Eric Ramsdell

Interview by
Published on
November 30, 2022

In this episode...

Ask a truck driver this question and see how many different answers you get. For industry veteran and Walmart Distribution Center’s Certified Driver Trainer Eric Ramsdell, it’s CAMARADERIE - a culture where not only are you treated with the utmost respect and welcomed like family, but also an environment where everybody helps everybody. Life on the road can be lonely, and Eric adds that knowing you are part of a group that looks to achieve something great will help keep you heading in the right direction. The 2015 and 2022 National Truck Driving and Step Van Competition champion joins Life By The Mile to talk about great company cultures, the love for trucking, and the camaraderie that truck drivers share. Tune in now!

Eric Ramsdell

Eric Ramsdell is a Certified Driver Trainer at Walmart Distribution Center


deep down there is still that camaraderie that's one of the best things about the trucking industry is the camaraderie amongst drivers yes we all drive for different companies and some of us the companies are competing but when it gets down to the driver level it's all about safety being home being safe going down the roadway getting the freight where it needs to be and helping one another out to be safer and be the better drivers welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of America's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by Trucking indicted to tell story compelling driver story I need to do something insightful industry Excellence all here right now this is likely the mile delivered by freightworks I'm your host Butch malpe now we a quick reminder our episodes come two times a week we want everybody to like share and subscribe it's because of you doing that we're able to have on exciting insightful and frankly just interesting yes like we're going to have right now Eric Ramsdell certified driver trainer at Walmart Distribution Center you know I I also learned I guess in 2022 American Trucking association's National Truck Driving Championship flatbed national champion 2018 to 20 21 Walmart Road team uh 2015-16 America's Road team captain you know goes on and on and on and on and on and uh but you know the most important thing is here at life of the wild delivered by freightworks we just want to tell the incredible powerful exciting sometimes errant stories of drivers so Eric thank you so much for being with us

thank you very much Butch I appreciate the time and the willingness to have me on today absolutely now now listen uh tell us how did you get into driving

it was kind of a um a weird uh twist of fate um I was uh I got my license when I was very young uh right out of high school I went to work for the Missouri highway department I'm originally from Central Missouri okay I got my license my classmates through the state of Missouri okay I worked for them for summer health and relief help from from now for a little while then I went to college for a little while found out that was not my cup of tea so I became a mechanic moved to Arizona in 1997. as a mechanic mechanic got here for a few months really wasn't working out for me so I had my CDL my class A in my back pocket I said you know what I'll go drive for a little while uh kind of make a little money do try to get my head above water and that was 20 now 25 years ago I haven't looked back since I worked for a local food service company for about seven years and then came over to Walmart in 2004. now it's interesting now it's a little aside I've got a brain that remembers uh colleges and universities your your college don't they have a mule it's it's like a mule right

well you know I figured I wanted to stay with the whole show me state and the representative

Metro Missouri State home of the meals good good good school it's been around for a while it trains a lot of people but you know for some reason I remember logos and I remember the mascots of different schools and for some reason when I saw that I thought I think that's the mule school but you know that's a good metaphor for drivers you know drivers just keep pulling things forward don't they oh yes yes anytime you can relate something or I think it's an acronym per se that's that's how I remember things so sure now let me let me ask you this I think it's really important when you started driving did you find that it was difficult at first did you find uh for example you remember the first time you backed up a trailer

