From Biologist to Family to Professional Truck Driver
Brian Flood is from Clinton, TN and has been driving for Skyline Transportation for a few weeks now. This summer, he completed Skyline’s CDL Training program and grad program and was given keys to his truck on August 24. Brian is a new professional truck driver for Skyline. He talked with us about his journey into this new career and how he plans to keep his family close.
Immediately out of high school, Brian knew he wanted to be a wildlife biologist.
“In 1999, I obtained my AA degree in Environmental Health and Safety from Roane State Community College. When I tried to pursue my bachelors, there was a course that nullified my efforts: Calculus.”
A career as a professional driver was never on Brian’s radar, but coincidentally, he has held several jobs relating to transportation.
“I worked for the City of Knoxville in their Hazardous Waste Department for four years. I was responsible for the manifests and getting shipping material on the trucks. I guess you could say that was my first orientation with logistics and HazMat.”
Then he worked for a company loading trucks, allowing him to see a different side of shipping. Eventually a colleague told him about professional truck driving.
“I was evaluating my options and felt that I was topping out and facing limited advancement in my career path. That’s when a coworker, who had her CDL and had just come off the road, suggested driving. I heard Skyline’s radio ad for their training program and started doing some research.”
Brian talked to three friends who had driven, or were driving, to learn more about it.
“They knew me well enough to know my personality. I wanted their opinion if they thought it would be a good fit for me, and they all recommended driving.”
Brian also started researching the industry and was drawn to the stability and opportunity for development that it offers. He entered Skyline’s CDL program on June 12 and departed on his first solo flight on Monday, August 28.
What is the most difficult thing about driving?
“It’s challenging at times. You need to adopt the right mindset to be able to back and maneuver into different positions.”
What did you like best about Skyline’s training program?
“Everyone offered great support and helped me build a good foundation, but I really enjoyed going through the program with fellow trainees. There were four of us and we were all there for each other – keeping each other’s spirits up, not letting anyone get too frustrated, encouraging each other to keep it up when we wanted to walk away.”
So creating a camaraderie with the team proved beneficial?
“Yes, having built those relationships actually helped me mentally gear up to go on the road. I know I have three people who have experienced the same challenges and achievements as I have. It’s helpful to know there are people in the exact same shoes as you are.”
What is important to you as a professional driver?
“Making sure I do a good job for myself but also reflecting well for Skyline and the people who trained me. Doing everything I’m supposed to do to be safe. Also providing a good life for my kids. Throughout my life, there were times when I was laid-off and my parents were able to help me get through. I want to be able to do the same thing for my kids and driving provides that financial stability.”
What motivates you to do a good job?
“While monetary rewards are always nice, I prefer being told that I did a good job. To me, that personal recognition by a peer or supervisor that I’m doing what I’m supposed to do goes a long way.”
What do you foresee being the most challenging part of over the road driving?
“Family. I’ve been married for 14 years and in 2006 we adopted two children. So yes, being away from them is going to be hard.”
Congratulations. How old are you kids?
“Right now our daughter is 14 and our son is 12. But I’ve let them know that even though I may be on the road, your dad has a lot of friends and I will get a phone call.”
So you have spies in the field?
“I have this close group of friends and when we were 19 years old, we made a pact that when our kids got older, we would be eyes and ears and look out for each other. I’ve told my kids that they’ve met some of my friends, but they haven’t met them all. If my kids are somewhere they are not supposed to be, they shouldn’t be surprised to get a tap on the shoulder asking ‘Do I need to call your dad?”