Know Your Board
Tilden Curl: Educate others about realities of trucking
Tilden Curl grew up on a farm in Arkansas and fondly remembers driving a tractor before he was tall enough to sit in the seat and mash a clutch.
“We had an old H model Farmall with a right-hand clutch, so you didn’t have to push a pedal,” he said, “I’d hop on that thing at about 9 years old and drive it around the farm before I was tall enough to push in the clutch on the other tractor.”
Interestingly enough, trucking wasn’t Tilden’s first profession.
“I got married young and had a family. I spent my 18th birthday in the Alaska oil fields and worked the rigs for about 15 years, until they started shutting down in the late 1980s.”
After settling in Olympia, Wash., where Tilden still lives, a temporary position with the city of Olympia offered free CDL training.
“I only needed a Class B for the job, but they offered to pay for the whole thing, so I got all the endorsements,” he said. “I figured if they were paying for it I’d get everything I could.”
He attributed excelling in the certification program to all the years driving on a farm.
“It just seemed to be something I was good at, and I liked it,” he said.
After navigating through a couple of job changes, Tilden found his calling in the single-unit independent flatbed trucker status he still enjoys today. Mentoring from an older, more experienced driver helped Tilden become successful at what he does.
He feels a duty to pass that information and knowledge on by helping to educate the general public, fellow drivers and lawmakers about real issues that occur daily in the lives of trucking professionals.
“It is my mission to use my experience to educate others to help make our industry and our highways more safe, productive, efficient, and profitable,” Tilden said.
When did you get your commercial driver’s license?
What kind of freight do you specialize in?
My entire career has been pulling flatbed and step-deck trailers. Early on I carried a variety of freight based on availability, including some oversize loads. Currently, I carry cross arms for power lines, construction material and equipment, and hot tubs.
Why did you join OOIDA?
In the early years of my business, specific information about running a business was hard to come by. I started figuring things out on my own and wanted to share it with others. That’s when I heard about this organization called OOIDA. They were made up of truck drivers to help truck drivers. I thought “Why wouldn’t every truck driver want to be a member?” I saw many common interests and concerns.
If you could make one significant change in this industry with a snap of your fingers, what would it be?
I would want more than one but if I had to narrow it down to one I think it would have to be full rate transparency from shipper to receiver. If drivers could see how much shippers pay and how much gets skimmed off of the rate on its way to paying the driver, drivers would have the information to negotiate better rates. That applies to company drivers as well as people using load boards or broker services.
What legacy do you hope to leave?
It has always been my ambition to leave this industry better than it was when I came in. I hope to be viewed as a vocal advocate for drivers and maybe affect some changes that make this a better industry. I want to raise the quality of life for drivers and their families. LL
Get to know other OOIDA Board Members, like Johanne Couture.