“This contest isn’t just about getting ‘back on the road.’ It’s more about getting ‘back to my life’ for a truck driver.” –Dave Nemo, Sirius XM radio personality, on Arrow Truck Sales’ “Back On The Road” campaign
It’s hard – VERY hard – not to get teary eyed about Robert Snyder’s trucking story. A down-on-his-luck driver out of Dunnellon, FL, trying to feed his family and stave off an ever-increasing pile of bills with busted up rig in dire need of repair, Snyder had good reason for despair.
But that’s not the kind of person he is, nor is it the man his daughter Savannah Snyder saw on his increasingly fewer visits home as he stayed out on the road for longer and longer stretches trying to earn more money.
“My dad isn’t like most fathers, husbands, or even like most guys who are going through hard times,” she said today during Arrow Truck Sales’ third annual “Back On The Road” contest here in Louisville, KY, at the Mid America Trucking Show.
“He constantly puts everybody before himself,” Savannah noted. “Money is tight and our family is struggling. I want the weight lifted off of my dad’s shoulders; I want him to smile. Not those fake smiles. The smile we haven’t seen in years.”
[Here's a look at the post-award ruckus surrounding Robert Snyder and his family -- complete with 2008 and 2009 "Back On The Road" winners and country mucis legend Aaron Tippin.]
Well, Robert is smiling now – and crying as well, with tears of joy, I suspect – as he’s the 2010 winner of Arrow’s contest, taking home a 2007 Volvo VNL 670, courtesy of Volvo Trucks North America, along with a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express and a whole host of other products and services.
“Robert is like so many drivers we see on the road today,” noted Carl Heikel, president and CEO of Arrow Truck Sales. “He is a good man, who is passionate about trucking and providing for his family. He is doing everything he can to make it through the recession. We are proud to give him this opportunity of a lifetime to not only change his life but the lives of his wife, Sylvia, daughter, Savannah, and their family.”
Snyder’s financial problems mirror those of so many other drivers in this industry, starting two years ago when diesel fuel prices skyrocketed to over $5 a gallon, followed by the onset of the worst global economic recession in decades. As loads became scarce, Snyder found the career he loved no longer provided for his single income family.
With more than 1.5 million miles on the odometer of his 14-year old truck, he started staying out two and sometimes three months at a time to make money.
He neglected engine and transmission problems and left his broken air conditioning unfixed as he made sure what little funds he earned went back to the house.
“Loads kept getting shorter and short, and the checks got smaller and smaller, but the bills didn’t stop – they just kept coming,” he said.
Savannah hated seeing what the financial stress was doing to her dad, so she looked for ways to help. One day, while flipping through a trucking magazine, she stumbled on a story about the “Back On The Road” contest, and immediately set to work nominating her father for the honor.
And wouldn’t you know it – her entry caught the eyes of Arrow Truck Sales staffers and eventually made her dad a winner.
Now, Snyder’s got a good chance not just to stay in the business of trucking, but to get back into the black as well. “This is a dream come true,” he said. “Driving is my life and I am blessed to have this opportunity.”
Good luck to you Robert, and to your family. Let’s hope – like Dave Nemo said – this opportunity helps you get your life back.