well uh being raised on a farm I remember that a long time ago when I was very little and my dad uh reprimanded me and telling me to think and focus and figure it out um take my time and be slow and then I remember the first time I pulled a semi trailer though first time I drove a truck um was in the city of Phoenix I took a corner and took it a little short and kind of got real close to the curb and I said whoa that thing's a lot longer than I thought uh so then after I did that it kind of It kind of dawned on me hey I got to really pay attention really watch what I'm doing and focus on on my making my turns wider and everything and I think the next turn I took I was had enough room but for a school bus to fit between me and the curb so uh I learned I learned pretty quickly on how to adjust uh which you kind of have to have in today's society and in the trucking industry you have to be able to learn and adapt quickly uh which I was able to do do very young age due to my upbringing uh on the farm that is so good you know it's just a quick uh a side step here but uh I I learned to drive on a farm my uncle's dairy farm up in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania and I was uh I was 12 years old and he handed me the keys to the pickup truck and said uh there's a big field there so you can go out there and just kind of drive and and learn there's something to be said about those early formative experiences aren't there like what were some early experiences in your life that you believe have helped create the character of who you are and the distinguished driver that you are today okay can you tell us some some stories and lessons and your family I just share about that yes my family uh growing up we did uh custom harvesting and custom hay baling um so we did square bales well my brother being about 11 years older than me I always hauled the hay after my dad bailed it up so we had a a half ton Ford pickup and a 16 foot flatbed trailer and then moved on to a bigger trailer later on so he would get two or three of his his high school friends to help him oh hey well they needed a driver well me being seven eight years old I they put me the the trucks had four-speed manual transmission so they could put it in low gear and say all you got to do is drive it don't even worry about touching the gas

seven eight years old isn't that something so yeah so what you're out in the field and they said just keep it between this hay bale and this hay bale so I would just drive the truck and they said if you dump the load you get to load it by yourself reload it so I always tried to take it very easy and make sure that I was able to turn the corners and stuff and and be it very smooth for them for one I didn't want to hurt them but two I didn't want to load that hay back on the trailer by myself so right you know that that short story that you just gave talked about the power of learning early and the and the power of of hard hard work which I know is so important there at Walmart can you talk a little bit about what you have seen change in the world of Professional Driving from the days when you first came in what has changed along the way

a lot of the industry and even before me a lot of of drivers their family had been driving or their dad or been driving for years so they had that experience of at least being in the truck or knowing what the industry was like and nowadays I've seen where it's almost like people get into it for the first time and they're in their 30s 40s 50s whatever the case might be and they don't have the experience of pulling big big vehicles and you you somewhat feel for them because they're doing this either out of necessity or something they want but it's hard for them to get that experience so they're kind of learning as they go which is great that companies give them the ability to do that so um it's just kind of a little bit the drivers that are coming on nowadays don't have the years of experience in the trucking industry so they're just kind of learning as they go that's the biggest change I've seen over over the day they look for people to give them the right advice and point them in the right direction and you can only hope that you take the time the season drivers take the time to to find someone say hey let me show you a little bit better way to do this you know right and of course in the role that you're in of course this is our Eric ramstel he's a certified driver trainer at Walmart Distribution Center and uh are you in Arizona

great yes sir yeah and uh and and so you know my dad was a pilot in the Air Force and he used to talk to me back in the day about how older Pilots would help younger Pilots learn he flew in the military and then flew for American Airlines do you find that drivers still have some camaraderie Eric with each other and help each other out because there have been a lot of folks that have said no everybody's out for themselves and I know that's not Walmart's culture Walmart has a distinguished culture when it comes to to driving what do you find about that these days

I I find that deep down there is still that camaraderie that's one of the best things about the trucking industry is the camaraderie amongst drivers yes um we all drive for different companies and some of us the companies are competing but when it gets down to the driver level it's all about safety being home being safe going down the roadway getting the freight where it needs to be and helping one another out to be safer and be better drivers that's the biggest biggest thing about the industry I've had drivers from other companies that I've learned a lot from and I hope to pass that on to the next Generation it's it's challenging at times when you come across somebody and you try to assist them or help them they go oh no no I got this okay well that's fine you know but uh but yes deep down the camaraderie amongst the driver group is still there a lot of Veteran drivers will be happy to help you if you ask them and some of them will come over say hey here's a better way to do this and as long as the driver stays open-minded it'll still Will Go On from from generations to come I believe now but let me let me ask you this what does it take to become a certified driver trainer at Walmart

