Keeping Our Country Moving
Karen and Jay pay tribute to all the great truck drivers who do so very much to keep our country on the move.
Please click here to enjoy a fun clip from the iconic tune ‘Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead’ - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pafY6sZt0FE
In many ways, truckers are the ‘backbone of America.’ Keeping our stores stocked, food on our shelves and critical supplies delivered – day in and day out. A truth that all of us have realized at some level or another over the years – but became indelibly seared into the forefront of our national consciousness during the critical days of the recent pandemic. As such, we owe a great deal to the 3.5 million Americans who embrace a ‘life on the road’ and dedicate themselves to the demands of this unique job and lifestyle.
In fact, trucks and truck drivers are part of our daily lives in so many ways. For instance, earlier this week, I was driving on the highway when a school bus full of kids and a truck happened to pull up beside me. Naturally, the kids all gathered to one side and encouraged the truck driver to give them a honk of his horn. The truck driver did not disappoint, as his truck gave a great big ‘honk, honk’ to the kids’ excitement, so much so I could actually hear them cheering from inside my car! The moment brought a big smile to my face on what was otherwise a forgettable drive. As I reflected on the moment, I was struck by how often truck drivers go unrecognized for the duties they perform yet how vital they are to the economy and everyday life, and of course, to kids on a school bus.
It may be little known, but the trucking industry is responsible for moving more than 70 percent of all freight in the United States. This adds up to over 10 billion tons of freight annually! It includes everything from consumer goods and raw materials to fuel and agricultural products. It’s likely that the majority of what you buy during your weekly grocery run, at your favorite store or coffee shop for example has at one point gotten to you thanks to a truck driver. Not only that, in total, the trucking industry also employs over 7 million people. This includes drivers, mechanics, dispatchers, and administrative staff, making it one of the largest sectors of employment in the country.
As we all know, the pandemic caused incredible disruptions to our daily lives. It put stresses on almost every single part of our economy, from the healthcare industry to supply chains. However, it must be recognized that the ability to still have access to essential goods was almost single handedly thanks to the trucking industry, despite all the disruptions. The trucking industry worked to maintain supply chains and keep goods moving across the country by finding alternate routes in many cases and different modes of transportation, as well as implementing safety protocols to protect drivers and others involved in delivery processes. Most importantly though, truckers were essential to supporting healthcare workers, making sure medical supplies and equipment safely arrived in the locations hardest hit by the pandemic. Despite the difficult and rapidly changing circumstances, truckers still delivered.
In fact, more than eighty percent of communities across the United States are dependent on trucks for their medicine, food, raw materials, and other essentials. Without the constant behind the scenes work from truck drivers, that means the vast majority of us would not be able to go about our daily lives.
So, whether you’re driving on the highway or on main street, when you see a truck driver, give these behind-the-scenes heroes a little salute of gratitude! They are out there – day in, day out, in good weather and in bad. Here’s a big salute to all our great truck drivers who keep America moving!
Big Rig Drivers…Keepin’ America Rollin’!
In 1975, singer C.W. McCall’s song ‘Convoy’ was at the number one spot on the country and pop charts around the world. It was 98th on Rolling Stone’s ‘Top 100 Country Songs of All Time.’ The song is actually a story about a group of fictional truckers who call each other by their nicknames on their CB radios, which also helps to explain the particular load they are carrying. They start on the West Coast and drive east to protest the national 55 mph speed limit which had been imposed during the national energy crisis of the early 1970’s.
The widespread popularity of the song brought the trucking industry to the forefront of American culture. With this heightened awareness, the ‘lifestyle’ of the trucker also became more widely known – especially, the rigors and personal demands of the job itself. In general, truckers faced physical ailments mainly due to sitting for long periods of time, getting limited opportunities for exercise and many challenges in their nutritional options. At the same, long periods away from home, extended hours without adequate rest and more. Since that time, thankfully, the long-haul trucking industry has undergone significant changes in a number of areas.
Truck Comfort: Trucks now come equipped with air conditioning, power steering, and ergonomic seats to make long hours on the road more comfortable for drivers. Additionally, advancements in technology have led to the development of in-cab entertainment systems, GPS navigation, and other amenities that help drivers stay connected and entertained while on the road.
Women Drivers: In the past, long-haul trucking was seen as a male-dominated industry. However, over the years, the number of women drivers has steadily increased and they are certainly making a statement. Trucker Eva Knelsen is proud to drive her bright pink semi, which was painted to bring awareness to breast cancer. Her integration into the trucking industry was rough, but she is seeing more women getting into it as a viable career option with competitive pay, job security, and the opportunity to travel.
Environmental Concerns: In recent years, the trucking industry has become more environmentally conscious. Truck manufacturers have introduced more fuel-efficient engines, and carriers have implemented fuel-saving technologies such as aerodynamic devices and tire pressure monitoring systems. Additionally, some companies are exploring the use of alternative fuels, such as electric or hydrogen-powered trucks, to reduce their carbon footprint.
These changes have helped to make the industry safer, more efficient, and more appealing to a wider range of people. And a special thanks to all those big rig drivers who help keep America rollin’!
The American Truck Stop – Unique and Evolving
For those who haven’t had the chance to load up the car and hit the open road, I strongly encourage you to do so as it’s one of the best ways to experience this great country of ours. When I think of all the places I've visited with my family, I also think of the places I have stopped to rest, get a coffee, perhaps some gas and find a restroom, and not surprisingly, many of them are truck stops. Now you might have a longheld view of truck stops as dingy, rough rider kinds of places but the history and evolution of the American truck stop is both fun and quite inspiring!
