Bill Gaertner was a district manager for a grocery chain before the company closed and was taken over by Kroger. After taking a few years off for medical leave, Bill came back to work, but found he couldn’t do the same things he had done before his time away. Bill decided he would start truck driving, and pursued education and training in the field.
“I always liked driving,” Bill states, so it sounded like a good fit. He was introduced to NTB when Kurt Koster came to Bill’s class to talk about what it’s like working with the company. “It was one of the better situations for me because I didn’t want to be gone three, four, or even six weeks at a time.” Unlike many new drivers who start driving long haul and spend several weeks at a time away from home, NTB gives drivers two days home each week. “It appealed to me right off the bat because I could be home every week,” Bill said. “Most companies are talking twenty-one days or more and they say they’ll ‘try’ to get you home, but that’s not real.”
Like most people, his period as a new driver was a learning experience. “Being new, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. It’s a different kind of life.” Because of his grocery background, Bill knew a little about driving trucks for somewhere like Meijer, but needed to learn firsthand. “The challenge is figuring out where these stores are, what the quickest route is,” and the nuances of each store. “They’re all different.” While in training, drivers get a lot of highway experience, but Bill learned that being able to safely navigate off the highway, in lots and docks was a more frequent scenario because NTB’s largest customer is Meijer stores, and he makes more stops than long haul drivers would.
“I’ve been with small companies, major companies—NTB is still big enough to do what they need to do, but small enough to know you by name.” Many drivers note that they like the personal connection with NTB, and dispatchers who know them by name. Bill realizes that “dispatchers have a challenge, budgeting and balancing, and try to keep drivers happy while keeping freight moving.” Everyone works together with safety as their first priority.
There are other reasons Bill likes working for NTB:
“They’re a really good company, and are constantly looking for new and better ways through the marvels of technology to be more economical and more profitable. Then they invest in the company and keep things moving forward. They’re keeping their fleet really up to date. This fleet is unbelievably taken care of. If I have an issue, my truck will be fixed. I never have to worry about breaking down on the side of the highway, or blowing out tires. The fleet is remarkable. They’re constantly doing what they have to do to keep these trucks rolling.”
When Bill is not driving, he likes hunting and fishing, and spends time with his grandkids. His grandsons are ages two, nine, and eleven. He has a granddaughter who is six, and Bill admits, “She’s got me wrapped around her finger.”