UPS Inc.
Ups 1 6321c19d719d6

Father-daughter team drivers take family life on the road

Sept. 16, 2022
UPS tractor-trailer drivers Jim and Raquel Sanchez are the company's first father-daughter sleeper team on the West Coast. Jim has provided for his family of five with trucking, and the two share excitement in continuing that legacy.

Many truckers lament the time spent away from loved ones, but Jim and Raquel Sanchez don’t have to as they take family on the road. Three months ago, the two became permanent partners as the first UPS father-daughter sleeper team on the West Coast, making every day Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.

Jim Sanchez has been driving UPS tractor-trailers for 27 years, domiciled in Ontario, California. Twelve of those years have been as a team driver, but Jim says it hits him differently being woken up from the sleeper, not with “Hey, Jim!” but with “Hey, dad!”

“What a way to get woken up, by my daughter calling me dad,” Jim told FleetOwner. “I still get a chuckle out of it every time I hear her voice.”

“I never expected my little girl to be my sleeper team partner,” he said. “Having Raquel as my driving partner is the highlight of my career.”

Raquel, the second of five children, has been driving tractor-trailers for UPS since February, although she first started driving trucks in 2011 during her service for her country in the National Guard. She said her dad is the perfect trainer because he already knows her.

“He is the best kind of mentor to have,” Raquel said, “because he already knows all my weaknesses and my strengths.”

Jim and Raquel haul loads in their 2022 International LT625 from Ontario to Lenexa, Kansas, before bobtailing to Santa Fe, Kansas, from where they haul a trailer to El Paso, Texas, before trekking back to California—a 3,000-mile round trip.

Jim and Raquel’s family were ecstatic when they heard the two would be working together, showing nothing but support.

“Nobody was really against it or worried,” Raquel said. “My mom especially was super excited. I think she was the most excited out of all of us.”

Jim used to work retail at a shoe store and wanted a change. In 1983, he joined UPS, unloading trailers for a year and a half before being promoted to a package car driver. After a dozen years of safe driving, he came to the front of the long line of UPS drivers who wanted to make the switch to tractor-trailers. In 1997, he was on the first team of drivers to use sleeper cabs at UPS. Of about 1,200 drivers out of the UPS hub in Ontario, Jim is 12th in seniority.

Despite Jim’s dedication to his career, he always made time for his family.

“I just remember dad always being there,” Raquel said.

Jim was always a family man, making time for his children when working most weeks Sunday-Thursday, 11p.m.-9 a.m. Jim would have his wife—a full-time mother with whom he just celebrated his 37th anniversary—wake him up in the afternoons to help the kids with their homework. He would attend their extracurricular activities, including Raquel’s, who was in band.

Crediting flexible UPS hours, Jim said, “A lot of the time I was the only dad there because of my work schedule. It was a great feeling.”

Raquel said it was from watching her dad growing up that she knew what UPS could provide for her. After serving in the National Guard from 2011-2017, five years of that stationed in Virginia at the Martinville 1173rd Transportation company, she lived in Virginia until May 2019. She worked a desk job dispatching medical vehicles but had felt that she had reached the highest position she could have. She moved back to California, and when Jim told her that UPS had several driver positions open because of pandemic demand, she took the opportunity to start a new career with a potential for better pay and benefits.

Raquel also said she’s proud to represent women in a typically male-dominated industry and wants young girls to know that they can achieve anything they put their minds to.

Other relatives have joined the Sanchez family business. One of Jim’s sons is a UPS package car driver out of Palm Springs, California, and he has a son-in-law in the process of being trained as a UPS driver.

Jim is now two years away from retirement after 38 years of safe driving. Raquel expects to follow in his footsteps and, like her father, achieve a 25-year safe-driving patch.

Nearing the end of his career, Jim encourages young people to join the trucking industry, saying, “It’s a job that a lot of people don’t look at as a good career, but it is!” He noted technological advancements have made it safer and more comfortable to work behind the wheel.

Jim also underscored the importance of drivers, and the importance of them having pride in their work. “Seventy to seventy-five percent of our goods and service come out of the industry. It’s very demanding, so we have a lot of value and have a lot of pride in it. When you do that, you’ll be very proud of what you’ve accomplished at the end of the road.”

About the Author

Scott Keith

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