R. Bryan Spoon says trucking is ‘in his blood’
OOIDA Board Member R. Bryan Spoon has been in and out of big trucks for as long as he can remember.
“I grew up in a single-axle (GMC) Astro (cab-over) with my grandpa, sitting in line either waiting to be loaded or unloaded at the grain bins or feed store,” Spoon said. “I had my little plaid lunchbox packed by Grandma and everything.”
Spoon’s grandfather owned a feed store with his own trucks to haul grain. His father eventually took over the business, where Bryan got a firm background and desire to continue trucking as a career.
Joining the Navy right out of high school, Spoon spent 10 years as an active-duty Seabee heavy equipment operator. Another 12 years in the reserves included being called back to active duty in 2006 for a deployment to Iraq. His 22 years in the military the constant training, retraining and supervision he experienced set the stage for his involvement in defining standardized driver education and as the only active trucker on the panel that developed federal entry-level driver training standards.
After active duty, Spoon worked as a company driver for four years. He bought his first truck in 2004. He’s done everything from leased owner-operator to having his own authority to safety director. Spoon said he prefers the leased owner-operator situation for now.
When did you get your CDL?
“In 1998. I was stationed with Naval Special Warfare hauling the SEAL team gear. We were active duty, but for security purposes we wore civilian clothes and drove regular trucks.”
What kind of freight do you specialize in?
“Flatbed. I’m currently hauling steel coils as a leased owner-operator with a company that is mostly customer-direct, regular loads.”
Why did you join OOIDA?
“I officially joined in 2004, when I bought my first truck, but even when I was active duty we were in and out of truck stops. I’d pick up a truck paper and inevitably someone would leave a Land Line Magazine laying around. I’d fill out the card and mail it in, get the magazine until I was deployed again, and I’d let the subscription lapse. When I bought my first truck, I remembered the information in the magazine and just figured it was the logical thing to do.”
If you could make one significant change in this industry with a snap of your finger, what would it be?
“I’d make a standardized driver training rule that wasn’t gutted. In 2015, I was appointed by the FMCSA as one of the members of the Entry-Level Driver Training Advisory Committee. We spent a lot of time working on a rule that was acceptable to everyone but in the end it got pretty much gutted. I’d make sure we at least had the original rule’s standards, and maybe some beyond we compromised on to begin with, like, what we do with drivers to help them after they get their CDL – maybe continuing education.”
What legacy do you hope to leave?
“Stronger driver training requirements. It’s really the most effective safety tool we have.” LL
Get to know other OOIDA Board Members like Chuck Paar here.