LORDSTOWN, Ohio – Usually, the trailers hauled by Anderson-DuBose Co. semis are emblazoned with the familiar golden arches of McDonald’s and some of the restaurant chain’s most popular menu items.
But a new initiative by the company, begun by two military veterans, will turn two trucks into mobile thank yous for those who served in the armed forces.
“During my deliveries while I was driving, I’d see trucks with different designs honoring veterans. They do them on tractors and trailers,” says Felton Shropshire, transportation associate and trainer at Anderson-DuBose. “I started thinking about how we could do that. My only regret is we didn’t do this a lot sooner. We should have done this a long time ago.”
The idea was also brought up in drivers’ meetings, adds Charlie Mencke, an Anderson-DuBose transportation trainer.
“A few months later, Felton came to me and asked how that trailer’s coming. I did some research, came up with a quick design with the logos and asked Nancy Wilson, our customer service manager, to do the artwork on it,” he says.
Both Mencke and Shropshire are veterans. Mencke, who has been at the trucking company in Lordstown 35 years, drove trucks while he was in the Marine Corps. Shropshire, who recently celebrated his 24th anniversary at the company, drove M35 cargo trucks in the Army.
“It’s to show that the customers we serve – and their customers in the parking lot or drive-thru – that we are a truly patriotic company that believes in fairness and opportunity for our servicemen,” Mencke says. “We want to thank them all.”
Part of that thanks, says Anderson-DuBose’s Lordstown general manager Paul Hammond, is what the company offers its employees who served in the armed forces.
Nearly a third of its drivers are veterans, he says, and the company advertises openings through veterans’ associations.
“We’re a veteran-friendly company because we respect what they’ve done for our country and we understand the work ethic they have, the passion they bring to their efforts,” Hammond says. “When someone comes across like that, why would we not continue to do the same when we’ve had such tremendous results in the past?”
Veterans bring two major traits to the company, adds human resources manager Linsey Gray: work experience and discipline. She cites the experience of Mencke and Shropshire who drove trucks in the military.
“We’ve found that those who have served in the armed forces tend to do our type of work very well,” Gray says. “A little bit of it is just the nature of our work. It’s something that those who are so disciplined and hardworking are good at.”
And the lessons the veterans learned permeate the company.
Shropshire still recalls an interaction he had with Mencke during his first month on the job, where the former M35 truck driver told him to always listen to others. For Shropshire, the conversation hit the same notes as those he had while in the Army.
“I’ve always remembered that and I tell it to all the new drivers. If you think you know something, you may still learn a little bit more,” Shropshire says. “The Army taught me hard work and to close my mouth sometimes while keeping my mind open all the time.”
Anderson-DuBose CEO Warren Anderson has made it a point, Hammond says, to be an employer of choice and make all employees find their places within the company.
For several years, the company has celebrated Veterans Day by hanging a banner in its main office thanking veterans. They’re encouraged to sign it, Hammond says, and every year there seem to be more and more names.
“We service New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. We’re proud of our drivers for covering that range and we’re certainly proud of the people who’ve served our country,” he says.
Although getting the truck design took a little longer than expected – about four months, because designers had to get approval to use the copyrighted seals of the military branches – it’s ready to get on the road soon and later this year a second truck will follow.
Mencke and Shropshire have little doubt that the trucks will connect drivers with veterans.
“While we’re delivering to a lot of customers, a lot of the customers going into those McDonald’s are veterans,” Shropshire says. “They’re not afraid to come up and ask questions. We’re not afraid to shake their hand and talk to them.”
Pictured: Anderson-DuBose Co. transportation trainers Felton Shropshire and Charlie Mencke came up with the idea for a trailer design that salutes veterans. A second trailer will hit the road this fall, the two veterans say.