A couple of the best!
The industry received a couple of serious blow this past couple months with the passing of two great folks and I thought I would share my brief experience with each of them. I had the great honor of meeting one of the industry icons some dozen years ago at a TCA Board of Directors meeting in Chicago. I still recall the introduction vividly I was a new TCA (Truckload Carriers Association) board member at the time when one of the staff walked up to me just prior to the meeting and asked if I would like to meet Don Schneider. I was shocked for a few reasons not the least of it the rather casual way I was asked (wouldn’t I need an appointment and a purpose, agenda etc) but also the fact that he was attending the meeting, I knew he was a past Chairman of the TCA (1979-80) but I hadn’t seen him at prior TCA events. My third revelation came as I stumbled through a few words trying not to appear totally star struck in front of him because I quickly realized that I was in the presence of a true gentleman.
Those of who have experienced the sensation will know what I mean, it has happened to me a few times with different people I have met where you instantly know that the person you are standing in front of is special, and they have that aura about them. Just to clarify I am not nor have ever been a celebrity hound or hero worshipper, quite the contrary it has always confused me who folks choose to idolize and place on pedestals, to my way of looking at the world usually all the wrong folks are given star status by the masses and the true heroes typically go unnoticed. Want to learn about some real heroes go here http://truckload.org/Highway-Angel now these are heroes!
I had about a ten minute conversation with Mr. Schneider just he and I and he was as gracious and classy a person as I have ever met. This past January we lost Mr. Schneider In reading some of the many epitaphs it was no surprise to read that although his Dad started the company, he had to earn his way up the ranks through the shop and as a driver while he went through school and attained his education, then and only then was he allowed to come into the office. He earned what he had, you could tell and you also knew he cared about the industry and folks around him. What he did from there is well known leading Schneider National on to become the largest carrier in North America.
What is not so well known was Mr. Schneider’s industry contributions and too numerous to list charitable contributions. I like many of you drivers have not been a huge Big Orange fan having had to bid against them from time to time of freight lanes and it’s easy to poke the big dog for some reason. That was my one and only meeting with Mr. Schneider but having the opportunity to meet the man behind this company is a memory I will always cherish.
This past December we lost Mr. Pat Quinn, I have a special place in my heart for Pat Quinn for number of reasons. Pat was of course Co-Chairman and co-founder of US Express out of Chattanooga TN North Americas third largest truckload carrier. Pat was also the individual who called me at my office some 8-9 years ago and asked me if I would consider stepping up from being a Board member of TCA into the role of Officer. Again I remember this vividly for a few reasons, one I recall was when our receptionist told me that Mr. Pat Quinn was on hold for me which was a serious rush at the time, secondly it was an amazing honor for me to be asked to enter the Officers ranks by Pat and I remember him telling me that the invitation comes with a caveat, which is that I must be prepared to assume the role of Truckload Carriers Association Chairmen if called upon.
I gotta tell you folks that scared the stuffing out of me, talk about the hair standing up on the back of your neck, this was a game changer for me. I always like playing it under the radar and this was on the other end of the scale this was profile and exposure. Pat asked me to think it over and of course I decided that it was just too big an opportunity for me and the company to pass up. What Pat didn’t know he was doing was that he also recruited two others who in short order would become a couple of my closest allies and lifelong friends, Mr John Kaburick Past TCA Chairman 2010 -11 and President of Earl Henderson Trucking and Mr. Kevin Burch Past TCA Chairman 2009 -10 and President of Jet Express.
We each took our turns a Chairman of TCA in order and each have thanked Pat many times for putting us together, Pat saw something in each of us and I will eternally grateful for his confidence in me to make that call because it changed my life.
Pat was a selfless promoter of the industry with what seemed like boundless energy, playing one leadership role after another Chairman TCA, Chairman ATA, Chairman Tennessee Trucking Association to name but a few of his roles.
There will be a big void at all the events of these Association events for the foreseeable future as Pat was usually in attendance, always approachable and could always be sought out when the voice of reason and a common sense solution was needed. I along with anyone who was fortunate enough too have been able to meet Mr. Pat Quinn will miss his generous nature and down to earth ways.
These were a couple of our best folks and I know it sounds cliché, but they don’t make um like that anymore!
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Great stories, Ray! I haven’t met either one of them, but their legacies will live on forever.