John Welch

Interview by
Published on
June 28, 2022

In this episode...

FreightWorks driver John Welch gives a humble explanation of what America’s millions of over-the-road professionals face with each unpredictable mile. There can be menacing weather, inevitable mechanical issues surfacing in the most inopportune moments, and just the physical challenges of managing 80,000 pounds of whatever load is in the loaded trailer. For anyone who’s ever wondered what the “real story” is for the 3.5 million men and women who have a seat in that truck you just passed, this podcast episode will help you appreciate even more the incredible moment-by-moment sacrifices made by the people who keep America moving.

John Welch

FreightWorks Professional Truck Driver.


just let me just pay attention you know don't don't push your body more than you know it can do uh if you start getting tired you need to pull off you know you need to do something you don't keep driving that's that's when a lot of accidents happen you know being fatigued welcome to life by the mile delivered by brakeworks one of america's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by trucks indicted to tell stories compelling driver stories

i am so excited to have john with me here today now john you've been with freightworks before as a matter of fact i had to look at my notes on this john welch you were here you were gone you were here you were gone and now you're back right that's right well you know we're going to dive into this a little bit later uh on on what brought you back to freight works we know there's a lot of turnover in the industry but let's let's start off by finding a little bit more about you where where were you born uh south texas a little town called durbington okay you're a native texan i am i am too i was born in lubbock oh up in the pan am up in the panhandle you know what they mean it in texas when they say don't mess with texas don't they do i do yeah and it's like a country people don't realize how huge it is oh it's self-sustaining exactly and of course we're not going to get into politics on the podcast here but we've got a lot of companies that are moving there too there's no state income tax they like that and a lot of big companies already there you know 18t a lot of big ones over here in dallas yeah i remember living in coppell we had frito-lay dr pepper you got exxon you got a lot of big companies there that's not why we're here today how did you get into professional driving john well uh it was one of my goals i guess uh one a dream of mine uh i've had family that did it years ago um one of them was uh military then truck driving and then to be a cop i had two out of the three just never made it to the third one okay so you were exposed to it early on i was i had a an uncle uh that did it he had a joke for keller a long time ago when he'd come home i i would hop in his truck every now and then check it out you know as a kid it was great uh then watching smoking the bandit you know stuff like that growing up kind of just further pushed it it got it so do you think that most drivers have something in them that just likes to be free and out there and not hunkered down behind a desk i think so it's it's a whole different ball game you know it's not it's not for everybody you know it's uh it takes a special kind of person to be gone all the time away from home for weeks months you know however long you're out for um live in a truck all cooped up for you know seven days a week it takes a special person yeah well and you know what it's special people like you of course that make up what freightworks is all all about what what is it about driving that most people that have never been near a truck or on the road don't understand what are the things that you know most people out there in the public what tell me some of the things just describe some of the things they're not aware of that the truck professional drivers have to deal with um

essentially one of the biggest things is uh its size you know what it takes to stop one what it takes to get up and go on what it takes to change lanes with one you know it's it's much harder to maneuver than their car is you know and they expect us to be able to do the same thing their car can do and it's just not going to happen um and i guess the other thing would be our hours you know hours of service that we gotta abide by yeah explain to people what a week is like i mean what hours of service are they don't even really understand that well uh i guess a simple form would be within an eight-day period you have 70 hours that you can work before you have to take a 34-hour reset um where you're off duty or whatever as long as you're not on duty you're driving you know over 34 hours it'll reset your clock then within that you have a 14 hour clock which is

