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speaks about his drivers. In 2001, he bragged about his drivers’ safety records, saying, “It’s the employees who have kept it all together, and that’s the bot- tom line.” Today, when Wayne talks about

drivers, his voice cracks and his tone is hushed, almost reverent. Vickie Berkemeyer, whom he has called his “right hand” in the office for 34 years, explains, “To his drivers,” she pauses, “well, he’s King Wayne. He’s good to ‘em. If you don’t have drivers, you don’t have a business.” The drivers will come in, she says, to check on Wayne or talk about their day, their work, their family. He respects the ones who climb in cabs and carry loads day after day. After all, he started out as a truck

driver in a labor camp near Bakersfield, Calif.—the kind of camp you might see as Steinbeck’s Joads family rolled over the hill in The Grapes of Wrath during the Dust Bowl or the kind that were torn down in the old Merle Haggard song.

While his dad worked the pipeline

and his family followed its progress across the Southwest, Wayne and his four brothers began picking fruit and vegetables. In 1960, he got his first chance to drive the truck to haul the produce through the camps. “The first time I drove a truck I was

14 to make the harvest. I finally got to be on the orchards and canning. Each season, the supervisor always asked, What do you want to do this year? “I said, ‘I’d like to drive a truck.’” After a quick spin around the park-

ing lot to prove he could do it, he was handed the keys of a ’47 International, and his career more or less began there. “No physical. No drug test. When

the peaches and prunes were all over. I hauled potatoes in from the field to the cellar. Then I started driving a dump truck.” When he was 17, Wayne was hired

in Arkansas to haul rocks and later pulpwood. After moving rocks in a dump

truck, he went to Pencil Bluff, by Mt. Ida, in 1966. “Pulpwood was five feet wide and top heavy. I remember there was a hill that you had to shift as fast as you could, and it was raining the night I had my first load.”

WHATEVER IT TAKES One reason, Wayne and the drivers

have so much mutual respect is that he considers no job beneath him. Until recently, Wayne would still

drive when he needed to. He would work all day in the office, and then he and Peggy, his wife of almost 50 years now, would take roll-stock paper to Tulsa before coming back the next day and going back to work. But he won’t just get behind the

wheel. He’s also willing to get his hands dirty in the maintenance shop. He used to work on all the trucks. When his only mechanic was off on Mondays, the company president would also become the company mechanic. “We’ve just always kind of done



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