When he was a little boy growing up in Bloomington, IL, all Garrie Atkins ever wanted to do was drive a truck. He would ride his bicycle, pretending it was a tractor-trailer, and practice making turns in the parking lot. Garrie’s face lights up as he remembers one Christmas when he received a remote controlled semi. To him, there could have been no better toy. As he saw it then, “A truck was a big piece of machinery that took a ‘real man’ to drive.” So, when he became a professional truck driver, Garrie was truly living his dream job.
After 27 years of driving, 24 of those with Nussbaum, he was offered a position as a dispatcher for Nussbaum. Being self proclaimed as computer illiterate, Garrie asked the question, “Why me? I don’t even know how to turn the computer on,” to which the reply was, “We can teach you that. It’s your experience that’s important. Your knowledge of what our drivers are going through is priceless.”
Garrie attributes part of his success and recognition to a grounded work ethic. He says that his family was not well-educated when he was young, and that he was only the second person from his family to graduate high school. He’s always believed and maintained that you get ahead with hard, honest work, and he still expresses, “That’s what I try to do.”
“I think I can help drivers do their job better by making it less stressful and easier for them,” says Garrie, “I know what they’re going through, and I know the challenges they face.” He also says he has a knack for directions, and takes it very seriously when a driver needs to figure out how to get some place. Now that he’s much more comfortable with technology and tools available today, Garrie regularly uses Google Maps and its Street View feature to help guide drivers to their destination.
Since coming off the road and into the office in 2002, Garrie has really appreciated the home time. He gets to spend time with his wife Avis, who now works at Nussbaum as well, and they enjoy regular walks and vacations together. He loves to travel, and he rarely misses an opportunity to ride his Harley Screaming Eagle, which is a regular sight in the Nussbaum parking lot.
Having missed out on a lot of his daughter’s events growing up is one reason he is particularly enthusiastic to spend time with his two grandsons. You will find him at many of their track meets and cross country races cheering them on, and you can tell from the look in his eye and the sound in his voice, he is one proud grandpa.
Reflecting on his time with Nussbaum, Garrie says, “I’ve worked here for 36 years – that’s a long time. There is absolutely no better company to work for,” and adds, “If you’re willing to prove to them that you’re a good worker, they’ll prove to you they’re a great company.” He speaks highly of the people he gets to work with, and he credits the Christian values the company holds, recognizing that God has blessed this company. “That,” Garrie says, “is why I will never work for any other company.”