the maximum amount of hours

well really explain the 1490 explaining the 11 2 um you have 11 hours that you can legally drive right through the day within that 14 hour window you can work past the 14 hours um as long as you don't drive again before you had a 10 hour break you know off duty or in your sleeper this is a this is a great example though of a lot of people think you just jump in the truck and you go they don't understand they don't understand your pre-trip checks your all that stuff right just going down the road just just a steady pace on the interstate you know i've got a million different things going on you know i've got several mirrors i'm constantly having to watch i got people around me i'm constantly having to watch i've got the time management i've got to deal with you know i've got to make sure my time's right where i'm going to stop at next get fuel you know i got to worry about my weights you know weigh stations just a whole mess of stuff it's it's constantly going through your head when you're driving down the interstate it's not like getting your car and just going up to mcdonald's you know or to walmart you know you just drive and get there and go back home you know during the trip there's so much more involved right people do not understand that and even little things like when when you get when you get cars coming on an on-ramp they don't understand you're coming and they don't navigate that very well or you get cars that are doing brake checks on you i mean you deal with a lot of that kind of stuff um the uh the on-ramp is uh funny because most cars out there they uh i've noticed a lot they seem to think that i have to yield the right away to them you know like i have to move over or i have to slow down and this isn't just in a truck this isn't a car or whatever you know when and they they think it's like a law that i have to let them it's not it's you know as the driver coming down the on-ramp it's your responsibility to merge with the oncoming crap right meaning you have to adjust your speed you know look in your mirrors put your phone down you know worry about what's going on outside your car not inside it yes i see a lot of it i had to help my almost 90 year old mother by the way who's still driving i had to i had to help her under that's a different conversation but i had to help her understand that one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to stop on the on-ramp no yeah no that's never a good thing yeah that's that's that's not a good thing i i could have used your advice when i had that conversation with her what's worse is when you stop in the uh left lane on an interstate at about three in the morning and leave your flashers on and start walking down the median back the other way had that happen to me you did i did car stop just complete stop left lane in the middle of the left lane not over to the side just in the middle of it terrible about three four in the morning terrible well and it just be speaks the fact that professional drivers have to be constantly aware constantly engaged constantly looking and as trucks become more sophisticated it doesn't mean that your responsibilities diminish at all no no actually it increases right you know even with all this new computerized sensors and everything it increases you know like the one uh there's one that goes in the front bumper and it's supposed to uh if a car breaks in front of you it's supposed to activate your brakes and uh i've had a couple that you know if if a vehicle a certain distance in front of you starts slowing down it would adjust and slow down to that speed as well and you basically keep the same distance the only problem with that is i had it happen to me one time in new jersey where i was in the right lane and i had a car shoot across right in front of me slam on their brakes to get off the exit and it locked up my brakes and once it once it engages and locks up the only way you can regain control again is by pressing the gas pedal so i'm sitting there skidding watching my trailer come out you know so i mean even with all the safety features yeah you've got to constantly be aware and that's one of the reasons why here at freight works we reinforce safety all the time but we reinforce that professional drivers are professional drivers 80 000 pounds is a lot to have to navigate and stop and go and and a lot of folks that are out there that are just pedestrian drivers have no have no real awareness of that let me ask you this there's a lot of turnover in the trucking industry in there oh there is why do you think people leave companies a mixture of things uh top ones is uh pay and uh home time that's that's the top two that i can think of because you hear horror stories we have folks that come to freight works and i can't believe some of the ways they've been treated i mean in the last 10 years i've been driving like i mean we could fill up five shows probably with horror stories that i know of you know it it happens a lot yeah and it's so interesting because when you look at the marketing for all the different companies you hear you're not a number you're part of a family good home time good pay safety good truck i mean you hear all the same stuff out there don't you a lot of them a lot of them will advertise that you know and then you get there and you're you're still just a number you know i mean they may treat you a little different right there at the first couple days while you're in their orientation you know they may you know treat you good but once you get out of the orientation and then one of their trucks get on the road it's back to the same thing as any other company you know it's you're just a number really well you know one thing that i love about be having the studio here freight works one studio right next to the drivers lounge it's just interacting with all the different drivers solos teams men women young old and you know the thing that comes through john is that people are working hard for their families for their families and i never want to lose sight we as a company never want to lose sight of in some cases some little children looking through the front window to see if mom or dad are coming home safely you know and uh and so family is very important here at freight works tell us about yours i want to hear about your family well uh i'm engaged i have between the two of us we have three and one that's due in july last week in july it's so wonderful and you were telling me before the podcast here it's a boy it is it's a boy and you have a name it's travis wayne travis wayne uh she actually just had an appointment yesterday for another uh ultrasound and he's looking pretty good great that's got to be exciting it is it's very exciting yeah and it's like a zoo at my house though now are you going to be one of those dads that's got pictures in your truck uh now i i have a bunch of them on phone though on your phone okay a bunch yeah um i i love it i love it because it's a good reminder the reason you're driving hard and fast and now you're going to be on is is for the family you'll be on the chores route i will yeah and explain to people where that is and what they do and well uh the plant is centralized in gulfport mississippi

it runs lanes generally back over here towards is generally the east coast area eastern half on occasion you might get a couple in oklahoma or kansas but it really don't go any further north than that they do have some that goes out to the west coast but uh those are going to be for the or the road drivers that go back and forth coast to coast um i'd be on the dedicated basically a kind of a dedicated regional what do you what do you think is the biggest difference for a driver being on a dedicated route and you're over the road people i mean what are there some challenges to that or there's some things you got to watch out for what explain that for people well uh

