This Legend article features a truck driver that doesn’t come from a long line of ties to the trucking industry. Not a single family member was ever in the business. His father served in the U.S. Navy; the desire to follow in that same direction was held in consideration before choosing a much different path. Both careers granted a similar balance that allowed the men an opportunity to provide a good lifestyle for their families while doing what they love for a living. Mark Andrade bestows a huge level of respect upon his father, stating that it was his strong work ethic and perspective on doing things the right way that influenced his own demeanor and attitude in the way he conducts himself.
Mark takes his position as an owner operator extremely serious, for it’s the nature of the business. When you offer a service, the quality of work provided is a direct image of who you are as a person; as a business professional; and all connections in which support you. His display of skills and serviceability spans over 20 years in the business, with 2 million lifetime miles to date. I asked Mark, what made him chose trucking as a profession. His response elucidated why we feature drivers such as him. “Trucking is what I know. I studied heavy diesel truck repair in college, so my background is anything to do with mechanics… driving a truck is definitely not the easier option, especially being away from home, but it just comes natural for me,” he said. Another valuable lesson passed on from his father: always stay willing to help another. He continues, “This business is tough and can tend to make people less willing to help each other. I was taught to go above and beyond to help anyone that needs help. I do for others before I help myself and I do the same thing for the company that I work with. It’s just the way I am.”
The amount of effort he ingrains into his work, he also devotes to the people his life revolves around. Mark is an extremely hard worker, dedicated to achieving success; never settling, constantly wanting to improve. At the same time, he understands the importance of maintaining healthy and happy relationships with his family. So, when he leaves out, often for extended periods of time the sacrifice is still present, but supported. Given the occupation and conditions of their agreement, truck drivers are likely to miss out on birthdays, celebrations, and holidays. It’s a part of the job. Although, what is accepted is not always easy.
As a family man, Mark aligns his priorities with home-time at the top of the list. Before joining the DB Kustom Trucks program and going back out on the road, he knew that without the approval of his family the deal would never work.
“I came across a DB Kustom Facebook ad, even though I had been following them for over a year, at that given moment it happened to be good timing. This time I went in depth, checking out the program they offered. I started doing my research on the company, and weighing out my options. I had to get my family and girlfriend, Candice to support the idea before going any further with it. I knew life on the road and with me being away from them would be hard… for them, as it would be for me. It wasn’t long after when I made the first move and submitted my prequalification form.”
Originally from Waterbury, Connecticut Mark’s childhood consisted of the typical family atmosphere, being the youngest of three siblings. Both parents worked full-time, his mother as a nurse and his father owned a liquor store. While still in high school, Mark recalls staring out the window at trucks sitting at a nearby traffic light, thinking to himself how sharp they looked. After high school, he enrolled at Ohio Technical College located in Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a career as a certified mechanic. The private technical college also offers a CDL program that Mark signed up for too. After completing both courses, he opted for the lane he presumed to be more beneficial to his needs. He says, “When I graduated I figured why twist wrenches when I could drive and get paid more right away? Besides, when I got behind the wheel, I took to driving like a fish to water. Again, it’s what comes natural.”
His first driving job was a commercial route running a Peterbilt 357 rear loader as a local trash hauler. For over three years, Mark worked for the family-owned company. Servicing the immediate area only made it possible for him to return home every day and spend time with his family. While working his route, Mark met two individuals that he credits for tuning him into tractor trailers and becoming an owner operator. “When I met Carmen, I connected with him in many ways. My father had always said that you must work for what you want and work hard at it. Carmen did exactly that! I remember thinking that I wanted to be just like him. He owned all his equipment and worked on them himself. He had this old school Peterbilt that he kept super clean… getting to see that classic was a highlight to my day. When I talked to Carmen about becoming an owner operator his answers went back to, ‘…if it were easy, everyone would do it.’ He even told me to go buy a hot dog cart, because I would have less headaches. But like any man, if you tell me not to do something I’m more determined to prove that I can.”
While seriously debating the urge to branch out on his own, another customer of Mark’s was selling his 1998 Peterbilt 379. Mark continues, “It was a dream truck! The specs were perfect, it was purple with ghost flames, and had every bit of chrome you could put on a truck. Unfortunately for me, getting financed to start a new business at the age of 21 with no business experience was nearly impossible. But the banks saying no didn’t stop me either.” Deciding to go over the road, Mark switched companies pulling fuel tractor trailers running hazardous waste to Pennsylvania and Ohio. Living in the truck, steadily on the move resulted in Mark burning out. Unable to pull completely away for long, he purchased a 1994 Kenworth W900B with a 425HP mechanical CAT engine and a 15-speed transmission. “It was my first truck at 22 years old. I had it for years and ran tipper trailer, flatbed, refers and dry vans with it,” he said. With two decades of driving experience under his belt, Mark touches a little on the highs and lows of his trucking career.
