BAY CITY, MICHIGAN – April 16, 2019. This month I sat down with Company Driver, Keith H. when he stopped at the Bay City office in between assignments. Keith has been with us for a little over seven years, but he’s been driving for about 30 years. Keith is one of our local drivers, but don’t be surprised if you see him driving in Canada as well. Keith and his family live in Reese, MI on land that’s been owned by his family, who were in the farming industry, for years.
Company Driver, Keith H.
Tell me about your first job ever, and how old were you?
“My family had a farm when I was a kid. I worked for my dad. I started helping with the sugar beet crop when I was 13 years old,” he said. “At age 14 I earned my farm license, so I was able to drive a semi locally in the area, mostly to other farms. Then when I was 18, I moved to Florida after graduating from high school and I managed a bar for about two to three years.”
The GMC truck Keith drove as a teenager for the family and neighboring farms.
How did you find your way back to Michigan?
“At age 21, I bought a truck and started working as an owner operator. I hauled everything from gravel to airplane motors!” said Keith. “I did that for about five years and then I went back to farming. I farmed until about 13 years ago.”
The truck that Keith's dad drove when he worked for the Short family in the 1970's.
Did you help work the family farm?
“Yes, my family and I live in Reese, MI on the same land that I grew up on. My house, my grandpa’s house, and my sister’s house are all close together.”
That’s great living so close to your family. How did you find out about Go-To Transport?
“My dad had a truck with the Short family back in the 1970’s, so I applied and got a job here,” he said, “I also helped my friend from a previous job, Al, get a job here. We stayed in contact with each other over the years. We’re close buddies to this day! Also, my sister, Kris, worked here for a time as well.”
Some of my best friendships I have made through work so I can understand that dynamic.
What’s a typical week like here for you?
“During the week it’s all about the job, Monday through Friday,” he starts. “I am up really early around 430am or 5am and I work until pretty late. Well, as much as my clock allows!” he laughs. “Then I drive home, make dinner, go to bed, and start over again until the weekend. I keep my weekends open for my family.”
Keith continues, “Sometimes if I have a Canada run, I may be out longer, but I’m usually home every night. Some drivers think that a local job is a piece of cake, but you still have to work hard and sometimes stay out an evening. That’s just the job.”
How do you balance work and home?
“For me, work is first. I’ve worked my entire life and I like what I do. This is the company that I can see myself retiring from,” said Keith. “My kids are young adults, so I don’t have to be home as much. When they were younger and had practices and sporting events and practices, I was present for most of them. Go-To was great about that. Now that my kids are in college, I don’t have to be home for those things as much.”
Keith pauses for a moment, “My driver manager, Tyler, is great and we have good communication between us,” he said. “I try never say no to work. I was able to be with my family years ago, so I don’t mind working during the holidays now when other drivers want to be home.”
I think that’s great that you do that. Kids are only young for so long! Tell me about your family.
“I have two kids. Abby is 20 years old and in college to become a social worker in the medical field. She attends Delta College right now and plans to transfer to Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU). Tyler is my son and he’s 21 years old. He attends SVSU and he plays football for them on scholarship. He is in school to become a special education teacher. He is really great with kids,” Keith said. “I am also engaged to Pennie. She works for the postal service. We’ve been together for about four years.”.
(L-R) Tyler, Keith, and Abby.
What do you do in your free time?
“I recently bought some land up on Mack Lake which is in the Mio and Rose City area,” he says. “I’m building a home on the property so that’s where I have been spending a lot of my weekends. It’s right on the lake.” He grabbed his phone and showed me a few photos.
A view from Keith's property on Mack Lake. Amazing!
Oh wow, Keith. That’s a wonderful view. It looks so peaceful!
“It is! There will be a dock going out into the lake for a pontoon. I’m building a simple cabin, but the bread and butter will be the kitchen. That will be my space.”
Do you like to cook?
“I love to make breakfast,” he said with a grin. “When my kids were little and they had friends stay over at the house, all of them liked it when I’d get in the kitchen and make them breakfast.”
What’s your passion in life?
“My kids, definitely my kids,” he says thoughtfully. “When I speak with them, I always tell them that I love them, and when I see them, I’m always sure to hug them. To me that’s so important.”
Who is your hero?
Keith thinks for a moment, “My dad,” he starts. “He worked hard his whole life. He did things his way, and he did so much for us. He retired at the age of 55 after working almost his entire life at that point. I learned what was right and wrong from him.”
Keith continued, “Another hero of mine is my best buddy, Al. You can quote me on this word-for-word, ‘That S.O.B. knows everything!” he says with a laugh. “But seriously, I talk to Al every day and I always learn something from him. I don’t know how he does it. We have been great friends for a long time, and I owe a lot to him and his wife. When my wife, Tracey, was sick, Al’s wife Brenda, or ‘Peg’ as we call her, was there with her every day.”
What’s the best advice you have received?
“I don’t know if this is advice, but speaking of my dad, after I wrecked my first car my dad told me, ‘Metal can always be replaced, but I can’t replace you.’ Lo and behold when my daughter was in an accident and wrecked her first car, what came out of my mouth? The same thing!”
Clearly that stuck with you!
“Another piece of advice I received was to never give up,” he said. “I try to live by that.”
Do you have a personal motto that you like to live by?
“It will all come out in the wash!” he said with a laugh.
That’s very true! We all experience ups and downs, but in the end, everything will be fine. Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me and chat, Keith!