A commitment to customer service and being a stickler for safety have underpinned Barry Thomas’s entire driving career at McLane Foodservice.
“When you pull into a lot and the customers are excited to see you and they know you, that feeling energizes your day,” Barry says. “Your customers become your friends because in this industry, you’re assigned to the same route for the long-term. They help you out and you help them out. You enjoy work when you know you’re making people happy.”
But Barry’s first job was a tough customer to please. “I was 13 when I started working for my father,” at the family’s furniture moving company. “He kinda fired me. He fired my mom too.” But fortunately, Barry channeled the lessons learned from working in the family business—especially how important customer service is—into a successful career in foodservice distribution.
In addition to excellent customer service, safety is Barry’s other top priority. “It’s not just your own actions but those of the other drivers on the road” that factor into his mind. “People are in a hurry.” His advice, especially to new drivers: slow down. Stay in control. “You’re hauling 70,000 pounds down the road, you gotta have a lot of patience.”
“This career has been good to me,” he reports with pride. “I have plenty of free time to spend with my family. The salary is good. I’m putting my girls through college. I own property and a boat. I may have fallen into this industry, but I wouldn’t choose to do anything else. I’m living the American dream.”
Barry is humbled by his induction into the Hall of Fame. “I appreciate everything IFDA does to recognize drivers. I know that to them, I’m not just a faceless guy who gets in a truck and goes down the road. They understand our challenges and risks. I didn’t realize how meaningful this award would be, especially given how many good drivers there are in our industry.”
“My dad always said, ‘If you’re gonna do something, do it right.’ I think I’ve done this right.”