well when you when you become a certified driver trainer at Walmart uh usually you're asked by the safety manager and the general transportation manager if it's something you'd be interested in doing if so they will set you up to go through the North American Transportation Management Institute course for certified driver trainers it's a two-day course you'll go and take that course and get certified through through Nat name we call it and then uh after you do that you submit all your documents to napney and they get you certified to become a certified driver trainer and and so what would a typical week for you look like

a typical week for me is just I go in I'm a driver like anybody else I just happen to have the ability to to help and assist drivers when need be because of the certified driver training I would start on a Monday go wherever uh the dispatch needs me to go with a store load and maybe pick up a backhaul and come back into a distribution center and take another Loadout we do a lot of back and forth within the DC's distribution centers uh I may leave Buckeye and travel Southern California with you know Northern California maybe over into Nevada and through Utah and back to Buckeye at the end of my week or I may just stay locally here in Phoenix uh Tucson Arizona area all week it all just depends on the freight flow and and the low to where the freight is so wherever Walmart needs me to go that's what I'll do halfway through my week or part away for my week if they have somebody that needs a little bit of of assistance in an area that they're struggling with they'll pull me in and say hey can you spend four five six six hours or whatever with this driver and a system in areas that they're they're struggling with yeah yeah you know what's interesting most people don't realize how many trucks Walmart has on the road any given day and how much merchandise is in that in the in those trucks I've done a little research it's pretty incredible isn't it yes sir yes sir there's a lot of freight out there that that is Walmart related so and we appreciate all the carriers out there that help us move that Freight because uh Walmart drivers alone can't can't move at all so now when you look at the current uh status of the trucking Market I'm not asking you to be like Freight waves or give analytics or any of that but when you look at where the Truckee Market is these days where do you see we are I mean of course social media and the News talks about supply chain issues talks about price of diesel fuel how many weeks of inventory we have of that you know there are drivers like you that care about those things because when the rubber hits the road you're the one driving down the road can you give a quick assessment for people because we've got folks that aren't drivers that watch this podcast give a quick assessment of where you think we are in terms of America's Trucking Enterprise

I know I know it's been challenging for all companies out there uh finding good good solid qualified help um Walmart's done a a great job I believe in the last few years of getting good qualified help on board um but the industry as the ATA States is is struggling with a shortage of drivers but I know every company's working very hard out there to keep America moving forward so companies are doing doing whatever they can feasible to battle offset fuel costs and offset Transportation costs not only fuel but you have supplies oils tires all that stuff has gone up with the with the economy going up and the price of things going up and it's also a challenge getting supplies parts and and supplies for your trucks so I know not only Walmart is challenged with that every every company out there I believe is challenged with that so it's it's an Ever Ever ending battle but uh but I think Walmart is doing as well as anybody out there you know a number of young people I have the Opera I used to by the way I I came into Freight works here because the founder Josh uh farmer is a friend and he and I talked about launching a podcast I had no background in trucking and Logistics like none and uh freightworks one Studio where we are is right around the corner from our big drivers lounge and I did that on purpose I said I don't want an office I want to be with the drivers so I'm often with them and they think because I've got a shirt on with a collar that I'm somebody that can you know they'll come in and complain about my truck's broken you got to get it fixed I have learned so much in the year and a half I've been here every single driver has been an incredible instructor now listen if you were to talk to some high school students who are considering the possibility of going to college or not going to college or finding a career in trucking Logistics what would you say to them I mean what would be on your heart to say to them if you had a hundred men and women and and they're all trying to figure out what's next what would be your argument to them about why they ought to consider Trucking and Logistics as a career

