‘These guys are really looking out for us’

Monte Wiederhold joined OOIDA in 1983 after reading a Land Line article by Jim Johnston.

May 2019

Wendy Parker

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Monte Wiederhold spends the bulk of his workday running steel coils around the heartland of America. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I’ve always been kinda nuts about trucks,” said Wiederhold, an OOIDA board member from Lebanon, Ohio. “When I was a kid I had Tonka trucks, but I realized they didn’t have stacks. So I’d clip a ballpoint pen to the sides – pretend they were stacks. That was my level of attention to detail as far as trucks go.”

When it came to teaching him how to drive a commercial vehicle, Monte remembers his dad exercising a similar level of attention to detail.

“We’d go 10 minutes, or 10 miles – depending on how long it took me to screw up – Dad would say, ‘Pull it over here, just pull it over.’ He’d take the wheel and tell me to sit there and watch to see what mistakes I’d made. It was a rough way to learn sometimes, for sure.”

After decades on the road, Monte understands why his dad was so hard on him and appreciates that level of importance put on being a safe driver.

“I hate to sound solemn, but there’s a real fine line between living and dying out here sometimes. If you don’t know what you’re doing you might not get home – or worse – other people might not get home because of your mistakes,” Monte said.

The need for advocacy for independent trucking became evident to Monte early on. He believes the role OOIDA plays keeping lawmakers and government officials in touch with small-business owner-operators is equally as important as the role the Association takes in educating and informing the small-business owner-operator.

When did you get your commercial driver’s license?

“In Ohio, you had to be 18 to get a chauffeur’s license. I graduated in ’74, got my chauffeur’s license right after that so I could work the construction site with my dad. He’d take on the ‘empties’ to give me stick-time. We worked together at Charlie Hamilton Excavating. I was eventually grandfathered into a CDL when they changed the license.”

What kind of freight do you specialize in?

“I do flatbed and haul mainly steel these days. Sometimes aluminum ingots. We do stand-up, skidded – pretty much any way they make it. But the bulk of it is coils.”

Why did you join OOIDA?

“I had only been in business as an owner-op a couple of years. I was running mostly a lot of dry van grocery loads. There was a lot of sitting around, waiting. I picked up a Land Line Magazine one day – I don’t even remember where I was, but I was probably waiting to pay someone to unload my truck. There was Jim Johnston, talking about lumpers and how laws had been passed but weren’t enforced. It really resonated with me. I realized, ‘Hey these guys are really looking out for us, and we need to know this information.’ I joined in 1983.”

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

“I’d abolish the ELD mandate. It’s a misconception that everyone who uses a paper log is a cheater. That’s just not true. And now that the mandate has been in place for more than a year, it’s pretty evident it has no safety benefits. It should have never been presented as a safety thing.”

What legacy do you hope to leave?

“I’d like to be known as someone who always tried to help out. I know that sounds simple, but it kind of is, really. We need to help each other out as far as mentoring and learning the trade. It’s easier to get out and help than it is to trade paint.” LL

Wendy Parker

Wendy Parker has covered the trucking industry since 2012 after she says she “lost my mind and decided to climb inside my husband’s big truck to travel with him as an over-the road, long-haul trucker.” Her unique writing style that ranges from biting satire to investigative journalism coupled with her unbridled passion for fighting round out a wildly talented stable of writers.