OOIDA tour trailer stops in Vermillion, S.D.

September 13, 2021

Chuck Robinson


For the next couple of days, Marty Ellis plans to park the OOIDA tour trailer in the southeast corner of South Dakota.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 14-15, he plans to be at the TA Express in Vermillion, S.D. It is at Exit 26 from I-29.

There are 128 parking spots for tractor-trailers at the Vermillion TA. There’s a Pizza Hut there as well as a deli, Cinnabon, Subway and Caribou Coffee. This is another Coffee Cup Travel Plaza location that was rebranded TA Express recently.

Vermillion is home to the campus of University of South Dakota. The city shares its name with the Vermillion River. “Vermillion” is French for “red.” The river flows to the Missouri River, which is just south of the city.

The truck stop is just east of the city of Vermillion in an unincorporated community named Burbank that has a ZIP code but no city government. It is named for the fourth governor of the Dakota Territory, John A. Burbank.

The Vermillion TA is the truck stop dedicated to OOIDA life member Jerry Seaman, who was named a TA & Petro Citizen Driver in 2020.

The Citizen Driver program recognizes professional commercial drivers who earn public respect for the trucking industry through good citizenship, safety, community involvement, health and wellness, and leadership.

Seaman is from Huron, S.D., which is about 175 miles northwest of the TA Express with his name. He has more than 5 million crash-free miles behind the wheel. Seaman has been involved with the South Dakota Convoy for Special Olympics since its inception in 2002.

Thoughts on driver retention

Often drivers stopping by will have stories about companies they formerly worked for or about problems with the company they currently are hauling for. Ellis said he always is interested in what drivers are experiencing.

As far as driver retention is concerned, Ellis said on Friday’s Land Line Now broadcast that companies seem to be overpromising and underdelivering.

“Some of it’s as simple as not being able to get home when you need to get home,” Ellis said. “That’s one of the reasons I stayed with A&A for as long as I did. I could probably, in the 27 years, I could probably count on less than two hands the times they did not get me home when I told them I had to get home.”

An emergency situation or a funeral is one thing, but when the company has a couple of weeks’ notice they should be able to accommodate the driver.

“When these companies are told a couple of weeks in advance that you have to be home, there’s really very little reason other than maybe a breakdown, why you should not be able to get the driver home. I know there are a lot of excuses out there, but ultimately, you made an agreement with that driver,” Ellis said. “And if you do that too many times, the whole family is going to be against you as a company, and you just going to lose that driver no matter how good he is. He’s just going to say, ‘OK, I’m out.’”

Especially with long-haul trucking, Ellis said it would be good for spouses to be in on pre-employment discussions so that everyone knows what to expect when a driver hires on with a company.

Listen to the Land Line Now broadcast here.

Stop by when you see The Spirit

If you see OOIDA’s tour trailer, stop by and say hello. Ellis is looking forward to visiting about the Association’s activities and current issues. There are copies of Land Line Magazine to pick up there. You can join or renew your membership for $10 off the regular price there. Face masks are available at The Spirit for anyone with a commercial driver’s license.

After the stop in Vermillion, The Spirit is scheduled Sept 17-18 to be at the South Dakota Special Olympics Convoy in Sioux Falls.

Here is the schedule for The Spirit. LL


Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.