Roland Bolduc

Interview by
Published on
November 11, 2022

In this episode...

THE CHAMP IS HERE: get ready to hear amazing stories about life on the road from 2x National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion, Roland Bolduc! Life By The Mile is honored to have the 2017 and 2022 NTDC winner share stories about the truck driving industry that only a seasoned driver can tell you - the camaraderie of truck drivers, how truck drivers are usually first to help another motorist on the road, how companies have navigated through challenges through the years, and how sharing his love for trucks with his grandson keeps his passion for the industry strong. Bolduc has more than 2.5 million safe driving miles in his more than 40-year career. He was named an America’s Road Team Captain in 2000.

Roland Bolduc

Roland Bolduc is a 2x National Truck Driving Championships Grand Champion. Bolduc has more than 2.5 million safe driving miles in his more than 40-year career. He was named an America’s Road Team Captain in 2000. Currently, he is a proud driver for FedEx.


went to a truck Convoy this past Sunday brought my grandchild with me four and almost five years old his first time ever in a big truck and child seat strapped down in the passenger seat on the way there he I said you don't look happy he says I'm very sad I said why are you sad he goes I'm up very high I'm not used to this [Laughter] welcome to life of the mile delivered by freightworks one of America's fastest scoring podcasts actually produced by Trucking he died at the tell story I need to do something insightful industry Excellence all Here Right Now swipe out the mild alert by freightworks I'm your host Butch Maltby we love the opportunity to keep coming to you twice a week with this podcast make sure you subscribe to the YouTube channel and also remember we're on audio podcast platforms everywhere now listen we have an exciting guest today I'm going to tell you a little bit about them that we're gonna jump right in and have a conversation about what makes drivers great in America Roland Baldock a professional driver with FedEx Express was named the Bendix grand champion at the conclusion of the 85th National truck driving and step band driving championships now Baldock competing in the sleeper bird best of the field of 408 drivers with nearly 700 130 million million combined accident-free miles he claimed the coveted title of grand champion at this year's Super Bowl of safety these are the kind of guests that we love having because you know you're distinguishing yourself in a career in in ways that the marketplace is uh is is reflecting so welcome we're so glad you're here thank you butch love to be on your show well you know what let's get started I we've gotten to know each other a little bit just because of our mutual commitment to navigate all kinds of Technology snap Foods here recently but let me ask you this question uh again you got started in trucking because it's in your blood and it was in your family right definitely definitely family owns a trucking company to this day uh it started back in 62 and I was born in 63 so yeah I've been born and raised in the trucking industry right and so you you would go from high school and you'd wash trucks you'd move trucks or I mean you you were exposed to all of it right driving a forklift loading trucks unloading trucks moving furniture it was a moving furniture business as well so yeah I was heavily involved and where did you grow up Hartford Connecticut okay and the business uh started in Hartford then a business moved to East Hartford Connecticut and in uh it was 1983 I wanted something bigger something better actually went to go work for a food service and I would drive from South Windsor Connecticut down to Harlem the Bronx Manhattan oh you went into the city oh yes I was into uh New York City quite a bit and I used to drive down to Day Street and deliver a Woolworths down there and I used to drive by the World Trade Center I'd go a block out of my way just to see the World Trade Center isn't that something you have to and you have to you have to really uh be good at navigating don't you in New York City with a truck oh yeah you better know what you're doing in New York City and and you know what if you don't know what you're doing you're going to hear people tell you that you don't know what you're doing in all likelihood yes definitely that's where I think I got most of my skills were number one watching my dad I learn a lot by watching him he was amazing and number two New York City like I said you better know what you're doing down there and uh be comfortable with your vehicle right it's so interesting because some of the drivers new drivers that we talk to I'll ask them about places that they they don't want to go and invariably you'll hear people say they don't want to go to the Northeast but you you kind of cut your teeth in that region didn't you that's what I learned that's where uh you know the rubber meets the asphalt there I'll tell you yeah you better like I said you better know what you're doing not only in New York City but in New York uh or north of New York into New England there's a lot of congestion and uh things are tight uh you got to be able to maneuver your vehicle in these tight areas right and then of course uh I I lived in Maine for a little bit and a lot of people don't realize that Maine is its own country isn't it Maine is a beautiful country I love Maine it's just gorgeous yeah it is and of course you've got to navigate weather and mechanical issues and all of the like let's talk specifically uh about this competition that you were in because I also learned Roland that it was your second Bendix grand championship you also won that coveted title in 2017 you're an East Longmeadow Massachusetts more than two and a half million safe driving miles in a 40-year career and you were named on an America's Road team as Captain in 2000 can you unpack with the competition is all about what what do you have to do because we have people that watch and listen they just don't know so tell them I'll tell you it's such a great time I enjoy it so much uh I would be looking at retirement but I look at every year as another competition uh number one you have to drive safely you