Michael Gainous

Giving 100% Keeps This Skyline Driver Moving

Michael Gainous has been driving for Skyline since May 2017 but has driven professionally for more than 18 years.  He was raised on a farm in Springfield, TN, with seven brothers and two sisters, and gained a lot of experience driving tractors and combines, but he never dreamed he’d drive truck over the road.  Before he started driving, he was actually retired.  We caught up with Michael to talk about his experience and what he likes to do when he’s not on the road.

What did you do before you started driving professionally?
I worked for Coca Cola Consolidated in Charlottesville, VA for almost 30 years.  I started working there part time in high school for extra spending money.  I ended up working through graduation and then found myself in management for 20 of those 30 years.  I had the chance to take an early retirement, so I did.

What inspired you to drive a truck?
I didn’t look for it, it found me so to speak.  After I retired, I found myself sitting around my house in Jackson, TN.  One afternoon, I drove down a road I had never been down before and a trucking company was having a job fair cookout.  I decided to go in and see what it was all about.  I never dreamed I’d drive tractor trailer over the road, but the next thing I knew, I was going through orientation.  I drove with that company for five years and then decided to become an owner operator.

Who did you drive for as an Owner Operator?
I leased out with FedEx Custom Critical in their White Glove division.  White Glove was a very prestigious division, the top of the trucking industry at the time.  I transported a lot of government paperwork to the Pentagon, used special equipment, transported museum pieces all over the United States – it was very exciting.

What brought you to Skyline?
Ever since I got into the trucking business, my dream was to own a fleet of trucks with my son.  When the economy went south, I finished my lease with FedEx and went back to the previous company I had started driving with.  I came off the road and realized I missed it.  That’s when I heard Skyline ads on the radio, so I called and found out what Skyline was all about.

What do you like best about driving?
The trucking business has been very good to me and my family.  I enjoy driving and getting to see different parts of the country that I otherwise would not see.  I’ve been through 48 states, from Alcatraz in San Francisco to a Yankees game in the Bronx.  Plus, my son and I were a team for seven years, so we spent a lot of prime time doing things that we never would’ve been able to do had we not been in the trucking business together.  If I hadn’t made a dime, I wouldn’t ever forget the time my son and I spent together.

What is the biggest challenge of being out on the road?
Planning ahead to find a safe place to take a ten-hour break.  When I was a team driver, I didn’t have to worry about that because we always swapped out shifts.  With the electronic logs, you’ve got to manage your time and plan out your day in advance to be sure you’ll rest in a safe place.  You hope that what you’ve planned at 7 am is actually where you are at 6 pm.  You can’t control traffic or weather and it’s hard to know what you’re getting into when you drive into a new area.

I heard you toured with The B-52’s?
Yes when I was an owner operator, I hauled their equipment around for a bit.  I was in Trenton, NJ and they were having an open stadium concert that was cancelled because it rained all weekend.  I went online to check for freight in that area and their road manager had sent an email asking for help.  My son and I took a taxi to meet with him and we got the gig.  We hauled all their equipment for three months as they finished out their tour through Canada and the U.S. . It was a pretty good experience.

How has your experience been driving for Skyline?
It’s been excellent and the support from Skyline has been great.  They’re a great company to work for.  What really impressed me when I first started was the communication from everyone in the office. Bonnie called me, Rocky and Tonia called and asked if I had any problems, even Jeff called asking how everything was going and if I needed anything.  Being a new driver for the company, that was very impressive, I knew they didn’t have to call me, but they did.

What do you want people to know about truck drivers?
Driving truck is a hard job.  There’s more to sitting in a seat driving down the interstate – you work more than 11 hours a day, you have to stay on schedule, you have to be current and compliant with endorsements and everything that goes on with the DOT.  Some people look down on truck drivers, but it’s hard, honest work.  If it wasn’t for us, you wouldn’t get anything delivered anywhere.  A lot of people don’t realize that.

What motivates you to do the best in life?
The support I get from my family and taking pride in everything I do.  I don’t want to do anything where I can’t give 100% and that’s what’s gotten me to where I am.  I take pride in getting everything delivered on time.  If I’m a minute off, that worries me to death.

How do you stay healthy out on the road?
Oh, it’s hard to eat right, maintain your weight and get enough quality sleep out here.  Believe it or not, I’ve lost 87 pounds over the last three years, but it’s hard to keep it off.  I try to stay away from fast food and I cut out all soft drinks, cookies and chips.  My wife cooks all my meals at home for the week while I’m on the road.  On my 30-minute breaks, you will see me walking around the trailer and I park the farthest away I can at a truck stop.

What do you like to do when you’re not driving?
I like spending time with my family and friends.  I’m into airplanes – I always wanted to be a pilot.  I like antiquing, TN Volunteer baseball, corvettes and working outside around my house.  I have 50 different types of roses that I maintain and enjoy working outside with my hands as much as I can.  I guess the farm boy is still inside of me.

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