October Driver of the Month: Jeff Hutton
October Driver of the Month: Jeff Hutton

     I have always considered NCI my family, even before my wife passed away. I said I was looking for a home when I came here and I meant it. Finally, I found it. I never have had any problems with NCI. In fact, they have been so good to me, that winning driver of the month is almost insignificant compared to what NCI has done for me in the past. I like the recognition of course; however, I always knew I had the recognition from the people who counted.

     In January of 1994, I came to National Carriers looking  for a carrier that specialized in west coast operations. After so many years of east coast and northern driving, I was tired of going into that area. I had been a company driver for a small firm in Dallas. The firm had went out of business, which had been happening to me several times over the previous years. I was looking for a home.

     When the “Elite” Fleet® hired me, I felt comfortable immediately. I began as a driver for a fleet owner, and I felt like this was the place for me. About a year later, my fleet owner decided to sell his truck, so I went to work for another NCI fleet owner. Things were going well between him and I. After nine or ten months, we agreed I would take over payments on the truck I was driving. Within two years, I was able to take the truck and trade it in on a truck of my own.

     The first ten years at National Carriers were going well. But, you know how life is, it has to kick you in the butt sometimes, and I started having some problems. My wife was diagnosed with cancer, and of course, I had no health insurance so I ended up losing my house. In a couple of  years, I lost my wife, my house, my truck, ….everything. I figured I was as low as I could go. This happened between 2004 and 2006.

      After I had lost my truck in 2004,  I had a problem with a driver for an outside carrier at the National Beef Packers plant in Liberal, KS. He and I had gotten into an altercation, and some words were thrown as well as fists. I didn’t consider it that serious; we had a disagreement, he went his way and I went mine. My way was straight to the office of former NCI safety director, Darrell Kirkwood.

     NCI has a zero tolerance policy concerning fighting. This incident happened right in the middle of my emotional problems and upheaval that was in my life. I am not using that as an excuse, but it contributed to me losing my temper. Darrell was forced to fire me. I was really surprised. I had been here ten years, I had a good record, and had never had any problems. One minute of losing my temper and, suddenly, my life was getting even lower.There wasn’t anything I could do about it. I respected Darrell, and I respected and understood his decision.

I went to work for another carrier for five months, and it just wasn’t the same. I humbled myself and called Darrell,  asking if he would rehire me. To my surprise and delight, he was glad to have me return. Coming back, I was able to lease a truck through NCI Leasing. Slowly, I have worked my way back up. I have completed a couple of truck leases with NCI Leasing, and ended up buying the last truck I leased. My truck has been paid off for about a year. I am doing pretty well now. I have built my credit back up and come to terms with being alone. Things are looking good.