can't be uh out for more than 29 days injured or just you know go off the off the beaten path uh not at work for more than 29 days that's not including your vacation a personal time of course but if you're out injured you can't compete if you're out more than 29 days so that's one requirement the other requirement is drive safe you can't scratch the vehicle at all and there's a little bit of luck involved nobody can hit you it's not just the non-preventables they're uh I mean the the preventables there's non-preventables that gets you knocked out as well so you really have to be aware of your surroundings 100 of the time uh I mean know who's coming at you at every single Direction so drive safe be safe that qualifies you for your state competition your state competition is no joke in the state of Connecticut there's two other Grand on national champions that are in our state there's national champions out of Massachusetts uh it's no joke there's a lot of hard competition in the Northeast we might not get the turnout at the state level that other states do like Ohio where they have 250 competitors just for their state competition uh but the competition that shows up on competition day for the status of truck driving championships they're very hard to beat you know they they come well prepared and interesting well you know one of the things that I noted too is that ATA also recognized my state of North Carolina with the ntdc team championship placing Five drivers into the finals so we've got some good driving good drivers in North Carolina too great people down in North Carolina I love them Mike bills in the straight truck uh Basher I mean just there's wonderful drivers down there but remember have wonderful drivers in every state I'm not just talking about FedEx but this is like I said a family reunion so when you finally win and you're going through your state competition then you go to the Nationals you get to see these people all over again you get to meet their uh grandbabies you get to meet their some of the new people you meet their children meet them spouses uh it's just wonderful to see them year in after year and covet really put a hurting on us we didn't get to go to our family reunion so yeah you know I practiced extra hard read the book a little more than usual and uh really studied up to get to the Nationals to get to my family reunion let me ask you this question what what when people say that drivers just don't have camaraderie with each other anymore or much do you agree with that or disagree I disagree how about uh you know the Seabees are a thing of the past aren't they yeah people used to use them quite a bit did you use one I used to use one up and down uh Route 91 our quarter or 95 and hear where the traffic was and accidents and things like that but now you turn on a GPS it'll tell you where the accidents are it'll tell you where somebody's might be stuck on the side of the road time to move over get out of the right lane things like that so we're not using those citizens band radio as much anymore well that also disconnects us from those fellow drivers that are riding around with us and then when you go into the travel plazas there's a lot more uh four-wheelers a lot more cars in the in the uh Travel Plaza so you really don't you might not know who the truck drivers are and it used to be a little bit different used to be a truck stop where you would meet other drivers have breakfast sitting next to another person at kind of like a diner style truck stop where you you know belly up to the breakfast bar and eat breakfast next to your fellow driver those days are kind of gone you know it's it's a little bit different environment now uh the camaraderie to me is still there uh with the guys that we meet through the truck driving championships you know it's still oh yeah sounds like I love seeing the guys you know true professionals that are doing uh the daily Transportation duties delivering what America needs and then going to the Nationals and seeing you know 408 fellow competitors and their families it really is a special time going to the National Truck Driving championships is it in the same city every year now it moves all over the country uh last year uh this past year was in Indianapolis next year going to Columbus Ohio okay we've been in Salt Lake City we've been in New Orleans nawlins we've been in Orlando one of my favorites we've been in Tampa uh Minnesota it's all over the place so so interesting and you know what it really is a fraternity I mean I we I've got a dear friend that uh rode trucks for 40 years 40 plus years with yellow yellow freight and uh he he had I think it was something like 4 million miles no reportable incidents and and uh he's 84 now he wishes he could get back behind the wheel again and I've had him on this podcast and he told me he said Butch he said the the truck drivers in America are like the last American Cowboys it was just great to be out in the open road and if somebody needed help they would help them it feels like you have that heart and you see that still when you go to the competitions right people look out for each other and care you know we have to provide a bio sheet when we compete in the state competitions and in the state competitions uh I've done announcing in New Hampshire Vermont Rhode Island Connecticut Mass I've done the announcing it for every state and in those bio sheets you will see this person stopped for an accident scene and helped someone save someone's life a car went into a lake and saved somebody out of the car the true heroes are still here they're still in 18 wheelers they're still in tractor trailers the transportation industry still has outstanding individuals behind the wheel and let's face it behind every windshield is a human being and uh a good human being when they're in the transportation industry that's my view that's that's really good and you know recently on like by the mile we had a podcast guest from Downers Grove Illinois who's a fire chief and he was talking about his tremendous respect for professional drivers like you Roland and he talked about examples where drivers and Fire Staff firemen have worked together in situations so he had unbelievable kind things to say yeah I've uh almost had the unfortunate uh

