Veteran driver's passion for trucks remains strong

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

Wayne Alberts was only a teenager when he figured out what he wanted to do for a career.

“I’ve been in the business since I was 17,” said the 68-year-old OOIDA life member from Justice, Ill. “I started out as a mechanic. I worked my way up from a mechanic job to a driving job, and I never looked back.”

Growing up on a farm, Alberts was familiar with big machinery.

“As a kid, I always drove tractors on the farm,” he said. “I was driving before I was old enough to see over the wheel. I always had a love for big machines.”

That love developed into a career that lasted more than 50 years.

Not long after Alberts started as a truck driver, he bought a truck of his own – a 1971 GMC cabover – and became an owner-operator of Alberts Leasing Inc. His experience as a mechanic has allowed him to do much of the maintenance and repairs himself over the years.

“My grandpa used to always say, ‘If you can’t work on it, then you shouldn’t drive it,’” Alberts recalled.

Alberts also made the decision to join the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. One of the early members, he enjoys showing off his No. 59 membership card.

“As an owner-operator, I was searching for an organization with some strength,” Alberts said. “We were dealing with the gas wars at the time. That’s what got me started. I wanted to be part of something that makes sense. Owner-operators spend too much time by themselves. This puts us together and gives us strength in numbers.”

Alberts said he’s used Land Line Magazine to keep informed about the latest trucking issues.

“It shows you how to get in contact with your lawmakers and helps you keep up with what’s going on in your state,” he said.

In addition to having strength from his membership, Alberts said he has received significant support from his wife, Geri Alberts.

“If you don’t have a good partner, you shouldn’t be in the business,” he said. “Trucking is a long, hard job that you have to have complete dedication for. You have to have an understanding wife who is willing to work with you. If she’s not willing to handle the home chores while you’re on the road, then you don’t have a chance. The love of a good woman keeps every man going.”

Alberts’ passion for trucks also keeps him eager for each new day. Having recently retired as a truck driver, he is busy converting his 1996 Dodge pickup truck into a mini-Peterbilt.

“It’s been a labor of love,” Alberts said. “It’s been a four-year process. Everything has to go in by hand. A lot of engineering is involved. There are 15 lights on the side and rear that have to be cut in by hand. The center plate is a huge oval that’s cut out by hand. The front seats are actual Peterbilt seats. The arm rests are actual Peterbilt arm rests. A lot of thought has gone into this.

“It’s not quite complete. I still have some small projects to do.”

Alberts plans to have his mini-Peterbilt ready to be on display for the 2017 Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky.

“I’m definitely going to be at MATS next year,” he said. “They already have a spot for me.” LL