Know Your Board
OOIDA General Vice President Terry Button remembers a time when, as an independent owner-operator, it was very difficult to get the facts about trucking regulation.
Terry Button, a fifth generation farmer, has been operating farm trucks since he could reach the pedals. Today, he carries on the family tradition, farming 300 acres of hay while also shipping and brokering hay to supply direct customers.
Terry ships primarily to racetracks and feed stores that supply the horse industry. His customer base is well established and long-standing. Terry attributes this to giving the best possible product and service he can.
“I knew I was never going to be the biggest, but I wanted to be the best, and that’s helped me a lot through the decades,” he said.
Terry joined the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in 1992. Eventually he decided to run for the board and was elected by the membership in 2006. During the 2018 spring board meeting, Terry was unanimously elected to the seat of general vice president.
“I saw it as an opportunity to give some time back to an organization that helped me get ahead and be successful. The OOIDA’s board members are so diverse in their professional experience. We are truly lucky to have so many great people who bring different thoughts, views and knowledge to the table. The first time I walked into the board room, I was so impressed with the amount of truly great trucking people in one room.”
Terry sat down to answer Land Line’s questions between finishing the day’s paperwork, showering and getting ready to head out from upstate New York to North Carolina with a load of hay. Suffice it to say that Terry is still very much actively involved in trucking. His “day job” encompasses everything from brokering hay to hiring carriers to hauling loads himself.
When did you get your commercial driver’s license?
“I got my CDL in July 1976. I drove farm trucks all my life, but I got my CDL after I graduated from college. I bought my first truck in 1980.”
What kind of freight do you specialize in?
“I primarily do hay hauling now. I did agriculture and farm hauling back when you could mix loads. There was an art to doing the picks, loading them correctly, and getting them from Florida, South Georgia, South Carolina – places down South – on time and in good shape to the customers up in Connecticut. You’d have cucumbers, peppers, onions, and they’d expect them, and they got ’em.”
Why did you join OOIDA?
“Well, I joined for the insurance benefits they had for the owner-operator and small-business truckers. I got active by receiving the magazine. Back then it was very difficult for us to get correct information about legislation. And let me tell you, if you didn’t know the facts of the day when you hit the scale in Arkansas, you’d be told what they were by the DOT officer as he met you at the door.”
If you could make one significant change in the industry with a snap of your fingers, what would it be?
“Driver training affects the public safety more than anything we do. When you go past the mailbox, you’ve got to be on your ‘A’ game. I’ve driven somewhere between three and four million miles, never been faulted with an accident. It’s the little things we learn along the way – when to go 20 miles out of the way to avoid traffic and wear and tear on your truck, how to slide your fifth wheel. Little things that you accumulate as you gain experience, using judgement instead of reaction.”
What legacy do you hope to leave?
“I had the opportunity to work on the National Freight Advisory Committee. For two years, we went to Washington, D.C., and worked to help improve the trucking industry as a whole. It was a great experience. I met some wonderful people and was able to, hopefully, leave a written legacy that helped.” LL