uh acquaintance with firemen being at an accident scene and and helping and holding someone and and it's it's no fun right it's no fun but you know you feel obligated to help right we're the first ones on scene most of the time exactly it exactly and you know our our friends at uh uh truckers against trafficking we're very behind what's what they're they're doing and you think you think of it you really have professional drivers or Watchmen on the walls they're Sentinels they see a lot experience a lot and uh you know I've got a passion before uh my life ends I really want to see America come to better and more deeply appreciate professional drivers the people that are you know out there making America move I think you need to come to Columbus Ohio next year in August coming to the truck driving championships you know what every podcast guest that that we have they become a friend and I stay in touch Roland and I know that that that's something I'll we'll consider and pray about maybe maybe doing that you're a bear you're a consummate spokesperson for him yeah you make it very inviting I mean it almost sounds like a a big Amish get-together you know you know everybody versus yeah okay yeah you just you just have you just got you know trucks there instead let me ask you a question that I've asked some seasoned and distinguished drivers like yourself how has driving changed from when you first started what have been the biggest changes hmm I mean we're still doing the same thing we're still moving Freight uh deregulation changed quite a bit back in 1980 yeah uh that's changed quite a bit but a lot more trucks on the road uh from different companies people starting up on their own uh that part has changed quite a bit a lot of companies have come a lot of companies have gone uh it's it's difficult for a newcomer to navigate the industry is what I see I've seen small companies go under because they were not able to navigate the new ways from 1980 on they had their own set ways and you know weren't able to to move along to update uh but uh so many more vehicles on the road is probably what's changed the most uh not just tractor trailers but the cars and you know there's this thing that we hold in our hand it's the greatest invention in the world and it's the worst invention in the world that's cell phone you know we get to communicate with everyone all over the world you know uh my daughter was traveling in Dubai and I get to call her in Dubai amazing or text her or send messages fantastic but then you look down and you see in a car someone's texting while driving and it's on their lap I mean I'd back away let them go Safety First always it's it's just a philosophy that we study at FedEx I mean safety above all and it's so true you know just what you see on the road with other vehicles navigating and eyes not on the road like we would like them to be the professional truck drivers the Knights of the highway we used to be called right uh are still here we're still doing our job but it's a lot more difficult just with the invention of the cell phone interesting yeah and of course technology has changed too when you have the transformation from your paper logs to electronic logs that was a big change for a lot of people you know I know there's a lot of discussion about forward-facing cameras and and like do you have thoughts on those things the forward facing cameras can really I feel it can really save you yes meaning you know uh somebody just had a little mishap of a different company a friend of mine works there thank God he was not the one involved everybody was fine nobody injured with the front-facing camera that they were able to show the trooper he turned around and cited the car for cutting off that vehicle the commercial motor vehicle so and they had a rear-facing camera it showed that the driver was seat belted he wasn't distracted he was doing what he's supposed to be doing he tried everything to avoid it but it still happened so I've heard that time and time again front facing and rear-facing believe it or not I'm all for it no it's almost it's good and here at freightworks we've got a strong as an asset based carrier a strong commitment obviously to safety and we we never forget that every driver most drivers you know got a family it's looking out the window to see when they're going to come home and we actually just entered into a relationship with a company called netrodyne so we're well underway in uh in some of the camera technology there let me ask you this question when when you look at young people today who may be wondering what you're going to do with their future and you know they look at the High Cost of colleges and universities and it's just not in them to go there what would you tell a group of young people if you were with them right now uh what would you say to them about considering driving as a career come to FedEx you you know what and I want to tell you this we are unabashed in letting people uh wax uh sweetly and kindly about their companies they're in and you're in a wonderful company why don't we take this opportunity talk a little bit about FedEx and what you like about its culture and and you just appreciate about it as an Enterprise you know I talked about moving food through a food service company that I worked for and uh man I was working crazy long hours driving down to New York and a friend told me about FedEx and at the time I was actually a disc jockey and I was actually DJing their Christmas parties and that's how I got introduced to the people that worked at FedEx and I loved every one of them just energetic young staff young people my age I've been there 29 years now my age all enjoying what they're doing for a living and I said you know what I like that Vibe and FedEx always has that Vibe where you want to work you want to work side by side with people like you and it was just it was a fit so as soon as I got there I just like I melded with everybody there it became family once again I used that word family Trucking family uh the FedEx family great people great philosophy at FedEx that safety above all has been there since the day I started and uh I proved that I had almost half a million miles when I went there and I still had to go for training and in the training I still learned yeah so their training is phenomenal the safety above all really sets the tone and I've never wanted to