178: John, Marilyn and The Bandit: A Story of a Successful Owner-Operator Couple

This week on the Oakley Podcast, host Jeremy Kellett chats with John and Marilyn McCormick. John is an Owner-Operator at Oakley while his wife Marilyn also spent part of her career as a driver in the industry. During this conversation, John and Marilyn share their experiences in the trucking industry. John, who followed in his father’s footsteps, started as a company driver in 1996 before becoming an owner-operator in 2007. The couple discusses the freedom and responsibility of trucking, the challenges of being a truck driver’s spouse, misconceptions about truck drivers, the importance of the trucking industry, and more. 

Key topics in today’s conversation include:

  • John and Marilyn’s background in the trucking industry (2:32)
  • Becoming an Owner-Operator (7:40)
  • John making the decision to join Oakley (9:51)
  • Passion for driving  (11:27)
  • Marilyn Deciding to get a CDL (13:07)
  • Challenges of being a truck driver’s spouse (15:43)
  • Driving “The Bandit” (24:06)
  • Misconceptions about Truck Drivers (25:32)
  • The Importance of the Trucking Industry (27:28)

Oakley Trucking is a family-owned and operated trucking company headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. For more information, check out our show website: podcast.bruceoakley.com.


John McCormick  00:13

I leased it to the company that I’m striving for and the printing company that we hold the ink for, they filed bankruptcy. So they lost their contract. Well, then I found out real quick that an owner operator and with a bunch of company trucks, guess who can sit?

Jeremy Kellett  00:31

Yeah, you get in the last load? Yeah. If there’s one.

John McCormick  00:35

So they kept telling me oh, it’s gonna get better, it’s gonna get better and I stuck it out for about six months, which was about five months too long. And then I got to looking around for other companies and I came here.

Jeremy Kellett  00:49

Welcome to the Oakley podcast, trucking, business, and family. This show is brought to you by Oakley Trucking, headquartered in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The purpose of this podcast is to communicate with Oakley owner-operators and their families by giving them up-to-date information concerning Oakley Trucking and the trucking industry. From business advice to safety updates to success stories. Also to give an inside to outside truck drivers that might be interested in joining the Oakley family. Hi, this Jeremy Kellett, Director of recruiting here at Oakley trucking and I’m your host for this podcast. This is the Oakley podcast, trucking, business and family. And once again, we are here on a Wednesday bringing you some new content a another new episode of the LP podcast and I’ll tell you what we we’ve had some really good ones here lately, we’ve been able to sit down with some of our owner operators, which is I think, are some of the best episodes that we have because you get to hear it straight from them their experiences and it’s not just about Oakley trucking and promoting Oakley, I don’t want you to think that. I mean, it’s about promoting truck drivers and successful ones at that and hearing their story. And I think it resonates with our listeners because they can compare themselves to, you know, some owner operators. I just don’t think there’s enough good stories out there about truck drivers and independent contractors. And some of the stuff we’re trying to do here at Oakley. I mean, we want truck drivers and owner operators to to have a positive image in trucking companies, you know, because there’s too much negative out there about trucking companies, truck drivers and the stigma that they have and, and you see billboards everywhere and commercials everywhere and being hit by a truck driver, you know, call me that kind of stuff. And, you know, we’re not all bad. You know, not all trucking companies. Not all truck drivers are bad. Matter of fact, the majority of them are really good and have a good, good positive attitude. They have a huge responsibility. As a truck driver to drive up and down these roads in the United States. There’s a whole lot to that.

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Jeremy Kellett  03:29

This is you know, this is another one of our episodes. I’m sitting down with John and Marilyn McCormack, they’ve been our operators with Oakley for years. Got them in here? Not very willingly, but we got him in here and he wants to hear their story of you know, basically their success story as being an independent contractor. So appreciate you guys sitting down with me and may drilling you with some questions and you answering some of them and I’ll send them to you a little earlier. So you could kind of be familiar with it. But basically this is just a set down to hear your story. I am interested in owner operators, particularly Oakley owner operators of Helios. You know how you started out but first of all get into that. So, John and Marilyn McCormack, where y’all live. Roberts Kentucky award Kentucky how long you’ve been married?

