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DAVID SAUNDERS Workforce Q&A


BY TODD TRAUB Contributing Writer


David Saunders would like to have


been a musician. But instead of a life on a stage, fate


gave Saunders, president of Workforce Q&A, a platform from which to make a difference. “Saving lives,” said Saunders—one of the


trucking industry’s leading voices on compli- ance, safety and accountability— when asked what he enjoys most about his work. “I don’t know how you quantify that. I


just know that when we report a driver out who’s not behaving the way he or she should be, hopefully we’ve saved some lives.” Saunders got his start in the industry


working on, and driving, trucks for his father’s company in Temple. Thanks to the mobile nature of the business, David and three of his four siblings were all born in different cities. His parents, who met as musicians in


the 1950s, also, came from different parts of the map. “Dad was a Texas guy and mom was


from Iowa,” Saunders said. Saunders’ mother played standup bass


for Bobby Bare and his father played guitar for Hank Williams before moving on to start the family business. “Of course truck driving and country


music, there you have it,” Saunders said. Saunders, 57, who keeps a music room


at his house and has maintained friend- ships with members of George Strait’s Ace in the Hole band, describes music as his “first love.” But he was born with a hearing impairment that kept him from pursuing a


66 Summer 2015


music career, so he grew up working on and driving his father’s trucks and contin- ued to work as a mechanic and driver for other companies after his dad sold the business in 1982. Saunders became a crew leader and


learned management under his mentor Drayton McLane, third generation head of the wholesale grocery distribution giant McLane Company. But in the early 1990s, doctors told Saunders he would have to leave the trucking industry because of his hearing disability. “I said that’s not going to happen, the


trucking industry is my life,” said Saunders, who vowed to find a new career path with- in his beloved industry. Saunders began to learn the


regulatory side of the industry, serving on committees, making connections and forging relationships. “I began to network and learn and


grow,” he said. Sitting in a restaurant booth with


industry executives in 1997, Saunders noted the growing presence and usefulness of the Internet and sketched out ideas for using the web and software in the compliance arena. In 1999, while working on ideas to centralize driver files and speed up drug test reporting, he showed the napkin to a friend whose brother worked for Comdata in Dallas. Soon Saunders was moving to the city to work as Comdata’s director of business


development, then built a software platform for Transplace. In 2004, Transplace asked Saunders to take over operation of the platform and keep the company as a customer. “That’s how it became Compliance


Safety Systems,” Saunders said. An American Trucking Associations


member, Saunders has served on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s regulations and education committees and also the CSA Task Force Committee, representing the ATA. Meanwhile, in 2014, Compliance


Safety Systems merged with IMRO and Workforce Q&A to continue to provide software, technology and customer service to the drug-free workplace industry. “I’ve never been one that wants to


make a living. I want to make a difference,” Saunders said. Among Saunders’ many accomplish-


ments was going to Capitol Hill with Greer Woodruff of J.B. Hunt and Dave Osiecki of American Trucking Associations to lobby Congress, and ultimately win approval for, a national clearinghouse for drug and alco- hol testing. Saunders was alarmed to see drivers


with offenses on their records popping up at different places of employment, and to this day he continues his work to make sure such offenders aren’t allowed to get behind the wheel. R


“I’VE NEVER BEEN ONE THAT WANTS TO MAKE A LIVING. I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE.”


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