayed up there for i don't know how many days my family all came up and uh then okay i finally got to come home and tell us how you got home bud this is son-in-law owns a funeral home in far city and he and my daughter came up there and you know what tell us in a hearse you went home in a hearse and uh in a hospital bed and got me home and of course my company was very good to me of course you know the accident wasn't my fault and i went every day to physical therapy they paid me paid me mileage and everything and then of course at the end when they settled up with the company that caused the accident they also compensated me for them on we won't get into that but they i was compensated and i just couldn't get i could i absolutely butch i couldn't wait to get back to work right i just i you know i just felt like i need to be out there guys call me every day all we're doing this we do we got some new trucks last week i i just missed the guys so much and uh that was the only problem ever had was you know you know what bud you saw american history yes and you lived through american history and i'm gonna ask you about something that's really important i want you to tell me the story about some of the things that were happening in the whole racial arena and and what was going on what was going on in the country around 1962 304 your friend that was from new york yes i want you to unpack that story because we've got a picture here of he and i together well you're going to show that picture folks what's really important is we need to learn from our elders we need to learn their stories so that we can understand history so you lived through the 60s and you were in the military talk about your friend talk about what was happening in the country talk about your company well this robert mccoy if i'm mortal i i'd gone to basic training with him in in texas and then he went to he they sent me after basic training they sent me to denver colorado to go to school they sent him to parks air force base in california to go to our police school he was a he's a military policeman and i never saw him until we got out of service when we got out on he was he was 12 days older than me and his september 3rd and i was september 15th and he said what are we going what are you going to do and i said i'm going to north carolina truck driver training school i'm going to be a truck driver that's where the money is at charlotte is a place and you live close to there there's jobs in charlotte he said he was gonna go too so i went to school and i immediately got a job but he didn't he got a job with the company say i hate to even talk about well but it's important because it's our history it's our history that was one of the first times i've ever been ashamed of america i was ashamed of it because he was african-american and they wouldn't hire as a road driver but they gave him a job working in the shop changing tires washing trucks fueling trucks and 1964 i don't really like to talk about this it's so sad but you know what it's important 1964 the civil rights bill was passed and there was a number of guys like him that had wanted to be over the road truck drivers they wouldn't it wasn't just all the companies was that way so they filed a lawsuit and judge macmillan federal judge in charlotte and everybody knew judge mcmillan he made a ruling on it and i have got a copy of the ruling somewhere in my memorabilia stuff at home what he wrote he said that the company was to put these guys on the road immediately compensate them for the salaries they had lost between what they had made on the road and what they would have made what they made working in the shop which it was probably double part in the shop what they could make anywhere else and then the company would no longer be they had a right to pre they had a right to appeal this to the fourth circuit courts of appeals in richmond virginia but they was to completely quit hauling any kind of government any military stuff anything but they would they violated several people said well right you cannot you can't do that you can't so they came on the road and we worked and we retired and he passed away last year oh and he was so much like me his he married a lady from marshall named faye they had two daughters they both graduated from john c smith university in charlotte yeah i had two daughters they graduated from gardner-webb university i had a son graduated from mount fletcher state plus a couple other colleges and he had a son that graduated from john c smith university and he ended up being a teacher and a coach from northfield high okay and he's retired now okay and that's how close we were they we were there and i got pictures you have a wonderful picture of him when you retired and bud so pull i have a picture hold that over here pull that picture out that's you you should that's he and i are 12 days difference in our age and he was and that's the chief financial officer of yellow freight system we were pictured with isn't that something but now look at you you're you're young there young girl 62 years old 62 years old and that's your friend that's my friend and he's in the military he's 62. he was in the military as well and this is the president of the yellow parade system became barbara thompson the president that was a retirement pitcher and of course yellow freight is a well-known welding company now i want you guys to look at the belt buckles yeah you know what bud you always have some surprise now tell me about the belt buckle look at the belt buckley here and i was god the company would just lay stuff out and say help yourself guys and so that's a yellow that's a yellow great jacket no i i'm not trying to take the show over here but i just you are you watch the show this is just a little something that i just i got so much stuff i can show you look at that okay

