Five-year plan

For Harry S. Kinnard, driving is a “habit you get into if you stay out on the road long enough.”

Kinnard says it happens like this: The first year on the road is exciting, despite the workload. The second year is still exciting, but you realize just how much work is involved. The third year is okay, you're getting used to it. The fourth year, truck driving is getting to be a habit. And the fifth year, it is a habit.

After that, he says, driving is a job. “You are just putting on your pants and going to work every day. Except your office weighs 80,000 lb. and goes 60 mph on the highway.”

Kinnard also sees driving as a job that takes a lot of skill. He should know. He's been accident-free for all 28 years of his career. That degree of skill — and dedication — is appreciated by his employer, U.S. Trucking. The Nashville-based steel hauler assigns a new truck, replete with the driver's name in gold lettering, each time a driver reaches a 10-year employment anniversary with the company.

Seeing the upside

“Conditions such as depressed freight rates, rising insurance costs, tighter credit and a glut of used trucks on the market have had a serious impact on sales volumes in the past year. We expect these conditions to dominate the market for at least the next 18 months, followed by a gradual turnaround. Tough times like these are no stranger to us, however. This is, by nature, a cyclical industry. We're confident that we have what it takes to come out of this downturn stronger than ever.”
Tom Gosnell, president-Commercial Vehicle Systems, ArvinMeritor Inc., at a news conference during the recent Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

Talk about candlepower

Grote Industries Inc., a leading supplier of lighting products to the trucking industry, is blowing out 100 candles on its birthday cake this year.

“By constantly innovating and developing new technology to meet the changing needs of our customers, we've succeeded as a family-owned and -operated company for 100 years,” says president & CEO William “Bill” Grote III, grandson of company founder William D. Grote.

Grote points out he is proud not only of the firm's longevity but of its “century of innovation.” Among other claims to fame, the company pioneered plastic injection molding beginning in the 1920s, introduced the first repairable long-life lamps for trucks in 1977, and brought LED lighting to trucking in 1990.

To celebrate its centennial, Grote is running a number of special promotions for customers starting this summer. Visit www.grote.com or phone 800-457-9540.

Coming attraction

The newly formed Super Truck Racing Assn. of North America (STRANA) plans to bring European-style big rig racing to this side of the pond next year. No race dates or venues have been announced yet, but ZF Group, a major sponsor of Europe's Grand Prix truck series (pictured), has already signed on as title sponsor of the Class 8 “ZF Championship Racing Series.” According to ZF North America marketing communications manager Wolfgang Schmid, the German component maker views sanctioned truck racing as a way “to bring some fresh air into this industry” to excite drivers and others in trucking as well as motor sport fans. By the way, STRANA is getting its message across with this very apt tag line: “As big as racing gets.” Check it out at www.zf-group.com.