“The fact that I have a clean driving record is big to me. Especially considering the areas I travel through on my routes from Ohio and Boston. Knowing that I never rolled over, I haven’t caused any injuries, nothing; that’s probably the biggest part of what I’m the proudest of.
Now the most difficult part of the job, as most would agree, I would have to say is finding the balance between work and your family life. When you’re home, spend that time with them. When you’re away, talk on the phone with them. Stay in communication. It sounds easy enough, but it’s important that you both are comfortable with the situation or it’s just miserable for you and for them.
So yeah, when you are away on the road, don’t just do your job because it pays the bills. You’re basically sacrificing so much to do it, so why not perform your job at the full max potential possible? Give the very best of yourself to the job. And then, when you can, put all of that same effort into your home-time and before you know it everything falls into place.”
By 2000, Mark was overloaded with errands. On top of running his own trucking business, between bookkeeping and truck maintenance, he also took on a multi-family apartment building, which required more provision than expected. His days were long with little time left for his children; son, Ezra and daughter, Nadia. After a few years of round-the-clock pressure, he sold his truck with intentions to reestablish his direction. As a seasoned driver, it’s normal to consider taking on the whole nine yards, but recognizing when there is an overabundance that is causing more stress than comfort, it’s necessary to react quick. Otherwise, the repercussions backfire.
Mark landed a driving job for a company based out of Connecticut, known as R.E.D. Technologies, LLC. Specializing in transportation and disposal solutions, R.E.D. also provides environmental remediation services and heavy highway site construction. Mark started out as a dump truck driver. Over the course of 11 years, he transitioned through many positions. He says, “I took on the responsibility when it came to purchasing the rest of the trucks. From tractors, to roll off trucks and equipment, I located them and negotiated all the deals. As their logistics specialist, I managed client orders and dispatch while still running my own truck.” Once promoted to management over the waste transfer facility operations, Mark came off the road altogether. Years later, when the company opened a rail transfer facility, Mark handled all the logistics.
He took that experience and improved his overall proficiency. His ability to execute multiple jobs concurrently pushed him to appreciate the technique of running a business. He was ready to venture out on his own again, and DB Kustom Trucks was the perfect fit for what he was looking for as an owner operator. The lease to purchase program that DB Kustom Trucks offer their drivers is:
1.) Select a custom designed truck, complete & ready to drive.
2.)Select a truck under current construction with the option to aid in finishing the design.
3.)Select to build your very own custom designed truck.
Dave and Dan Brown, business owners of DB Kustom Trucks established the program specifically for owner operators to succeed, complete with mentorship, schooling, and all the resources available to ensure each driver is equipped with the knowledge and support to grow their trucking business. With over 50 years combined in the trucking industry, both Dave and Dan are experienced fleet owners that custom design each DB Kustom Truck, along with their creative team, from the interior to its exterior. When an owner operator takes ownership, they also take with them the pride that went into creating their dream truck. Mark says, “I was surprised at how easy it was to go through the DB Kustom Trucks program to get a show truck. Unlike most leases I’ve come across, theirs comes with a show truck that has been rebuilt from bumper to bumper. It comes with a job partnered through a company that just so happens to be the largest bulk chemical hauler in America. There is really no reason not to succeed with their program in place. You make the money you want by the amount of work you choose to do. If you don’t work, you won’t succeed. It’s that simple. They provide all the structure needed, the rest falls on the driver.”
When speaking with Dan Brown, he discussed how Mark was paired with the DB Kustom truck, Mango Tango. “Mark is very determined, he’s a hard worker, and had been a KW fan all his life. He fit the mold of what we look for in an owner operator. He’s confident, has pride in his work, and isn’t afraid to go after what he wants. He’s one of those guys! The Mango Tango was his ultimate dream truck. The 2003 KW W900L has a 6NZ CAT, 18-speed with 550 horsepower, it’s painted Tangerine Over Orange, which is a special three stage paint process. Overall, it was Mark’s dream truck and now he owns it. I couldn’t have picked a better guy to put in it,” Dan said. Mark later suggested that if another driver exhibited the same passion for the business as he did, he would consider purchasing another DB Kustom Truck and slowly grow a small fleet. For now, he is good with concentrating on his one truck and enjoying his off time with family.
Some advice that Mark shares for new drivers that are eager to prove themselves is to not work so hard that the desire to continue fades away. He says, “Don’t burn yourself out, like I did in the beginning. Be sure to take your personal time, go enjoy other stuff besides work. There is more to life than just the steering wheel. And if you’ve been at it a while and you’re already there, take a vacation! Go figure out what’s important. If it leads you back to trucking and it’s just what comes natural for you, slow things down and learn how to enjoy it again.”
What challenges you, shapes you. When Mark was told that being an owner operator was tough, he admits to underestimating the obligations that go along with the title. He claims that his pride is what has pushed him this far. Pride is self-awareness of your worth; the effort in which to prove value through your actions; or the enjoyment of achievement. Driving a truck is what comes natural for Mark; pride is what drives the man.