Know your board: Meet Gary Green

February 2019

Wendy Parker

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Truck drivers make ‘million-dollar decisions’ with each lane change

After nearly 50 years in the business, Gary Green is still excited about trucking.

“I love trucks and I love the people around trucks,” Gary says. “I’ve met some of the most honest and hard-working people you could ever know.”

During his early teens, Gary’s mother married Peter Bonzi. Bonzi owned and operated as many as 20 trucks at a time during his trucking career. Bonzi was a strong positive influence in Gary’s life.

He learned his way through a diesel engine by cranking wrenches on the family trucks.

“I was in the shop out of necessity. There was always equipment that needed to be worked on, and I was expected to help,” Gary said. “My dad didn’t let me drive much until I had my license. He was really old school about rules. It might have also had something to do with me tearing a door off a truck getting it into the shop bay when I was about 15.”

Gary joined the military out of high school, spent his enlistment as a helicopter mechanic but never doubted he’d end up trucking for a living.

“I never wanted to do anything but truck. It’s something I love to do,” he said.

When did you get your commercial driver’s license?

“I got my chauffeur’s license in 1967. My stepdad insisted on it, because I was working in his shop. But even before that, I knew I’d truck for a living.”

What kind of freight do you specialize in?

“I’ve hauled everything from dirt to whiskey. Pretty much every kind of trailer you can think of, except tankers. I’ve only done tankers a couple of times, and if you only do it a couple of times, you haven’t really done it. I haul debris these days. End dump. Keeps me local.”

Why did you join OOIDA?

“You know, so many things go on during a trucking career, after a couple of decades it becomes a blur. I don’t remember exactly when it was (records say April 1989), but the industry was experiencing a lot of turmoil. There had been strikes and deregulation, and the owner-operator was still getting the worst end of everything and hauling most of the freight. I stopped in when they were still at the old truck stop on one of my trips through. I stopped three times before I joined, but I knew those guys had a vision that would withstand time. They had a plan beyond the turmoil. Jim, Todd and Esler were fantastic people to meet. They had the right idea. They understood the strikes didn’t hurt the fleets or the banks. They hurt the small-business independent. They knew how to be aggressive but sensible.”

If you could make a significant change in the industry with one snap of your fingers, what would it be?

“If I could change something with the snap of my fingers, I would make the DOT enforce every single rule they have on the books for one day. Because I guarantee you if they had to enforce every single rule for one day, there would be a lot less rules on the books the next day.”

What legacy do you hope to leave?

“I would want people to remember that I never gave up on this industry. However it goes, I will never give up on it. Truckers are some of the most adaptable, trustworthy people. They really are amazing. Owner-operators make million dollar decisions with each lane change, and they do it like it’s nothing. It’s part of their world, how they live their life. That’s amazing.” LL