John McDonald - Heartland Express, Inc.
John McDonald is a professional driver with a deep understanding of the trucking industry. It’s no wonder, because John has been at it since 1972 when he first got his career rolling.
“I was born on the passenger seat of a truck, and I’ve always felt at home there,” John says with a laugh. “I started out driving locally between Paterson, NJ and Newark, but soon I was running over the road. I chose the handle ‘Irish Rebel’ early on, and that is how most folks know me out on the highway.”
Over the decades that followed, John hauled a wide variety of dry van, tanker and refrigerated freight, and he sharpened his skills along the way. In 1985 John married Lynn, a woman who would provide him with invaluable love and support through the years. “Lynn has been absolutely fantastic, and I couldn’t have succeeded without her,” John says proudly. “She has held everything together at our home in Peoria, AZ…the bills, the household, everything. Oh sure, I took a few jobs driving locally so that I could be home every day, but they just didn’t pay. I’m just glad that Lynn has understood that success in my work means days and nights away from home.”
Earlier this year, a friend of John’s who worked at Coralville, IA-based Heartland Express began talking about the great driver program there. John was interested, but he had learned through hard experience that many trucking companies don’t live up to their promises.
“I sat down with Mark Crouse, the terminal manager at the new Phoenix location, about their Western Region program, to see if the terrific buzz I’d heard was true,” says John. “He explained that I wouldn’t have to run all 48 states to earn great money…that I could do most of my driving in the southern California area that I know and love. It sounded so good that I even called Mark back just to make sure that I heard everything correctly.”
Convinced that Heartland was the company for him, John signed on, and he has no regrets about his decision. “At other companies, if you run into mechanical trouble after normal work hours, you’re on your own,” he explains. “Several weeks ago, when I found myself with a flat tire just before midnight, my call into the shop was answered immediately, and help arrived within an hour. There’s a level of professionalism at Heartland that I just haven’t seen anywhere else.”
So how has trucking changed over the years? “It’s much more of a jungle out there these days, and you really have to watch out for the other guy out on the road,” says John. “Of course, the equipment is a lot nicer now. Back when I was driving those old cabovers, you’d have to pull off the shifter boot to feel any heat!”
John gets home early on Saturday mornings and he’s back out on the road on Monday morning. While at home, he enjoys relaxing with Lynn, watching his daughter’s volleyball games and tackling his honey-do list.
The staff of Over the Road and Pro Trucker magazines would like to wish John continued success with Heartland Express, Inc. For more information on company driver opportunities available now at Heartland, see their ad on the inside back cover of this issue.