Driver of the Year 2016


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it one hundred times: “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Luckily, with the 2016 Bulkley Trucking Driver of the Year, this adage isn’t quite applicable.  In the case of Mr. James Garrard, what you see—a soft spoken, easy going Christian who takes pride in his job—is what you get.  Any dispatcher that has the pleasure of working with Mr. Garrard is quick to testify to this driver’s willingness to do anything that is needed, anytime, day or night.  “If we had a hundred James Garrards, there would be no stopping Bulkley Trucking”, says Joshua Fortune.

             James’ career in trucking started about twelve years ago.  His father drove a truck after he retired, and James rode with him occasionally.  He says, “Around here, if you are going to make a decent check, you’re going to drive a truck.”  He borrowed a truck to take his driving test one morning and was on his way to Shreveport with his first load that same afternoon.  Although he had no formal training, he had spent a decade operating heavy equipment at the coal mine and therefore knew his way around a truck.

             James Garrard’s faithful companion for all of the twelve years he has been driving is Molly Gale, his twelve-year-old Daschund.  The two are a package deal. When asked what his favorite memory driving was, James shared a mental snapshot of one beautiful stream abiding peacefully at the foot of a steep hill which he had discovered behind a delivery point in Athens, Tennessee.  He fondly shares that little Molly-Gale loved to run down the hill over and over, though her tiny legs gave way and sent her sliding and rolling most of the way.  Mr. Garrard’s sweet pup has been there to witness both the trials and triumphs that he has driven through during his career in interstate commerce. While he feels that the drivers of privately owned vehicles have very little respect for truck drivers on the road, James cannot speak poorly of his commercial driving peers. They often extend hands of silent, humble kindness to strangers and each other by paying for meals, lending a few dollars, or just coming out to look and give their opinions on why a fellow driver’s truck is making funny noises. In his own words, “You cannot run over the road and not have a heart for people”

             James has been a member of the Bulkley Family since May of 2014. He enthusiastically shares his fondness of the other Bulkley employees, and solidly states that he is treated with respect at all times.  As a local driver, his favorite thing about driving for Bulkley is his ability, as a local driver, to go home most nights and to sleep in his own bed. Along with this praise, he adds that he also appreciates the new equipment.  Before coming to Bulkley Trucking, Mr. Garrard’s truck was ten years old and had over three million miles on it. It’s easy, then, to understand his appreciation for the 2014-2016 model automatic Volvo’s that cover the Bulkley Trucking lot.

             According to James, the primary difference between employment in interstate commerce in the past compared to employment today is the logistical requirements of paper logs versus e-logs.  When asked if he would go back to paper logs, Garrard stated, “Absolutely not”.  Not only do e-logs aid the driver in the responsibility to comply with Department of Transportation regulations—they provide the dispatchers with an extensive bank of information, which they then use  to schedule the drivers. The ultimate benefit of e-logs is the opportunity it gives the company as a whole to ensure that drivers reap the maximum benefits from their on-the-road hours.  Drivers who show efficiency on the clock are able to make better use of their time off the clock. “Better use” to most of Bulkley’s East Texas drivers means relaxation, spending time with friends and family, and checking off of their ever-lengthening honey-do list.

             James Garrard, the newly awarded Driver of the Year, offers this bit of simple but often overlooked advice: the job can’t be accomplished without many hours of hard and honest work. James’s excellent fuel mileage is one of the things that qualified him for this award. He revealed that the secret to getting his excellent mile per gallon ratios was to avoid idling his truck, and to consciously drive at a moderate speed.  The other more obvious requirements—being courteous to customers, not getting tickets, and being a conscientious driver—these come natural to a man with James Garrard’s character. 

Mr. Garrard has been awarded a check for $15,000 as well as a beautiful award from Sulphur Springs’ very own Eternity Creations.  James was transparent about his plans for the prize money. The first thing on his list is to tithe to his church in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. With the remaining sum, he hopes to donate to both St. Jude’s Cancer Research Fund and Wounded Warriors Project. Finally, Mr. Garrard plans to save the rest of the money to fund his retirement.

             James Garrard’s priorities come shining through to anyone that has the pleasure of coming into contact with him.  He honors God through his actions, treats his work and employers with respect, loves his family, and is willing to sacrifice for the wellbeing of those he holds dear.  Bulkley Trucking is proud to be able to honor this man with the title of Driver of the Year.



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