ago I went to a job fair at a high school school and and and spoke to students about that and they all kind of look at you kind of funny because you're standing amongst a bunch of college recruiters and all of us and Military recruiters and and I just talked to them about the trucking industry how how how much variety there is in the trucking industry they don't the tracking agency isn't just driving a truck there is Warehouse help that loads the trucks there's mechanics that work on the trucks there's designers and Engineers that build the trucks but if you want a job to where you can travel the country and get paid for it to travel and and sightsee and if you're not sure where you want to settle down you can use the trucking industry to see different parts of the country and it's it's a job that gives you a lot of freedom to move around and Be Your Own Boss and it doesn't take a college education to get it I always support College I tell everybody go to college try it out I did I tried it for three semesters found out it wasn't my cup of tea so that's what I try to tell Young Folks I says you can try College if you wish to or trade school and if it if it works out for you great but if not the trucking industry is such a great industry to get into because along those uh jobs that I just posted there's also insurance jobs medical examiners all kinds of jobs that's related to the trucking industry plus there's always going to be a need for a truck driver or a truck going down the road and moving the nation's economy because without the trucks the world in the America will come to us stop and most people don't realize that you know I I've got a 90 year old mother in Lancaster Pennsylvania that after I came here to freightworks she started watching the podcast she now Clips out articles on everything going on in the trucking industry sends them to me and says you need to mention this stuff people don't realize if if America's professional drivers all decided in one week we're having a bad week and we're just not going to move anything America doesn't realize what the impact would be do they yeah yeah no they don't a lot of them you know they might would realize but they don't think about it on a daily basis but it is it is astronomical on how quick and how fast the shelves would become empty gas stations would run out of gas uh hospitals would run out of raw materials or oxygen and Food Supplies it would it would be a very big blow to the economy if the trucking industry decided to stop so thank goodness drivers not all drivers agree on everything so we don't come to that that scenario but yes if if the trucking industry was to agree and everybody shut down at one time it would not would not be good for for the world or the American economy as it is I'm going to go through in the next couple of minutes just a couple of phrases and ask you to give me a reaction is that okay okay uh forward-facing cameras

I I enjoy it um it's there to help uh help the driver and assist the driver I believe the way the way the cameras are used I think they're a great asset to the the professional driver in the trucking industry let me let me ask you this uh speed limitations like uh you know making your truck only go so fast

well being a driver for for Walmart our trucks as most people know are at a set speed so I don't have too big of an issue with it as far as my truck um I believe that that legislation is working hard on that I know they'll find the best way around that um I just I it's one of those things it's there's people on both sides of the story on that so I think I think legislation ATA and all that will come down with a good answer with that what about uh shortage of truck parking spots in America what what are your what are your thoughts on that how do you deal with it

I'm very fortunate that I'm able to stay at a lot of our stores and clubs and our distribution centers uh yes I have been in some meetings some Roundtable discussions about truck parking it is an ongoing challenge I know States and local uh companies are working on that State Trading associations are working on with State authorities to on on getting more parking for drivers out there it is it is an ongoing challenge the more and more development goes on in these cities uh the the parking spots for truck drivers is getting getting fewer and fewer Eric this might be the most important question uh and I've asked this of many drivers do you have a favorite eating place that's a Hidden Gem somewhere off some exit and the food is just great and are you willing to share about it

you know I've had I've handled at a lot of different places and I can't even remember the exit because I've only driven by there one time there's a place off of Interstate 40 in Oklahoma in Eastern Oklahoma that is a really good eating joint and it's a little small mom and pop place but I could not tell you the exit or the name of the place I just remember stopping through there one time and we went this is really good food and it's it's it's just a a local mom and pop place and it was really good food I just wish I could remember where it was at yeah you know I know you're not hedging I can tell already that you're an honest guy so I know you're you're not hedging on that I have had drivers that have responded to me when I've asked that question and said I'm not going to tell the world where one of my favorite eating places is Butch then there have been others that are so quick to say it's exit number 114a off of whatever and I can tell they go there regularly but you know it's almost axiomatic that if you see a bunch of trucks there and they got parking for it is probably good good food that's that's uh that's gonna that's gonna be there let me ask you a quick question here about Walmart specifically where you know the mark of a good conversation I often say this on the podcast a good conversation is one that goes quickly and we're soon gonna have to take an exit but not before I offer you a gift in a minute here let me ask you to talk very specifically about Walmart what what do you love about working about the uh with this iconic company that uh you know is really I've traveled to 104 countries every inhabited continent around the world and Walmart is just one of those brands that represents America why do you love working for Walmart so much

