“Yes, I am a truck driver and, yes, I am a mover,” says Chuck Racine, an owner-operator who's worked for The Paxton Companies in Springfield, VA, for 34 years. “But being good at both and taking pride in the work is the foundation of my success.”

Racine points out it takes more than knowing how to shift gears and change lanes to make a career out of driving a truck — especially in the moving business, where drivers are expected to load and unload everything from furniture to office equipment as well as pilot their rigs all over the country.

First and foremost, he believes drivers need good people skills — not only to help them interact with customers but with fellow employees and peers as well. “You need to be able to put people at ease and you do that by letting them you know you are a professional in many different ways: You and your truck are clean and presentable, you act happy to be there doing your job, and you are on time.” He adds that having good business sense is key, too, noting that “as the cost of fuel and equipment rises, every little penny counts.”

Racine recounts that he started working at Paxton first as part of a moving crew and then as a local driver while attending college locally in Northern Virginia. “I took business classes in college and that knowledge definitely helped me, but so did learning from the experience of other drivers who worked for the company,” he relates.

From where he is now, Racine says it's clear drivers need to foster a willingness to keep learning during all phases of their career — not just at the start — and to share knowledge gained.

Not surprisingly, he thinks fleets should mentor and support their drivers over their careers, helping them improve their skills and stay in business.

Mack MacReath, our dispatcher when I started out, would pay us a full day's wages to come down to the warehouse on a Saturday and practice backing a trailer up around the building and parking it — all day long,” Racine recalls. “He was our guru when I started out, making sure we learned everything about our trucks.”