When you talk to Dennis Davis about safety and over-the-road trucks, you may not think about the fact that he is also a dad to a 22-year-old step-daughter and a 6-year-old son. As a husband and father, Dennis cares a great deal about Prime drivers, their safety, the well-being of their families and anyone sharing the road with a long-haul trucker. “We want to help our drivers be the safest they can be,” he says. “It’s important for them and their families, as well as for the company.”
Dennis functioned in the role of dispatcher at Prime for a number of years before he assumed his current role as “Safety Supervisor.” In that role he spoke every day with Prime drivers who are also dads. He understands the challenges they face in wanting to provide a good living for their families at a job that requires them to be gone from home much of the time. “Safety and service are our priorities—bottom line. We want drivers to take time off. It’s necessary.”
Dennis is very proud of his own family, especially his son, Dennis James Davis III, or “DJ,” as Dennis and his wife, Carrie, call him. “He’s smarter than me,” claims Dennis. “I have to grow up with him.”
Dennis admits that being with his son is especially important to him because he grew up without a dad. Because both he and his wife enjoy sports, Dennis spends a lot of time in athletic activities with DJ. Even though he and Carrie both love basketball, they’ve tried to keep an open mind to other options. So far they’ve tried basketball and soccer, with Dennis coaching the latter even though he says he knows very little about the game. “We’re also trying some individual sports, like golf,” he said, since he and Carrie discovered DJ is not that excited about team activities.
“The most important thing,” notes Dennis, “is giving him the opportunity to try lots of things without the pressure to succeed at something he doesn’t like.”
In terms of helping drivers stay in touch with their kids, Dennis observed, “It’s easier now than it once was with FaceTime and Skype, but it can still be hard to miss the daily moments at home. It’s important that drivers have time to take a break to be with their families.” He said he was glad Prime’s policies were more flexible in the summer, allowing older children to spend more time with their dad, riding in the cab with him over the road.
Chris Martin laughingly refers to himself as “Business Partner, Travel Agent and Financial Agent” in his role as “Fleet Manager” for 130 Prime drivers. He believes his identity as father of 8-year-old Ben and 1-year-old Max influence his interactions with his drivers, especially in understanding their need to make a living and get home to see their families.
“I want to make sure my drivers know I manage them as a dad, as someone who is also concerned about a family.”
Chris and his wife, Amber, are especially pleased with the child care available on site at Prime. Their son, Ben, benefited from this arrangement for several years before he began school. Now Max enjoys going to work with Chris and interacting with him occasionally during the day. When asked if he sees his son during the day, Chris remarked, “Sometimes, if you hear about something bad happening in the world or you’re having a tough day, it’s nice to just be able to go down to the day care, check on him, hold him for a bit, and return to work.” There’s no doubt this dad loves his kids.
When it comes to parenting, Chris says he focuses on learning and understanding what his kids are “in to,” especially Ben. “I’m interested in what he likes, which includes sports. We’re trying baseball right now, but he also likes video games.”
“What’s it like to be the parent of two boys,” we wondered.
Given the age gap of 6 ½ years between the boys, Chris reported little competition or conflict between the boys. Even so, he said, both he and Amber tried to spend individual time with each of the boys.
Being a dad can be demanding, especially with children of different ages, needs and interests. Interacting with 130 drivers a week also has its challenges. We suspect the aptitude and ability to do well at one role, is also helpful in the other.