essentially is this what uh it's what the name suggests you know the the regional you're you kind of really operate within a certain region of the us and you know you get the regular over the road the line hall is just anywhere in the u.s you know just wherever the low goes um no real certain area they operate in can it become so familiar that it becomes dangerous because you think well i can do this with my eyes shut um or not really well it it can you kind of start to get complacent i mean you know where every exit is you know where every there's a one i did a while back uh that uh this base it was the same trip just about like a couple times a week and same road same everything you know uh and i guess you can start getting complacent you know just a little laid back a little easier you know and that's kind of when things could happen let me ask you a question that i know you're going to say yes to okay okay are you a safe driver i most of the time i am okay andy our safety director he'll say no which times aren't you but uh no i i know freightworks has saved safe drivers what do you think it takes to keep that edge every day i mean you get tired i mean how do you keep yourself at that appropriate place of being vigilant well just let me just pay attention you know don't don't push your body more than you know it can do if you start getting tired you need to pull off you know you need to do something you don't keep driving that's that's when a lot of accidents happen you know being fatigued uh that's what i do if i start feeling tired tired enough where my eyes start wanting to close you know i'll pull off i let them know hey i i didn't get enough sleep or or something that happened or whatever it was you know and i i can't in good conscious keep going with this load you know i might i don't want to run the risk of killing somebody yeah that's good because my family rides down these roads exactly exactly now talk about your relationship with the driver manager how important is that it's pretty important communication's uh pretty important with uh your dispatcher that way they kind of know what you're wanting you know what they want you know uh you got a kind of a little teamwork thing going you know it basically boils down to communication yeah who's your driver manager uh kevin is okay kevin uh he's never been my dispatcher before but i have talked to him in the past you know when he fill him for whoever i was talking to whoever my dispatcher might have been at the time um but pretty good group of people in there you know all of them all dispatched with so many different options out there i mean uh everybody's looking for drivers can you describe why you came back to freight works i mean there's a salad bar of driving opportunities out there if you're a driver and you put your name out there you're gonna get calls from people all over the place so why did you come back well um it just boils down to i trust britt works i love it here um i can come here knowing that i won't be treated good i'll be treated like family i'm knowing that when i get in that truck i'm gonna be making money when the wheels are turning i'm making money i'm not i'm not getting uh somebody telling me oh you're gonna make this much you know when and i get my check and it's not anywhere close to that you know they they tell you something that's generally what happens um so i know for a fact that i'm going to make good money i know for a fact that i'm gonna be treated very well like family you know um i'm gonna be respected um been i mean to be fair you need to show the same as they show to you you know that's kind of how it works that's kind of how you get to where i'm at you know with the way i'm treated here and everything you know you got to show the same treatment well the thing that gives you john's i know you know this so much credibility is that there aren't a lot of drivers at freight works that were here and left here and left and then came back and so i mean you're unique in that respect which is one of the reasons why i think this podcast will be interesting for a lot of people look he's gone and he's seen other things and i know life it changes for people you have life experiences sometimes that cause you to need to go to another place but the fact that you came back here is really it's beautiful well i i've never anytime i left here it was never because of anything freightworks had done you know it was i mean they've been a great company to me even when i wasn't here you know um it was usually just a personal thing and i think the first time i left i'd just for my family i just wanted off the road you know spend time at home you know get a job at home come home every day you know uh the last time i'd left uh was because i wanted to do an own rob thing yeah and i couldn't do it here um i talked with them and everything first before i left see if it was possible here so i wouldn't have to leave so i decided to leave for that and uh now i left doing that to go back home for the last year i've been working a job at home where i'm home every day and where do you look john i live about two hours from here okay uh west of here over the other side of the mountains okay so okay well you came back and i said before the podcast came on we we hope you retire here now you may have a wanderlust you may go somewhere else but somehow i think you're gonna end up if you leave again you'll end up back here because you got you got freight works in your blood i do um and even if i

even if i do leave here again it it would just be for a job at home it wouldn't be for another family is really important my family is very important to me you know so they're always in the back of my mind when i make my decisions um

