Going the extra mile is an integral part of the corporate culture at Saddle Creek, and Johnny Chestnut takes that commitment seriously. One of our 600 company drivers, he has traveled over 3.5 million miles during his 40-year career – many of those from behind the wheel of Saddle Creek’s CNG trucks. He’s a living example of how we do Whatever It Takes! for our customers every day.
We caught up with Chestnut to talk about how he got started, what it’s like to drive a CNG truck, his impressive safety record, and keeping customers satisfied.
Q: How long have you been driving trucks?
A: I started back in 1976. My dad had trucks and hauled produce, so I’ve been around trucks all my life. I learned to drive one when I was 14!
Q: How long have you been driving for Saddle Creek?
A: I started driving for Saddle Creek 17 years ago and just fell in love with it. It was a much smaller company when I started, of course. Saddle Creek has been a great place to work. I’ve always appreciated their “open door” policy. You could always talk to your supervisor – or anyone in management. Saddle Creek has grown a lot since then, but that’s still true today.
Q: You’ve been driving a compressed natural gas (CNG) truck since Saddle Creek launched its CNG fleet four years ago. What’s that like?
A: When I first started, other drivers would see me at truck stops and ask what kind of truck I was driving. They’d never seen a CNG truck before. They were impressed when I told them how much better CNG is for the environment.
Saddle Creek keeps investing in the latest technology, so our CNG trucks have really improved in the past few years. They can go farther, handle better, and have more power. They help our customers reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing on deliveries.
Q: Saddle Creek is known for its industry-leading safety ratings and recently recognized you for 15 years of safe driving. What’s the secret to safe driving?
A: Saddle Creek is very focused on safety and makes sure that us drivers are too. I always take time to make sure that everything is loaded correctly, that the lights are working, check the brakes. On the road, I’m always cautious. That means being aware of other vehicles on the road, following the speed limit, paying attention to road conditions.
Q: Saddle Creek is committed to doing Whatever It Takes for its customers. How do you ensure service excellence?
A: The customer always comes first. If it weren’t for the customer, there would be no Saddle Creek. I’ve been delivering to the same customer for 14 years. I’ve gotten to know the people there personally and really understand what they need.
I haul high-value items, and it’s very important that they’re stacked a certain way. The customer can’t afford to have damaged products. They trust us to handle them carefully. I make sure it’s done right.
If there are issues, that “open door” policy I mentioned earlier comes into play. I can have one-on-one conversations with my supervisors. They always listen and work to improve things. Together, we always do our best to take care of the customer.