BAY CITY, MICHIGAN – May 15, 2019. Back in April, I spoke with Keith, one of our Company Drivers at Go-To Transport. He spoke highly of fellow driver and good friend, Al. Of course, I had to connect with Al for this month’s “In the Driver’s Seat.” It was great meeting Al face-to-face and we had a nice conversation!
Company Driver, Al M.
Hi, Al! Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. Tell me about your first job ever.
“I got my start working on the family farm in Munger, MI,” Al said. “We were potato farmers and when I was about 6 or 7, I started by picking potatoes. I did that all through high school.”
What did you do after high school?
“It wasn’t in trucking! I worked at a local box company and our job was to take beer bottles in old boxes and put them into new boxes to be shipped to a local brewery.”
Was that the only job that you had that wasn’t in trucking?
So how did you get started in trucking?
“I started on the farm, of course, and I was 14 years old,” said Al. “I had my permit and drove a truck going from farm to farm around Munger and the township. Funny story about the first time I drove a long distance, my older brother told my dad that he couldn’t take a load of potatoes to Ohio because he was sick. My dad said to me, ‘Al, you’re going.’ My dad wasn’t very good at loading a truck and it was around 91,000 lbs which is 11,000 lbs overweight. It was a tough ride!”
I guess when the job needed to get done, your dad found a way! When did you leave farming?
“In the 1980’s, I worked as an owner operator for a trucking company in Bay City,” Al started, “I was 19. I had my Dad’s 1971 GMC Astro truck. It didn’t have any heat or A/C!”
Wow, given the nice trucks that you guys drive nowadays, that sounds awful!
Al laughs, “The engine kept you warm!” He continues, “Since I was 19, I couldn’t go across state lines, but I went anyway and I was caught, but I was only caught once!”
(L-R) Al’s second truck as an Owner Operator, a 1982 International, and the day cab that Al drives at Go-To Transport today.
I remember from my conversation with Keith that you found out about Go-To Transport from him, right?
“Yup, he had a job here and helped bring me on. He was here six months before I was. I started in September 2012,” Al paused for a moment, “I wasn’t sure about signing on at first because Go-To pays on percentage, but after I did the numbers, it came out to be about the same. I’ve been here ever since.”
(L-R) Al and Keith years ago.
What types of runs do you do here with us?
“I’ve mostly always done local. Before I was at Go-To, I did over-the-road. Been there, done that! Now I mostly run in the state of Michigan with occasional runs to Ohio and Indiana, and I go to Canada as well.”
Tell me what a typical work week is like for you.
“Depending on where I’m going, I am up and around anywhere from 5am to 7am in the mornings, Monday through Friday,” Al said. “I do my work and then I’m usually home 12-14 hours later. I don’t live far from the Saginaw yard, so it doesn’t take me long to make it home.”
What do you like best about working here?
“I like that I usually get home each night,” he said, “Since I have started at Go-To, I haven’t worked on a Sunday.”
That’s great that you can count on having a certain day off each week. What do you like to do in your free time?
“In the summer we’ll go camping. We have a fifth-wheel and we jump around to a few different campsites. On Sundays we’ll go to church, and I used to golf more, but if I get the chance I’ll go.”
How do you balance your work life with your personal life?
Al sighed and smiled, “I give all of the credit to my wife, Brenda,” he said. “She’s a huge help. She does a lot for others and she’s great at it. She’s always doing something and helping other people.”
Brenda and Al.
When I spoke to Keith, he mentioned that she’s an amazing person. Tell me about the rest of your family.
“Brenda and I have two daughters. Nicole is 29 and lives with us, and Ashley is 28 and lives in Mason, MI.”
(Clockwise from the top) Al, Nicole, Al’s mother-in-law Jackie, Ashley, and Brenda.
Do you have any pets?
“We do!” said Al. “We have a cat named Daisy. She’s a rescue, about 5 or 6 years old, orange and white. When we got her, she didn’t want anything to do with me and now she’s right up in my lap when I sit in the chair. Also our daughter has a dog who lives with us.”
What’s your passion?
“I’m passionate about my family. I worry about them the most, though I don’t always show it,” said Al.
(L-R) Nicole, Brenda, Al, and Ashley at Nativity Lutheran Church's pig roast.
Family is everything, that’s for sure. Who is your hero?
Al thought for a moment, “I have a few,” he said. “My dad. He worked hard all of his life. He mostly farmed, but when farming was bad, he worked as a welder, then back to farming, then he drove a cement truck. My other hero is my wife. She has the gift of caring for people. It doesn’t matter if she knows you or not. If you need something, she’ll be there. She’s helped family, friends, and neighbors. And of course, my buddy Keith. That guy will give you the shirt off his back.”
Your family relationships and friendships sound pretty amazing. What is the best advice you have ever received?
“If I didn’t know how to do something, my dad would always say, ‘You’re not going to learn any younger,’” he recalled with a smile.
Dads are always giving great advice like that! Solve your problem and get on with it.
This has been a good chat, Al. Thanks for taking the time out of your day to sit down with me!