work anywhere else I mean I do love my job I really can say that Roland that really really comes uh comes through and of course every company we talked recently to a videographer uh who's distinguished and we were talking about the fact that so many companies don't really tell their story and that that's the commitment here at Life by the miles we want to tell the freightwork story and you know we have a a culture and commitments and certain distinctives and you know we're just a firm believer that we're all in this together and it's one of the reasons why we love having folks like you uh come on let me ask you one or two uh final questions here when you're uh when you're not driving uh the way that you drive with excellence and with safety what are some of the things that are important to you outside of your work well uh what I was just about to say is still brings up driving uh went to a truck Convoy this past Sunday you did well brought my grandchild with me for almost five years old his first time ever in a big truck and child seat strapped down in the passenger seat man he on the way there he I said you don't look happy he says I'm very sad I said why are you sad he goes I'm up very high I'm not used to this something but you know the fact that you as a grandpa as a Granddad can create that experience with him is is probably very moving and touching isn't it uh it was it was fantastic you know I told him hey we're going to go over the Connecticut River and he's watching he goes look at all the cars around me and I I wasn't thinking when he's in the back seat of a regular car you can't see he can't see what's going on and now being in this Fishbowl with a windshield in front of the windows on the sides had them all strapped down safe as could be believe me I wasn't moving unless he was safe and uh you know safety being in my life uh he really got used to it and when we were done before he fell asleep on the ride home which he most certainly did uh he said you know he calls me Pepe he says Pepe we're gonna do this again next year oh that is so good yes we will that that is that is that is a beautiful picture you know I can remember I tell people uh and I'm I'm a little older than you I can remember in our Ford white Ford Falcon Station Wagon our parents just tell no seat belts you know hard dashboards my parents said you know you you boys can go into back there and play and I used to look for the trucks behind us so I could go like this and have yeah and I just remember the excitement as a little boy of the big truck that was there and uh you know I I love to see it and you know I came into this position as the Director of communications at freightworks with no background none in trucking and Logistics and one of the greatest Adventures of my life Roland is to learn I love to learn and every guest like you provides just another example of is incredible supply chain machine that's the greatest of any country on the entire planet but bar none it certainly is and at this truck Convoy they had a little over 600 trucks year after year they cracked that number 600 trucks my friend developed this uh Keith Herzig he founded the wishes on Wheels Convoy for Make-A-Wish and he started it back in 1999. and I was right there by his side and uh when we finally said you know we need a board so he was President I was vice president and I did that for 13 years that's wonderful and when he stepped down I said my wife said you know time to give something a rest because I'm always involved with something uh and I said you know what I'll step down as well so I kind of moved away from the truck Convoy but now having a grandson and a granddaughter who's even younger I said you know that I've got to do this again just to see it through his eyes and I wired up the air horn so he can blow on the air horn and he had the microphone and everybody was being polite talking back to him it was fantastic his eyes would light up and such a great time such a great time it's the family again of Transportation that is such a wonderful and uh if I can say An Elegant way of describing what we take for granted people take for granted I tell people often that if America's truck drivers decided that they were all going to have a bad week the country would have a horrible next month or or quicker than that think of that one week of all the volume that we Haul would take months to catch back up right months right just one week so people are still trying to recover from the pandemic I'm not I went to work every single day so did I owe the truck drivers the transportation industry kept plugging along kept moving and uh you know it's we need to we honestly need to if like you said stop for a week you know FedEx moves four million packages a day think of that so how would you catch up four million packages exactly and I've Been Loved with FedEx some of the stories I don't know if they're apocryphal or anecdotal about Fred Smith and that there were people at Harvard that weren't sure that his idea was going to work yeah such an icon such an icon when you win the national truck driving championships you get to meet Mr Smith and I'll tell you what genuine oh my Lord genuine he is such a fantastic person to talk to and the first question is is how are you what questions do you have you know he wants to learn about you and the interesting thing is he doesn't forget a face he doesn't forget a conversation either he's fantastic great person to me great person to talk and you know what our country is filled with so many examples of of men and women who've started industry started Enterprises you know Michael Dell started Dell computer I think in his garage here in Austin Texas you just think of these these folks that had a dream a vision in in every case god-given abilities that they use folks uh this is Roland uh balduck he's a professional driver with FedEx Express he was named the bendex grand champion at the conclusion of the 85th National truck driving and step band driving championships he competed in best in a field of 408 drivers nearly 730 million combined accident-free miles you know I get inspired when I hear stories like this I have to tell you this too your description of your grandson and that first trip that he took in a big rig is one little day in my heart 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 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