Interestingly, in a sense, the truck stop’s origins date back to the pony express and stagecoach era. Riders on horseback making deliveries across the west needed a place to rest, check their horses and coaches, and then get back on the road to their final destinations. Fast forward nearly a century, and the country saw the creation of the interstate highway system under President Eisenhower in the 1950’s. Not surprisingly, the expansion of the highway system created the opportunity for explosive growth in the trucking industry. And, with more trucks on the road, traversing the country, the need for truckers to find safe, dependable places to refuel, rest and refresh also exploded. Thus, the creation of the official truck stop or travel center as many know it came to be.
It is generally believed that the first true truck stop opened in 1948 in Nebraska. The location offered home cooked meals and a place for truckers to refuel their vehicles. Granted this was four years before the Eisenhower transportation infrastructure boom, but it “paved” the way for opportunity.
In 1972, the first truck stop chain was opened by Travel America and is now known as Travel Centers of America. What was once a company of just six locations has become a $6 billion dollar company with over 240 locations across 44 states across the country. And there are today many smaller, more regional chains dotting the landscape as well as a number of independently operated one and two truck stop locations as well. And, each truck stop – chain operated or not – tends to have its own unique personality.
Now, as I mentioned above, some people carry with them the old stereotype mental picture of what a truck stop must be like. Scary, dingy, impersonal, roughshod stops in the middle of nowhere. In fact, the reality – especially today – is quite different. Truck stops have become some of the coolest places in our country. Full-service, highly modernized locations that can actually be both fun and quite efficient. For example, the world's largest truck stop is in Iowa and features a movie theater, barber, dentist, multiple restaurants, 24-hour service for transportation vehicles, chiropractor, and a laundromat - all on a 225 acre parcel. Some of the best food I've had is at truck stops and I have many friends who agree.
So, when next you find yourself motoring down the highway and it’s just about that time to make a needed stop, just take an extra moment and see if there might be a truck stop within range. Take the time go inside, explore all that it has to offer and get treated to a true slice of America. You’ll be glad you did.
Positive Profile of the Week: Vikram Mansharamani
This week we are delighted to profile a great friend and leader in New Hampshire and beyond - Vikram Mansharamani.
Many people in the Granite State first came to know Vikram – or ‘Vik’ – as he is often called, during our most recent political season when he ran a spirited and very impressive campaign as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Offering himself as a ‘Businessman, Not A Politician.’
As the tagline suggests, and not surprisingly, Vikram’s range of accomplishments and influence go well beyond his recent efforts as a political candidate in the 2022 election cycle and are rooted in a highly successful career that spans multiple disciplines.
Vikram is a renowned economist, author, and global trend-watcher whose contributions to society are characterized by his knowledge-sharing, support for entrepreneurs, and guidance on job creation and growth. His lectures at such leading universities as Harvard and Yale, as well as other institutions, have inspired countless students to pursue careers in finance and economics and have a positive impact on the world.
In addition, his two books, "Think for Yourself: Restoring Common Sense in an Age of Experts and Artificial Intelligence," and "Boombustology: Spotting Financial Bubbles Before They Burst," are highly acclaimed and provide essential insights into complex financial issues. No two ways about it - they are both ‘must reads!’ His observations and advice on financial bubbles are particularly interesting – explaining both how to identify bubbles and how to prevent them from bursting. Vikram also has extensive experience as a consultant to a wide range of organizations, including endowments, foundations, sovereign wealth funds, and family offices.
Beyond lecturing, writing and his extensive experience as a consultant, Vikram has also served on numerous boards, including among others, Werner Enterprises and the Africa Opportunity Fund. His writings have been featured in such leading publications as Bloomberg, Fortune, and Forbes.
And, in keeping with the theme of this week’s Sunshine Report – ‘Trucking Across America,’ it’s important to note that Vikram actually has truck driving experience and credentials of his own. While Vikram is a graduate of Yale and MIT, importantly, he is also a graduate of Roadmaster Driving School. He earned his commercial license while sitting on the board of a trucking company. I love the spirit and insight as he later once explained "How can you understand the pressures on a trucking company if you don't spend time with truckers?"
Vik is definitely an independent thinker – not afraid to ‘challenge conventional wisdom.’ He is also a very good listener – which is such a rare and admirable trait these days. He emphasizes the need to restore common sense in an era dominated by experts and artificial intelligence. He urges individuals to think critically and on their own, warning against the dangers of blindly following the advice of so-called ‘experts’ without considering the potential consequences.
Most important, in addition to these many accomplishments, Vikram is simply a good person. Vik is the kind of person we are so fortunate to have here in our state. A devoted husband and father, Vikram, along with his wife, Kristen and their two children, Tori and Kai, live in the beautiful community of Lincoln. We are grateful to the Mansharamani’s for their positive impact in so very many ways. Thank you, Vikram, Kristen, and family!
Quotes of the Week: Trucking in America
"Truckers are the unsung heroes of the American economy. They work long hours and travel thousands of miles to make sure our stores are stocked and our factories are supplied. Without them, our way of life would grind to a halt." - Dan Lipinski, former U.S. Representative from Illinois.
"Without trucks, America stops. They're the lifeblood of our economy, and the men and women behind the wheel are the unsung heroes of our nation." - Bill Graves, former President and CEO of the American Trucking Associations.
"Truck drivers are the backbone of our economy. They keep America moving forward." - Senator Deb Fischer, U.S. Senator from Nebraska.
"Truck drivers are essential to keeping America's economy moving. They transport goods across the country, ensuring that consumers have access to the products they need. Their hard work and dedication to their craft is truly admirable." - Jim Risch, U.S. Senator from Idaho.
"Truck drivers are vital to our nation's infrastructure and play an important role in our economy. They are the backbone of our supply chain and without them, the flow of goods across our country would come to a standstill." - Rodney Davis, U.S. Representative from Illinois.