When the odometer rolls over from 999,999 to the next mile traveled, where does it go? Few of us have considered this question, and most of us will never discover the answer firsthand. Pace contracts with a driver who has.
Mike Forrester, an independently contracted driver working out of Pace Bessemer, passed his one-million-mile mark driving his 2001 Toyota Tacoma truck on November 8th! Mike purchased his almost new Tacoma in 2002 prior to entering the contractor business, but his beloved truck quickly evolved into a means of growing a career as an independent contractor, driving with the Pace Logistics Carrier Network!
Early in his career, Mike worked for a florist where he gained his first delivery experiences delivering flowers. He had a short run as an employee driver for a heating and air conditioning company before putting his Tacoma on the road as a contractor for Bearden Delivery – picking up and delivering misrouted airline luggage. Mike found that he enjoyed being on the road making deliveries. In 2011, he put his Tacoma to work as a contractor for Pace, driving his courier route delivering for Long Lewis Ford across Pace’s Birmingham market.
Mike acquired his Tacoma when he was driving for Bearden and needed a new truck. A friend of Mike’s at Bearden called him excitedly one day and said, “Hey man, you need to get down to East Lake Auto! They have an almost new Toyota Tacoma at a good price with only 6,000 miles on it. AND… it’s GREEN!” Well, being an avid UAB Blazers fan (whose colors are green, white, and gold), Mike couldn’t pass up the opportunity. He went to East Lake Auto, assessed the vehicle, and made the purchase!
Mike didn’t set out to “break the odometer” by putting over a million miles on his truck. This million mile achievement resulted from Mike’s careful nature, his years on the road as an independent contractor, and his close attention to maintenance. Mike drives safely and economically. “I change the oil every 6,000 miles at Express Oil,” he explains, “so I’m at Express about every four to six weeks. I keep the tire pressures right, and I rotate them and buy new tires when it’s time.” For the last few years on average, according to his records, he has driven over 60,000 miles per year as a contractor for Pace.
So, how did the million miles add up? He’s driven over 600,000 miles in his Tacoma working as a contractor for Pace. The other 400,000 miles were on the road delivering lost luggage combined with a small amount of personal mileage. Mike commented, “I thought maybe I’d get 200,000 to 300,000 miles on it, but the further I went, it just kept on being a good truck…At around 500,000 miles, I needed a new transmission, and after that it still was working great. At about 800,000 miles, as I got closer and closer, I just figured I’d go for it!” Mike replied. “Plus,” he added, “it’s great not having a truck payment.”
Mike explains what he enjoys most about being a contractor. “Some of my jobs before I began driving had me working in a warehouse, which had me confined to one area, but I found I like being out on my own. I like the quiet, private times behind the wheel between my stops. I get a change of scenery, and I can listen to my sports talk radio.” He also enjoys the freedom of being a contractor, including the option to drive for other logistics providers.
Mike has a great service record as a contractor for Pace, both in performance and safety. “It may sound strange,” said Mike Spivey, Pace’s North Alabama District Manager, “but he’s one of those people that you can easily forget about because he’s so dependable…I mean that in a positive way!” says Spivey. Pace dispatcher, Jack Dew, also describes how dependable Mike is. “He’s there on time, five days a week, with no major accidents. Mike just shows up at Long Lewis and does his job every day.” Jack notes how well Mike takes care of his vehicle, stating, “As long as you take care of your vehicle, it will take care of you.” Jack also remarks that as the miles kept on coming, Mike eventually became “bound and determined to get to those million miles.”
Mike says that as far as his excellent safety record is concerned, “I just always keep my eyes moving, looking way ahead and watching out for the other drivers in front and behind.” Although he has been involved in two accidents over the last eight years, he wasn’t at fault in either. He says that always paying attention, watching for the other drivers on the road, and obeying traffic laws are the best ways to drive safely.
Mike enjoys seeing his regulars at Long Lewis and says they are great people who make his job pleasant. When asked whether he ever had doubts about continuing in his contractor business, Mike said that just like all of us who have to drive somewhere, “Yes, every now and then, I get frustrated with the traffic. If there’s road construction or a bridge out, it gets to me sometimes. But then again, I can just turn on the sports talk radio.”
Mike is a Birmingham-area native. “My parents moved around a lot, and I actually went to five different high schools,” he said. “For a short time, they moved to Texas, so I actually graduated high school in Paris, Texas.” He moved with his family back to Birmingham, which he considers home. “I love living in Birmingham,” says Mike. He currently lives twenty-three miles from his first pickup for Long Lewis, so it’s a relatively short commute before he starts his delivery mileage.
Perseverance has its rewards. Mike exemplifies this lesson, not only in how he maintains his vehicle, but also in his safe approach to driving. But more than that, there’s something special about the way Mike approaches his job every day. His dependability, conscientiousness, excellent customer service, and general respect for others are prime examples of Pace’s core values and a testament to what living out these values can accomplish.
When asked what his plans are for his Tacoma now that he has broken the million-mile mark, Mike replied, “I’ve put a few calls in to some Toyota dealers, to see if they have any interest in it because it has a million miles. Maybe one of them would like to check out the engine, things like that.” Or, he might eventually buy another truck and keep the Tacoma around. But, keeping in line with his dependable nature, Mike concludes, “Right now, I’m just driving it.”
Like he has already for so many miles.
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