In our “Dispatches from the Road” blog feature, KANE shares the thoughts of our drivers – the men and women who live and breathe the transportation topics we often write about. In our latest installment, we interview KANE driver Paul Pantellis.
OK, we’ve got to ask. What’s the story behind your formal first name, Santorinios?
Well, my grandfather fought with the Allies for Greece in WW2. He operated a boat in the Aegean that went from the Greek island where he lived, Santorini, to the island of Rhodes moving supplies. He was unfortunately killed during the war. The family legally changed its last name to Santorinios (the man from Santorini) in his honor. My formal first name is in honor of my grandfather.
You’ve been with KANE since 2015. How did you get into trucking?
When I was young, I worked with my family in the marble and construction business. I’d have to drive trucks to help move marble and supplies around for my father. In 2004, I was trained and hired by a national carrier and ran over the road (OTR) for years.
How was that experience?
It got tiring, for sure. Plus, not being home every night began to wear on me. I left OTR and took a position with KANE as a yard jockey at the Scranton campus. After a while, I transitioned back to the road with Kane Freight Lines. I just missed it. The regional footprint of KANE is a perfect fit since it allows me to sleep home at night.
What is your typical day like?
I usually run dedicated deliveries for one of KANE’s long-term retail customers. I do my pre-trip inspection, fuel up, and head to the Scranton distribution center. Once I get the loaded trailer at the DC, I make my delivery to the store and return with an empty trailer. The transportation team at KANE makes it smooth and easy. There is never any issue with running into time violations. Every trip is planned out and seamless.
What’s the best part of your job?
The dispatch team is outstanding. They maintain the perfect balance of being both supervisors and friends. There’s a real family feel here where everyone is friendly and full of good advice. Then, of course, there’s the driving. I really do love to drive.
But there must be moments on the road that try your patience.
Absolutely. When a car comes barreling across three lanes on the highway right in front of an 80,000-pound truck, that can be pretty stressful. It’s my strong belief that all vehicles should have dash cams. Getting people on video and being able to document their bad decisions would benefit everyone.
What technology makes your job easier?
The Qualcomm system in the trucks is great. I use Rand-McNally for GPS. I’m in favor of any technology that lets you keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. I utilize a headset that’s fully integrated into my phone, so I can get weather reports and stay connected while being 100% focused on the road. Video has also come in handy.
So how have you used video?
Not long after coming to KANE, I had a trailer disengage from the 5th wheel. After I inspected it and re-attached the trailer, I took a slow turn around the yard and it malfunctioned again. The whole thing was captured on video and we were able to clearly show the manufacturer the defect and get a resolution without a lot of back and forth.
How are you challenged by ELD and Hours of Service regulations?
There are great guidelines at KANE. Dispatchers are all over every load, every pick-up and delivery. They truly make it easy. There is never an issue with HoS. If I’m in a location and the clock is running tight, I make the call to dispatch. They’ll have me set-up in no time for overnight accommodations and parking. It’s a real team environment. As a driver, I never feel like I’m alone on the road.
Any tough consignee locations?
Not really. I’ve been lucky. I mostly deliver for one retailer and all its locations are responsive and friendly. If I had to name a challenge, it would be deliveries to Brooklyn. It’s very tight maneuvering around city streets in a tractor-trailer. However, I crave the challenge. I look at it as an opportunity to sharpen my skills.
What’s the craziest/most unexpected thing that’s ever happened to you while on the job?
For that we’ll have to go back to Brooklyn, where I once had to parallel park into a tight space on a side street. There was just no space in the consignee’s yard, but I wanted to hit our appointment window. I found a spot on the street that was close enough for the unload and parallel parked. The team in dispatch couldn’t believe it. Hey, KANE is able, right?
What’s your favorite food while on the road?
Whatever my mother cooks. I’m Greek and everything my mother creates is beyond delicious. I make sure to stop by her house and stock-up for my travels.
Any thoughts on the driver shortage?
The more information that can be provided to interested people on the front end, the better. It seems people either don’t consider the profession at all or are drawn by the money without doing a deep dive on all that the job entails. It would beneficial if the government or some other third party stepped in to provide a detailed overview of the profession. A thorough orientation to driving as a career is the key to getting good drivers and not steering wheel holders.
Do misperceptions exist about a career in driving?
Driving is really a thinking person’s job. I’m not sure most view it that way. You need to carefully prepare, be diligent, react creatively to changing situations, and always stay on top of your game.
What advice would you give to those considering a driving career?
Learn as much as you can about every aspect of the job. Obviously, trucking firms are competing hard to recruit from a smaller pool of drivers. If a carrier promises you the world, it’s best to validate what they are promising. You can make good money, but choose the career for the driving and not for the money. Since drivers are in demand, good people will have choices about who they drive for. If possible, seek out great employers who care about you as a person and want you to be safe and successful.