but i do love it here it is a great company to work for um i have people i'll leave reviews on freightworks websites or their facebook and i have uh i still get messages and uh my message requests on my messenger uh asking me about the company you know if i'm still there or you know how much can i make you know so then i'll try to answer them you know when i can but anytime i forget this that is so well don't forget yeah i forget message request is there most of the time don't forget but you know what what we have found to be true is that a driver is the most important recruiter out there drivers will listen to other drivers before they listen to a company talking about itself so we really we want to do whatever we can to empower you to tell our story that's very true um but you do have to be careful sometimes with that because you could go to a company or be thinking about going to a company and you might talk to one of the drivers they had but he may not have been a very good driver right or something like that so he's going to give you a bad right so in other words you need to you need to make sure that you're talking john to a a driver that's a good driver that's motivated and happy with the company well i would i would say talk to at least eight nine or ten drivers for that company yeah kind of get an average and get it get an average of things there because you for for that one driver that's given a bad review you might have nine more that's doing everything they're supposed to be doing there and they love it there yeah so folks we're talking to john welch he was here at freight works uh he left he was here he left and he came back and uh he's now going to be driving on a dedicated route with clemors which is a key strategic partner you know it helps when you have companies that have dedicated accounts like this because it insulates you from a lot of the volatility of course in in the market and you know some estimates john are that a third of the current owner operators may not make it through the current economic situation that we're in you know they bought trucks when trucks were very inflated price-wise they're looking at fuel prices and you know don't necessarily have the surcharges that are built into contracts and the likes so it we we we expect we're going to have some motor operators that reach out to us and say i just don't want to do that at least for now right well it is getting rough out there it's changing certainly isn't it it is um we can we could talk about politics all day long but yeah we probably shouldn't you know you're right uh yeah discretion is the better part of valor there folks uh this is life of the mile delivered by freightworks we want to make sure that you subscribe to our youtube channel we just went over 700 subscribers it's growing we're on audio platforms everywhere we want to make sure that you recruit other people to come on board as as listeners and as viewers it's our way to reinforce that professional drivers are the backbone of the american economy and here at freight works of course we have drivers of every age uh drivers of of different ethnicities and backgrounds and the like if you're interested in learning whether you're to be part of this team just reach out to us and you'll have somebody that returns the call and engages in a productive and profitable conversation let me ask you a quick question when you're not with your family and not driving or maybe as a family you do this do you have things that are recreational um well i like to take the kids to the park when i get the chance or out doing something yeah um when i get back home uh i'm hoping to when i get back home i'm taking them down to the river that i'm swimming the river from oh that's great madness up it's the mountain river so you know they're pretty clean pretty nice and cool they are very cool it's which is a shocker for as hot as it is but uh they love stuff like that um you're a family guy i can tell i i try to be yeah i try to be and of course uh here at freight works family is is unbelievably important we consider ourselves to be a corporate family you're part of that there is no company without drivers happy drivers safe honored protected and well-compensated drivers so speaking of confidence uh compensation it's uh it's not a lot but you get a gift for being a guest on life by the mile today you do and i'm gonna be like a qvc or home shopping network person one option here with this one over great at mats is a life of the mile it's got a leather patch with your red white and blue on the back hat the other is a genuine yeti mug and it's got the freightworks one logo there it's got the life by the mile logo yeti is its own culture these will last for a lifetime or we've got the freightworks one cap with that bold number one logo there so which one of these would you like um but i like the cup great you know what that is picked by many uh it's genuine yeti life of the mile breakworks one you've now become an official podcast guest you are an ambassador for life of the mile recruit subscribers oh fancy fancy you heard it folks fancy i've not heard freight works described as fancy before but the mug at least is uh is fancy so john if you if you had 30 seconds or a minute to tell a group of 10 prospective drivers why they ought to at least kick the tires at freight works just as a review what would you say to them if they were sitting right there what would you say to them driver to driver i would say life is all about taking risks um i would definitely take one and try freight works out great short sweet and to the point john we appreciated having you here today and uh you'll be hitting the road probably tomorrow uh i think so okay and uh so safe travels we pray for drivers here you know it's a company that's committed and built on faith it doesn't mean that everybody has a faith commitment but the leadership does and it's very important that you know that we care about you this is life of the mile delivered by freight works i'm your host butch malphie make sure you subscribe to the youtube channel get the notifications that's very important make sure that you encourage others to become a part of the life by the mild team as we grow we continue to be able to bring interesting guests motivating guests like john who's with us here today here in gone here and gone here again and we're really grateful you're part of the team i'm happy to be back really every week twice a week life of the mile delivered by freightworks make sure you subscribe become a part of the life of the mile family

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 the channel by clicking here we'll see you there


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