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Tee-Roy Was Here

By on July 1, 2017
troy

Drive to Succeed Continues in New T680

Those who’ve met Troy Davidson (aka Tee-Roy) along his life’s journey wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s been an overachiever in almost everything he chooses to do.

In fact, many would tell you that his drive to succeed has also influenced them in positive ways. Early on, he was fascinated by appearances of the Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team at nearby Traverse City and Muskegon.

The native of Midland, Michigan grew up in a loving family environment that passed along an intergenerational work ethic and instilled a desire to make his mark in a competitive world. Young Troy learned to work hard on his grandfather’s farm that included two football-field-sized gardens for veggie production. Some were consumed by the family, some were sold and some were donated to needy families and soup kitchens. Troy and his younger sister, Holly, were given the opportunity to earn money for college by harvesting, washing and selling pumpkins each fall.

When his mother developed MS while he was still in high school, Troy helped care for her, worked two jobs, and helped his dad provide for the family. He served as president for a 1998 graduating class of 200. That fall, he joined the Navy on a delayed entry program, breezed through boot camp and graduated at the top of his Pensacola class in jet engine mechanics theory. Based on earning the first choice for assignment, he chose the Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego working on helicopters. One happened to be frequently used by a 3-Star Admiral.

Dream Job Fulfilled

With help from recommendations by superiors, his dedication and enthusiasm caught the eye of the Admiral, who was In charge of the entire Pacific West Coast. Based on previously overseeing the Florida Panhandle area, he in turn had connections to the top brass in charge of the Blue Angels headquartered in Pensacola. Troy’s superiors arranged a meeting with the Admiral to help him gather background information for preparing a letter of recommendation. Troy and the Admiral had a two and a half hour discussion aboard the USS Coronado at Point Loma. In addition to sizing up Troy’s qualifications, the Admiral provided extensive background on what it takes to become a Blue Angel.

Troy was accepted and went through an orientation that serves as a Blue Angels boot camp. Emphasis is placed on the history of the mission, the importance of adherence to the proven processes and procedures already in place, and the bonds of trust formed among the team members. Troy focused on jet engine mechanics and rose to the rank of E5. In addition to earning the Navy Good Conduct Medal twice, he also won the National Defense Medal, the Navy Achievement Medal and Junior Sailor of the Quarter.

After serving for two and a half years with the Blue Angels, he left the Navy during 2004 in search of his next challenge. Troy attended Pensacola State College and worked some odd jobs. A Blue Angel brother called to inform him that the Navy was hiring experienced mechanics at Whiting Field, a Naval Air Station about 30 minutes from Pensacola. Hired under a government contract, civilians were performing the same work he had done with the Blue Angels. He stayed nine years before another long-time friend introduced him to opportunities in commercial trucking.

A Fast Transition

Troy met with student liaison director Sherry Hart at Truck Driver Institute (TDI) in Milton, FL. He talked with TDI students and graduates to better understand the program and opportunities in trucking. In less than a month, friend, Jacob Gibson, and Troy completed driver training. He utilized his GI benefits to help defray the costs. Shortly after graduation, they signed on with Werner Enterprises in Atlanta, Georgia. Troy was promoted off of his trainer’s truck on November 2, 2015.

Not long after, Jacob and Troy began team driving. When Jacob moved to Indianapolis to drive a day cab, so he could spend more time with his family, Troy drove solo OTR. After his dad became ill, he moved to Ashley, IN, enabling him to spend more time in Michigan. When Troy’s dad made a quick recovery, he and Jacob team drove again for a short time. In October 2016, Werner asked Troy to become a driver-trainer, a position he gladly accepted. Since then, he has trained a new driver approximately every two months.

Troy was assigned to drive a black 2015 Kenworth T680 that he treated as if it were his own. His pride in the truck and his positive representation of Werner Enterprises were clear from the beginning. The truck was washed regularly, and when his travels took him to his home base in Pensacola, he invested $100 out of his own pocket to have his truck detailed. He even added some chrome pieces. One day, the fleet manager called to ask about a $100 detailing receipt that was mistakenly mixed in with his expenses. Troy acknowledged that he had the truck periodically detailed. Impressed with his commitment to company image, Werner chose to reimburse him.

Invitation to Omaha

Part of the motivation for keeping his truck looking sharp was the periodic visits Troy made to TDI Milton as a favor to Sherry Hart, not to mention promoting a driving career and Werner to the students. Sherry wanted to do a short promotional video with Troy. He researched what others were doing on YouTube and kicked it up several notches. The result is a 12-minute, 41-second video that covers all of the topics a military veteran needs to know about TDI, Werner and the Kenworth T680. You can view it at youtube.com/watch?v=Np5COPw6v64.

