By Roger McKinney
JOPLIN, Mo. —
In his nearly 33 years as a truck driver, Bill Compton has traveled to every state in the United States and all but one of the provinces in Canada.
On Wednesday, Compton was honored by Con-way Truckload, its predecessor Contract Freighters Inc., and his coworkers for having driven four million miles.
That’s the equivalent of 166 times around the planet and nearly 17 times from the earth to the moon, an average of 121,212 miles per year. He has driven 30 trucks during his career.
“It’s been a real ride for 33 years,” he told well-wishers. “Thank God, I made it through. I wouldn’t have made it without Him and His help.”
Speaking to the crowd, Compton said he had many role models in reaching the milestone. Among them was Benny Young, who drove three million miles during his career. Compton talked about one of his worst days, finding Young dead in his truck at a rest stop.
“I’m really thankful to have known the man,” he said, of Young.
Speaking to reporters, Compton said when he was hired by CFI, he thought he might last six months, then find another job. Con-way acquired CFI in 2007.
“It’s a milestone in life I never thought I would possibly reach,” Compton said of driving four million miles.
Though he said he never wants to retire, he also doesn’t plan to reach the five million mile mark on the road. He said he turns 75 on Dec. 2 and he wouldn’t mind finding an office job in the company before too long. He started on Aug. 1, 1980.
“It’s a good living,” he said.
During presentations, Douglas Stotlar, chief executive officer of Con-way, said Compton is the first driver in the 84-year history of the company to reach the four million mark. Only one other driver had driven three million miles.
Saul Gonzalez, president of Con-way, asked those present to think about how many customers Compton came in contact with and what kind of impression he had over 33 years and four million miles.
Gonzalez said he rode along on a trip with Compton as he was advancing in the company. He said his experience was so good, he did it again.
“He’s seen the industry change,” Gonzalez said.
Former CFI President Glenn Brown said he called Swift Transportation, the largest trucking company, who reported never having had a driver who logged four million miles.
“I remember him as a driver that always got the job done,” Brown said.
Herb Schmidt, another former CFI president, said after Compton reached three million miles in 2004, Compton told him: “Herb, I guess I’m going to go for four.”
Schmidt said Compton was able to reach the mark because he worked for a good company; because he had a good support system at work and at home, and because Compton had persistence and character.
Tires, a resolution and a check
A Missouri House of Representatives resolution acknowledging Bill Compton’s accomplishment was presented to him Wednesday. He also received a plaque from Michelin and a promise of a set of four passenger or light truck tires from the company. Con-way Truckload also gave Compton a check for $2,500.