Honoring PAM’s Finest During Driver Appreciation Week

“We appreciate everything our drivers do. The bottom line is that PAM drivers and Owner Operators are the most critical component of our business.”
–David Ables, Vice President of Operations at PAM Transport

When PAM’s vice president of operations says he understands driver challenges, he’s not just blowing smoke. David Ables began his own transportation career as a driver in 1995, so he’s navigated many hairpin turns and bumps in the road to grow a successful career.

That’s why Ables and the entire PAM management team are proud to honor their drivers during Driver Appreciation Week, September 8–14, by sharing just a few of their many PAM success stories. 

Going Above and Beyond: PAM Drivers

Driver-Mentor David Decker
Driving With PAM Since 1987

“Mr. Decker is one of my 100 percenters,” says PAM Fleet Mentor Marion Foote.

Foote says David Decker became a Mentor at PAM because he won’t allow drivers to fail. She says every driver who has worked with Decker has performed above expectations.

What Decker’s Mentees have to say:

  • “Dave’s laid-back and mellow manner was easy to driver under. I would recommend him to any student.” 
  • “David Decker is an awesome Mentor. He is laid back, patient, and understanding, and he loves to joke around. Couldn’t find anyone better for the job.”

Decker has earned the 25-Year Safe Driver Award (including a Seiko watch and a gold ring with diamonds) and he completed several Arkansas Trucking Championships, where he placed in the driving competitions.

“I am delighted to have the honor to work with him,” says Foote.

Driver-Mentor Dan Buck
Driving With PAM Since 2009

“Dan Buck is quite the gentleman who puts his heart and soul into mentoring,” says Foote. “He’s professional, independent, and a Mentor with a jolly demeanor!”

Buck’s accolades include the 10-Year Safe Driver Award (diamond ring) and he’s received perfect scores from his 100-plus Mentees.

What Buck’s Mentees have to say:

  • “Dan is a great guy! He’s laid back, but at the same time he runs a clean operation.”
  • “He really made me feel more comfortable during driving school, and he helped build my confidence level while I was training.”

Driver-Mentor Robert Suggitt
Driving With PAM Since 2003

“Robert Suggitt is an overall good guy,” says PAM Fleet Mentor David Bachler. “With his easy-going manner, he’s a really good Mentor.”

What Suggitt’s Mentees have to say:

Suggitt has also mentored over 100 drivers and is the recipient of the 11-Year Safe Driver Award (Seiko watch).

  • “After driving with Robert for only a few days, I found him to be a responsible, patient, and committed Mentor.”
  • “My Mentor Robert Suggitt is a great guy. He’s taught me everything I know, and I would strongly recommend him as a Mentor for other drivers.” 

Driver-Mentor Salvador Manrique
Driving With PAM Since 2002

“I can’t say enough good things about Salvador Manrique,” says Fleet Mentor Jimmy Russell. “He is just unbelievably awesome.”

Manrique has mentored 217 PAM drivers, who all give him positive marks for his teaching style.

What his Mentees have to say:

  • “As a Mentor, Sal was extraordinary. He did so much to help me learn the job right that I can never thank him enough.”
  • “Sal has become more than a Mentor; he’s a great friend. He is very respectful, understanding, and most of all trustworthy. He’s one of the best around.”

Driver-Mentor Samuel Peoples
Driving With PAM Since 2005

“I call him ‘Reliable Sam’ because he’s one of the best Mentors on the PAM team,” says Russell.

Samuel Peoples has earned the 11-Year Safe Driver Award (diamond ring and a Seiko watch). He’s also successfully mentored 167 drivers.

What his Mentees have to say:

  • “Mr. Peoples did a wonderful job mentoring me. He made sure I had everything covered to be a safe and professional driver.”
  • “Samuel Peoples is a great Mentor. Anyone who drives with him will be well-prepared for a PAM career. He is really a nice guy and can teach anyone who is willing to learn.”
  • “Sam is a cool dude!”

Driver, Mentor, and Lease Operator James Freano
Driving With PAM Since 2014

“James Freano is a consistent, patient, and thorough Mentor,” says Fleet Mentor Don Banta. “He’s had an impressive driving career at PAM and all his students think very highly of him.”

After advancing from driver to Mentor to Lease Operator, Freano has now mentored nearly 70 PAM drivers. He’s the recipient of the Diamond Ring Award for safe driving. 

What his Mentees have to say:

  • “I think my Mentor James did an excellent job in instructing me on all vehicle operations and safety protocols. His style is clean, safe, and respectable. He deserves a bonus!”
  • “I couldn’t have made it through my driver training without James. He’s a great Mentor who patiently gave great instructions. He has to be one of the top two Mentors at PAM.”

Driver-Mentor Bob Grace
Driving With PAM Since 1998

Grace has earned the 11-Year Safe Driver Award (diamond ring and Seiko watch). He has been recognized multiple times as a PAM Driver of the Month and he’s mentored more than 170 drivers.

“One of our most experienced Driver Mentors, Bob Grace, shows what it takes to be successful at PAM,” says Banta. “His long-time, over-the-road experience is definitely an asset to any entry-level driver who is lucky enough to climb onto his truck.”

What his Mentees have to say:

  • “I would definitely recommend Mr. Grace to guide future drivers. I learned a lot of information from him in a very short period of time. Personally, he’s a great guy!”
  • “Bob Grace was a very professional and informative Mentor. He has excellent people skills and explains real-world practices that allow for safe and economic driving.”

Showing Appreciation for PAM Drivers: September 8–14

For Driver Appreciation Week, PAM will host events at its facilities across the country, with big-top tents, catered meals, prizes, and numerous awards to show management’s appreciation for each driver’s hard-earned miles.

“Our drivers are willing to go the extra mile for their customers and they are dedicated to safety,” says Ables. “So management is dedicated to going the extra mile for our drivers.”

Each event will offer drivers the opportunity to view brand-new trucks and transportation equipment. Every facility will be open to group tours, which can be especially helpful for solo drivers who don’t have the opportunity to interact regularly with other drivers, operational staff, or management.

At each facility tour, drivers will get to meet:

  • Operators who help drivers pick up their loads on time and help them get their loads dispatched 
  • Payroll administrators to answer any pay-related questions 
  • Insurance administrators, who will also be available to answer questions

“There’s a whole support team of professionals behind every successful driver,” says Ables. “We want to give our drivers the chance to meet their support team in person.”

Driving New Success Stories at PAM

“PAM driver success is all reciprocal,” says Ables. “The better we do for the customer, the more the customer will do for us. And that in turn can provide more opportunities for our drivers.”

Ables says there are numerous opportunities for career advancement for PAM drivers, including: 

  • Dedicated or regional jobs with more home time 
  • Local positions where drivers can come home every day
  • Administrative or operation positions, such as safety, recruiting, or dispatch

“Our drivers always have a line of communication open, all the way to top management,” says Ables. “That’s what it means to be part of the PAM family.”

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