Richard Bearre: Western Express Inc.
July 1, 2011
Richard Bearre earned a culinary arts degree and worked for 25 years as a chef. I talked to him when he was in the Western Express Birmingham, Alabama service center. For the past 19 years, he has been a truck driver, the last six with Western Express.
Changing careers was a good alternative for Richard, the physical demands of working as a chef led him to attend driving school in Nashville nearly two decades ago. He has found a home at the Western Express Truckload Van division.
Several things about Western have made Richard find a home there instead of earlier companies he drove for. For one, he likes Western’s equipment and the way they fix any problems. “If you’ve got a problem with your equipment, it gets fixed—I’ve worked for other companies that just blow you off.” Richard also pointed out that some equipment problems discovered in roadside inspections can come down on the driver under CSA.
Richard also likes Western’s electronic log system. “I’ve stuck around so long because they keep you rolling—but I like the electronic logging system because again, hours and logging violations also come down on the driver now. I’ve worked for companies that didn’t have as much freight, but when they did have the freight, hours of service were not given priority. The line was ‘driver, haul the freight or get another job.’” Aside from regulatory restrictions, Richard, after 40 years of working, advises other drivers that “it’s just not safe to push your body—the hours and work are long enough legally—you need to get your rest.”
One of the more satisfying aspects of Richards’s career, cooking or driving, has been his work as a driver trainer with Western—and it’s not the money he makes doing it. Richard has trained many drivers who have come from a profession where there was not the opportunity to make much money. “I’ve trained drivers who have come from being a dishwasher or a landscaping helper and after the training and awhile on the job, the driver will get back in touch with me. They’ll say they were just able to put a down payment on a house for the first time, or their kids now have good school clothes or they were able to get their wife a good car—and it is very satisfying to have helped someone achieve that.”
Anthony Bourdain is the famous chef from television and author of several books. Richard has read them all and says he’s one of the few celebrity chefs that portray the hard work involved in being a chef. Like Bourdain showing that being a chef is not sprinkling a pinch of spice on a meal and kissing your fingertips, Richard is quick to point out that driving a commercial vehicle over the road is not like taking a vacation drive to see the sights. “It can be a tough life, but if you apply yourself and find a good company, you can make some good money.”
Richard has noticed that it seems drivers are not treated as well as they once were. “I’ve delivered freight to major corporations and had to wait for a few hours and been told they have no bathroom for drivers. That didn’t used to happen. Sure, drivers need to do their part, my truck is my home a good part of my month and I clean it every day and keep neat.”
Richard contrasted the attitude of some receivers with his employer. “I am very loyal to Western because they have been very loyal to me. They’ve stood by me when I had an issue or problem to take care of outside of work and I hope to be with them a long time.
Western Express, Inc. is a truckload carrier, founded in 1991 by Donna and Wayne Wise. In the last 20 years the company has grown to become a large tier industry truckload carrier with 2009 annual revenue in excess of $439 million. This success has been achieved through a combination of internal growth and strategic acquisitions.
Their offerings include Truckload Van, Dedicated Fleet, Flatbed Transportation, Logistics and Expedited Truck/Rail. They are fully EDI capable and offer web based viewing and retrieval of invoices and proof of delivery documentation.
Western Express, Inc. owns and operates approximately 2600 power units and in excess of 6700 trailers. 100% of their power units are satellite tracked.
For more information or questions about a career at Western Express, please call 1-888-771-3569.