December 16, 2016 - Washington, DC, USA: Hiring Our Heroes Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award Presentation. Photo by Joshua Roberts / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

December 16, 2016 – Washington, DC, USA: Hiring Our Heroes Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award Presentation. Photo by Joshua Roberts / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce

 

Field recruiter Ron Hodge shared the video with the Werner Corporate staff in Omaha. Military recruiting team members Jim Morbach, Rick Buchholz and Lauren Woods wanted to know, who is this guy and why haven’t we met him? Troy was invited to Omaha, but wasn’t sure why or what he was supposed to be doing while there. What he learned came as a surprise. His fleet manager had nominated Troy for the first-ever Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence award sponsored by Kenworth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program and FASTPORT. While in Omaha, Troy even met Derek Leathers, Werner Enterprises’ President and CEO.

10 – 3 – Bingo
Troy learned that the award was launched to help create jobs for transitioning military veterans, and of course, to provide qualified rookie drivers for the trucking industry. Many veterans were nominated, and 600,000 online votes were cast to help determine the finalists. A committee comprised of representatives from trucking companies, driver schools and trade associations narrowed the field to 10 candidates, selected three finalists and chose the inaugural winner. Russell Hardy, an Army and Navy veteran from El Paso, TX and driver for Trimac Transportation, and Kevin Scott, an Army veteran from Gulfport, MS who drives for TMC, won cash prizes of $10,000 each as runners-up. Troy Davidson took home a 2016 Kenworth T680 Advantage valued at more than $150,000.

On December 16, 2016, the three finalists, their families and a host of government, industry and media dignitaries gathered in the Hall of Flags at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. While the truck was parked outside awaiting announcement of the winner, the crowd inside learned about the impressive credentials of the three finalists. When he won, Troy was overcome with emotion as he thanked his family, Werner and the award organizers.

In an emotionally charged acceptance, Troy said, “Any of the three finalists would make a deserving winner. This is a life-changing event. I feel very fortunate to have been selected. I’m overwhelmed and humbled. I just want to be a great troy3ambassador for FASTPORT, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hiring Our Heroes and Kenworth. I’m also going to continue exhibiting my pride and professionalism as an ambassador for Werner Enterprises. I’m ready to get the wheels rolling and make some money.”

New Owner-Operator

Troy’s new company, Hook N Book, LLC, has committed to being a dedicated owner-operator for Werner Enterprises. He’s excited to be running his own company, having more freedom to select his runs and scheduling more home time. He plans to continue being a trainer for Werner, and is volunteering to attend military job fairs, make appearances at Werner events and stopping by TDI schools. RoadKing recently interviewed Troy and caught up with him for photos on a gray spring day at the TDI school in Christiana, TN on I-24, just southeast of Nashville. The special commemorative wrap designed and produced in cooperation with Werner had just been applied weeks prior. The OPERATION: FREEDOM messaging honors the disabled and fallen in the U.S. Armed Forces Service Branches. Continuing his drive to succeed, Tee-Roy would like to add a second truck dedicated to Werner by the end of this year.

 

HOW CANDIDATES WERE NOMINATED

Kenworth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program and FASTPORT worked together to accept nominations for the next America’s top rookie military veteran who has made the transition from active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces to driving for a commercial fleet.

Under the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” recognition program, Kenworth is again providing a fully-loaded Kenworth T680 Advantage with a comfortable and spacious 76-inch sleeper, fuel-efficient PACCAR MX-13 455-hp engine, and Eaton® Fuller Advantage™ 10-speed automated transmission as the program’s top award. Nominations closed June 30.

To be eligible to win the second Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award, candidates had to meet all of the following criteria:

Military veteran or current or former member of the National Guard or Reserves

Graduate of a PTDI-certified, NAPFTDS or CVTA member driver training school, and a current CDL holder

Employed by any for-hire carrier or private fleet trucking company that has pledged to hire veterans through the Trucking Track Mentoring Program (www.truckingtrack.org)

First employed as a CDL driver trucking between January 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017

Legal resident of the continental United States

Drivers had to be nominated by their motor carrier or training organization by June 30. Full criteria and online nomination forms were available on the “Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence” website (www.transitiontrucking.org).

As with Troy, the top rookie will be determined by an expert panel of judges based on criteria in the contest rules, including availability of loads, on-time delivery, highway safety performance, customer relations, work record, military service record, and non-job related activities/community service.

The Hiring Our Heroes Program ran throughout the year, with hiring fairs at military bases, truck industry events, and at venues near military bases. The Kenworth T680 Advantage was on display at selected events to inform and inspire those looking at trucking as a possible career. For more information, visit the websites of FASTPORT (www.FASTPORT.com) and Hiring Our Heroes (www.uschamberfoundation.org/hiring-our-heroes).

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