“You can be a truck driver. You can be a dad. You can be a good dad! Don’t let people discourage you because they think you can’t”
That’s the advice Thomas Miller gives to the new drivers he trains.Thomas should know. He started driving a truck three months after his oldest daughter’s birth. That was 25 years ago. He’s been driving for Prime Inc. the last 18 years.
“I have a couple of well-rounded kids,” he says with pride. “The oldest attended college on an academic scholarship. The second is still in high school. They’re both good kids.”
Two Essential IngredientsThomas credits much of his success as an over-the-road dad to two things: his wife and his fleet manager.
“It takes an incredibly strong woman to raise two kids, essentially alone,” he remarked about his wife, Misty. At the same time, Thomas says he believes the secret to their strong relationship lies with “constant communication.” Calling, texting, emailing and using FaceTime are all part of their routine.“
The number one thing is that Misty keeps me informed. Sometimes she burns up the phone with FaceTime. Being apart can be tough on a marriage. It takes a lot of teamwork.”
Second to his wife, Thomas credits his partnership with his fleet manager, who he claims is like “a second spouse.” He believes this partnership is vital to him being able to stay in touch with his family and get home when needed.
In describing Steven Wray, his Prime fleet manager, he says, “He understands the importance of being there for your kids. I’ve never been home even a minute late since I’ve worked with him. It’s a true partnership. He’s my lifeline back to Springfield. He’s got kids about the same age as mine and we’re great friends.”
Thomas’s strong relationship with his wife and daughters was put to the test when he was named “America’s Road Team Captain” for 2013-2014. He wondered if he should accept the honor because it would mean additional travel and speaking beyond his normal driving, so he asked his family what they thought knowing they would be sacrificing time with him.
Daughters Kylie and Mackenzie researched the opportunity and told him he needed to go for it even though it meant he would be away more often. They were proud of his achievements and wanted him to have the opportunity.
Words of Advice to New Over-the-Road Dads
“Be there . . . never let your job be more important than your kids.”
When Thomas goes home about once a month, he spends as much time as possible with his wife and daughters. They enjoy riding motorcycles and love going for a ride together whenever possible.
Thomas also stresses the importance of giving his girls “unfettered access,” i.e., they had call him any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He agrees that truck driving dads do have the advantage of considerable time to talk—more so than many dads who sleep at home every night. This is a great way to stay in touch with their kids.
When we signed off with Thomas, he was unloading Kraft macaroni and cheese at a Costco warehouse in Los Angeles. It’s not always easy to be so far from home and away from family, but Thomas has found a way to be successful as a driver, a husband and a father even when he’s on the road.