Trucker’s second chance keeps family first

By David Tanner, associate editor

Billy Basenberg’s family has grown by leaps and bounds since he got back on the road.

The Jasper, AL, resident says he is enjoying his second chance at trucking thanks to the host of good people and companies that awarded him the Arrow Back on the Road prize package during the Mid-America Trucking Show in March.

Without the truck, the job, and the tools to get back out there, Billy says he’s just not sure where he’d be right now.

“Had this not come into my family’s life, I don’t know where I would have turned,” Billy said during a recent stop at OOIDA headquarters in Grain Valley, MO.

Billy has always believed in trucking as a brotherhood, and his second chance confirms it.

“Since the show, everybody’s been treating me like family,” he said.

“I get a lot of thumbs up, at fuel lines, in a rest area. Some people come up and want to share their stories. For what it’s done for me, I’ll tell anyone about it.”

Not long ago, before Back on the Road put him in a position to work again, Billy’s family was broke, medical bills were piling up, and the job outlook was bleak. Complications from diabetes took his brother Rick, and Billy’s wife Tammie was in a serious car accident that required expensive surgeries. One of their four sons, Jason, came home from the war in Iraq suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress. Billy cared for all of them and spent less time on the road. Before long, the jobs and paychecks dried up.

“The family is doing better,” Billy says humbly, but with confidence.

“Jason’s issues are up and down, with PTSD and depression. Tammie drove with me last year for a bit, but with me having this job, she’s been able to rehab on her own at home.”

The extended family helping Billy and his family include Arrow Truck Sales and Mack Trucks for a year’s worth of truck payments on a 2008 Mack Pinnacle; Heartland Express for a one-year work agreement with plenty of loads and miles; OOIDA for truck insurance; Michelin for tires; Pilot Flying J for fuel; along with gifts from Thermo King, ATBS, National Truck Protection, Mack Genuine Parts, Mobil Delvac, Minimizer Products, SleepDog Mattress, Rand McNally, 16 Ton Industries, Rolling Strong and Image Works.

“The best thing about the program is that it’s not just a truck. It’s giving someone the tools to be successful,” said Lane Bartram, marketing manager for Arrow Truck Sales. “It helps them, too, because they still have to do the work.”

Billy joins a small, but proud group who are making the best of their second chances in trucking thanks to Back on the Road. They are OOIDA Members Don Turkelson, Dennis Lott, Robert Snyder and David Acosta.

“These are people with a strong work ethic,” says Bartram. “They don’t enter because they’re asking for a handout. They’re solid citizens and they just want to work.”

Billy Basenberg says one of the most valuable things he has learned is to have a business plan that sets aside money for a maintenance account.

“Having no truck payment helps,” he said.

Billy says he is forever grateful for the opportunity to truck again and support his family.

“Sometimes I think, why me?” he reflects. “And then sometimes I think it was meant to be. I believe my brother had a hand in it. People may not believe that, but that’s something I believe.” LL