isn't that something you know truck drivers like big buckles oh yeah but look look the belt buckle on look at the picture again look at the belt buckle look at the belt buckle in the picture there in the in the look and and you see this is the belt buckle here and i both got on you see that isn't that something look at that that is that's the same yeah and so and so let me see that's the same belt buckle we got on and i got many of them that is some kind of buckle that's going to get noticed that is some kind of buckle you know what i i love that and you said you had so many jackets from safety awards you had like a closet full right but my friend my friend robert when they wouldn't let him go on the road he'd he'd serve his country i was ashamed of this country took me a long time to get over it but after he got put on the road and got compensated et cetera et cetera then then i got it it turned and turned things around but that's that's just some of my some of the things that i've done in my life well i want to i want to ask you this because this is really important but what is it i mean you went these you went all these mill you went 40 years 5 million miles no reportable accident what is it bud that makes a good driver because you've got people that sit behind the wheel to think they're driving what you're qualified to answer this what makes a good driver you know butch that is such a very important question the main thing is you have to have a good relationship at home you cannot go to work mad at your wife you can't do that you run over somebody you've got to be when you get home you got to spend some quality time with your family and you have got to get your proper rest you can't go out don't have a proper breath and you got to have a good attitude about your job if you hate your job you don't need to be on did you know some drivers that hated their jobs yes i do i'm i'm afraid i did and i know they got in trouble yes i did i i knew plenty guys it was that way and but i never did the job was so good to me that when those college bills came in from gardner-webb and from appalachian state i had the money i wrote the check and you know and i knew what that was very fulfilling wasn't it yes it was you take a lot of of appropriate pride and interest and taking care of your family don't you absolutely absolutely live in this thing live in the same house i've lived in ever since i built it not long after i got married i've had the same telephone number for over 60 years the same address i mean i i don't i don't go nowhere not to the lord calls me then i'll then i'm going to come back you don't know it's true it's true it's true for all of us our days are our days are in his hands i would encourage i just butch i just simply could not work on a nine to five going to a factory every day listening to the complaints about we're not making enough money i couldn't do that the freedom you have on the road is on you meet so many people and you saw america didn't you i saw america and i met so many outstanding people and even had meals with them like hank williams jr the great country music star ray price mickey gilly mickey gilly uh b.j thomas i made a you know i'm gotta i i just get on the radio and talk with him you know and i guess it's all why might be pretty nice so gotta stop and have a meal with what was your cb handle what was my gambler i don't know why somebody just told one day you ordered you gambled you're such a i was such a gambler on life i just thought everything i don't know exactly yeah but that's what it was and i did you talk on your cv a lot you did a lot and i met so many people met so many so many people i met you would not believe how many and people i wouldn't but the most memorable person i ever met was hank williams jr i he was so down to earth and as i told you early when we ate he put a hundred dollar bill in a little lady that waited on us just apron a hundred folded up honey and you said she was a student there at liberty university university and she's working at the truck stop right out of blinchburg to make money to make money it was on a saturday night they'd played up and uh so you probably saw in your years you saw kind of the best and worst of people i saw the best and the worst but the most memorable thing i've ever done it that i i tell my i told my children i tell my granddaughter and my granddaughter is from china she's an american citizen but we adopted her from china was going flying to portland oregon and bringing back some new trucks and i got to i'd been in the air force i got to see america from the air yes you could not see it from the ground isn't that something and i come back across by you know on interstate 80 boise idaho all the way down into cheyenne little america down into charring and hit 80 come across omaha nebraska and across the mississippi the davenport across the mississippi river go into chicago hit interstate 65 out of chicago down through indianapolis indiana to louisville kentucky interstate 64 and louisville over to over to lexton interstate 75 down to the knoxville tennessee 40 and amazing how i can remember you know what but i i felt like as you were just describing all of that i felt like i was sitting in the right seat and you were driving yeah and we were making that trip together i mean you all those things are locked in and through the windshield i can't forget them and not all that there's other things in life we've talked about that i don't forget i mean i i just the lord blessed me with the memory see i mean i can just about quote you everything was said in the lawsuit that my friend and his friends won right to get compensated for not being described i was ashamed of that i know i know but you know what but you know what the the courts did write it you know here's what i know about you bud you're also and of course our our time is is running away here quickly i i want to i want to mention this you're also extremely involved in the local republican party you are a walking computer when it comes to the board of election information and one of the great privileges of my life is that you come in and you brief me on all that stuff and i'm able to use it in different ways but i want you to mention real quickly something else that you've done you took the time the effort the energy and the money to build a memorial with flags and all that talk real quickly about that what did you do well i just something i wanted to do and and i did i had silhouettes i had it out of make syllabus and put them up set out the rose bushes and i've had people from all over the country tell them what it is tell them what it is it's just to honor the veterans of this country and and i built on iwo jiman i had dirt hauled in and built a mound just like originally raising american the marines that raised the american flag on top of mount suribachi that's where they raised it up and one of them became a very very popular person he was he's a puma indian and they became when roosevelt saw when roosevelt saw the picture that the war photographer made and came back to washington he said uh i want to i want those guys home i want them home i'll put them on the bond selling to her and a couple of them had died kevin had been killed but our haze he he was an indian puma indian and he got to come home but he became an alcoholic and bert lancaster took him in and kept him the movie starred he finally left he finally left bert lancaster's home in hollywood and went back to arizona with a few more engines and they found him one morning in an irrigation ditch drowned

yeah and even wrote a hit song about him calling him drunk on our haze he won't listen anymore not the whiskey drinking indian or the marine that went to war johnny cash by the big hit song interesting that's just yeah i'm a very patriotic person yeah you're extremely patriotic you're you're somebody that's also a person of faith and you know what i remember how would i remember those lyrics you remember him because god gave you incredible memories for things and you know what before i forget as we round uh our program out here bud i know you got a closet full of jackets and you got belt buckles and all of that but it's our turn and our time to offer you something so it's either this cap this cap or this yeti mug so i i like to have this okay great i like that you like you know what this was a real hit at the mid-america trucking show it's got that genuine leather life by the mile uh cap there and you know what we're also going to commission you right here right now we're going to commission you as a freightworks ambassador to rutherford county and folks you're hearing it here first this is bud buyer you know he he is inimitable there is not another one of you that i know and so we want you to have this dessert thank you people ask me where do you get that where'd you get that hat well i'm sorry this is all in one made i'm going to tell anyone it is on the market that's all i say just go right you know what you can do as you can tell them you can tell them if you're somebody with a cdl or you want to get one stay in touch with frameworks and uh you know what this i would encourage any young man to get into it once you get in get hooked on it now you get hooked on that freedom well and you know what if you are interested in becoming part of the freight works team go to the freight works website uh call us we're right here on poorest ford road in rutherford county north carolina this is life of the mile delivered by freightworks i'm your host butch malpe twice a week we bring inspiring stories like this you know 40 years more than phil 5 million miles no reportable accident but buyer he's he is somebody that reflects the best of what trucking is all about we want you to subscribe to the youtube channel listen to our audio podcast on platforms everywhere like share subscribe become part of this growing family we call life of the mile we'll be here every week twice a week come check us out thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by a trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more episodes click here and make sure that you subscribe to this channel by clicking here we'll see you there


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