Military retiree now hauls tanker; is contest finalist

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Updated Dec 11, 2016
Russell HardyRussell Hardy

After 20 years of military service, Russell Hardy was getting ready to retire and thinking about becoming a diesel mechanic. He’d always enjoyed turning wrenches and thought he’d like the work, but Hardy, now 48, wasn’t looking forward to the physical requirements. He decided he was going to take his love for diesel and driving and pursue a career as a trucker instead.

Hardy now hauls a tanker for Trimac Transportation, headquartered in Houston, and driving is his happy place, he says.

“I couldn’t wait to get my license when I was a teenager and all through my adult life, if I was happy I’d want to go on a road trip and if I needed to clear my mind, I’d want to go on a road trip,”Hardy said. “It seemed like the perfect remedy was always to go for a drive. Being on the road was always kind of a happy place for me. It seemed like a good fit.” 

He spent four years in the Navy as a ship’s serviceman before joining the Army for 16 years, where he worked with air defense systems. He retired in 2014 and got his CDL soon after.

As a tanker driver, he’s often around industrial sites and chemical plants. His military service helps him stay comfortable working in industrial environments.

“I’ve just always felt at home in an industrial setting. I think I got that from being in the Navy, because you basically live in an industrial fort when you live in a ship,” Hardy said. “Your very home is industrial. You’re used to sleeping next to a pipe and having an air duct above you.”

Hardy wanted to drive haul a tanker because he saw it as the most challenging.

“I wanted to be where I felt that I was being challenged the most. That’s not to take away driving a van or a flatbed or any other such type, they all have their pluses and minuses,” Hardy said.

Despite being a military veteran, Hardy is considered a trucking rookie. His squeaky clean record and success as a led Trimac to nominate him for the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award. The award recognizes America’s top military rookie driver. It’s a partnership between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program, Kenworth and FASTPORT. The winner will be announced Dec. 16 and will receive a fully-loaded Kenworth T680.

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Hardy says he was honored to be nominated for the award and was in disbelief when he was named as one of the three finalists named in August at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

“I was in disbelief but I was ecstatic in my own quiet way,” Hardy said.

Winning would give Hardy the opportunity to become a small business owner, which is something to which he’s always aspired.

“It would be a dream come true because I always felt that I would do well running my own business and that would give me the opportunity to do so,” he said. 

He says he would recommend trucking to other veterans and would encourage them to research which trucking companies may be the best fit for them. Trucking isn’t a one size fits all career, and it’s important they research the companies they may want to work with.

“I was blessed to hire on with a good company from the start,” Hardy said. 

You can vote for the finalist of your choice online.