well Butch I believe you said it earlier that just the camaraderie and the at-home attitude and the culture with Walmart it is such a family oriented company and it's just we're all one part of one big thing Walmart is a vast company that's worldwide but when you get into the transportation in in the warehouse side and even on the store side there each store is all their own little city but it's all about the family the the basic beliefs of Sam Walton and a camaraderie amongst everybody it's like you're all pulling in the same direction and it's it's just everybody helps everybody it's just a family atmosphere and that's that's what I like about Walmart is it's just they make you feel home they don't make you feel like just a number you're out there all by yourself there's always somebody there to support you phone call away yes we'll do what we can to support you and help you so it's that's what I like about Walmart more than anything well and you know what in in ways that are absolutely minute compared to that freightworks is the same kind of company we tell people often we're people of Faith we're a diverse company and as an asset based carrier we're wanting to make sure everybody feels like they're part of the family uh Eric Ramsdell certified driver trainer at Walmart Distribution Center now it's my opportunity to offer you a gift okay well there there's no gift needed I just appreciate the time to be able to come on no no we we do this we do this for everybody okay all right so we've got I I you just need to say yes to one of them okay unless there's company policy that says no we've got our certified uh freightworks one cap here by the way I went to the Mid-America truck show if you ever gone before

yeah uh no I have not been to Mid-America yet it's it was a guess the one in Dallas okay well it was uh for somebody new to trucking Logistics a million square feet you know 80 000 people there all kinds of trucks so anyway we got the freightworks One logo cap we also have our life of the mile cap this is uh this has gone over really big with a lot of truck drivers it's got a patriotic theme in the back there it's got the genuine leather patch and then uh I've had different people from different places around the country describe what this is called it's like a beanie and the weather is getting even here in North Carolina we've got like little flecks of snow I think outside it's got the life of the mile logo every single guest that we've had on the 207 episodes that we've done in a little over one year there's not another trucking company that's produced more podcast episodes to God be the glory than this one in the last year or so so those are the three options which of those three might we send you

I tell you what Butch I do greatly appreciate it you know what would make me feel the greatest if you was to take one of those that you would normally send to me and you walk outside and you find a young adult a young child that would need a hat or would like a hat I would appreciate if you give that to me that is that is that is so wonderful and uh you know Eric it's been a joy to have you have you on today uh would there be a couple of concluding comments that you'd want to make as it relates to your certified driving work uh Trucking in general you know our audience is diverse and and growing so I'm going to give you the opportunity to take a minute and just share anything that's on your heart

I just I just want to thank you again for the time Butch and and I've had such a blessed life uh working for the previous company they treated me really well and then I came over to Walmart and they've been nothing but spectacular to me there's many different different uh things that Walmart allows us to do they allow drivers to get engaged with the company to learn about the company that allows versatility and doing many many things they've supported me on America's Road team they've supported me with the Walmart routine the truck driving championships they support me with a certified driver training there's so many things that Walmart does to support their their Associates it's just outstanding company to work for so I just I can't count my blessings I've had such a great great time in the trucking industry and I don't I don't plan on retiring anytime soon so that's the big thing is is that the trading industry is a great big family and Walmart really really supports that you know what you've been an able and articulate spokesperson for Walmart of course we know it's a reputation and uh you know your your your nephews and your your younger sisters and brothers out here with companies like freightworks every time we see a Walmart truck go by we know it's going to be safe we know it's got a strong team behind it and uh it's what makes our our country so great Eric it's been a joy to have you on and I hope it's uh not the last time that we'll have you on make sure you can do what you can to push out this episode and and encourage people to come and learn more about the exciting world of trucking and Logistics here at life of the mile I'm really grateful that you took the time today and for the support team that you have uh we're grateful as well and uh let's let's fight each other along the way okay

I would I would love that and thanks again for the time Butch appreciate the opportunity you have a blessed night


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 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

Get emails about design, user experience, user interface & productivity each week. We'll keep them short & to the point.

Thank you! Be on a lookout for an email from us!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.