Marilyn McCormick  04:23

Going on? 25 years.

John McCormick  04:24

25 years.

Jeremy Kellett  04:26

Nice. Kids. I think you told me prior. I have to Okay. All right. And the grown and gone

Marilyn McCormick  04:34

grown and gone. Right? Yeah, grandkids. Got a new great grand baby on the way

Jeremy Kellett  04:40

really? Congratulations. Thank you. That’s good. They all live close to where you get to see everybody. That makes a big difference. Also, we’ll touch on the bandit because I think y’all are kind of Port celebrities now washed with this truck that you’ve got that it’s been in. It’s been in a couple of several truck shows and you want some awards with it. I mean, I saw matter of fact, John, I watched a YouTube video yesterday or I listened to it, I guess is what it was with you was an overdraft. Yeah. Yeah. Delusional. You’ve already made YouTube. Yeah. I mean, this is nothing new for you. So, anyway, we’ll talk about that truck a little bit, too. But first, tell our listeners. How did you get started in trucking? Is it in a family?

John McCormick  05:33

Is it in the family? Yes, my father drove. And from a very young age. I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I just enjoyed it. Yeah. You know, whenever I was a kid, you know, when I read, I would get up and go to school. I didn’t want to get up in the morning. But during the summer time, if Ned said he was leaving at three o’clock, I was up at 230. So I go with

Jeremy Kellett  05:56

him. And he’s done it for a long time to

John McCormick  06:01

oh, he’s, I don’t? Well, I’m 4049. I just turned 49 years old. So as long as I can remember who

Jeremy Kellett  06:11

we should get him in here, too. I mean, think about

Marilyn McCormick  06:13

the case down babysitting bandit. Wizzy. Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  06:17

So when do you start driving?

John McCormick  06:19

Nanny six. How old were you? I was 21. Or just turn up turn 21 In October, when I got my permit and started driving full time and 96 because I was working on trucks working in a shop for the same guy that worked for. And when I got my permit, he had one driver that would go from down to Springfield, Tennessee every day. And that’s all he did. He just ran down a ratbag. So I’d get up in the morning and I’d go with him. He’d let me drive down, drop back till I got, you know, where I go to take tests and all that. And then once I did get my CDL I basically worked on trucks all day, and I drove all night. Really? Yeah. And

Jeremy Kellett  07:15

well, you did love it, then

John McCormick  07:17

Well, they got real, they got tiring real fast. So then I decided I got to do one or the other. And I decided I wanted to drive. So I started driving. Let’s talk about that. 96 lockout.

Jeremy Kellett  07:32

Okay, so you did that. I mean, you’ve been driving ever since. But yeah. When did you become an owner operator?

John McCormick  07:39

Oh seven.

Jeremy Kellett  07:42

So you got driver all the time before the

John McCormick  07:44

company driver all that time. At the time, I was working for a company at key Illinois, we held printing ink, and how I lowered Peterbilt data one day and I got talking to the salesman and I bought a truck and then I went home and told her about a truck. That didn’t go over

Jeremy Kellett  08:08

bid. Because y’all probably just got married and we hadn’t been married long. No. It was an O seven. Yeah. And he bought you two. What was your first truck?

John McCormick  08:18

It was an old three 379 Peterbilt.

Jeremy Kellett  08:22

We still had it. Yes, that’s a way Yes, man arm Ireland with trucks and stuff.

Marilyn McCormick  08:26

He tells me that all the time. I wish I had never sold. Oh no,

Jeremy Kellett  08:29

I say that about my 1998 GMC pickup. The first one I’ve ever bought. I was like, I wish I still had it. But anyway, so baccio came home and told her they can go over well.

John McCormick  08:44

No, I didn’t go over too well, but she was fine with it after a little while. And but how much choice Did

Jeremy Kellett  08:53

Did you know what she’s gonna do with it? I mean, we’re gonna go work for the same guy. Yeah. mechanic and for

John McCormick  08:59

Well, no. Are we driving forward? Yeah. Yeah, at the time I listened to the company that I was driving for. Okay. And it’s about the middle of eight, the company, the printing company that we hold the ink for? They filed bankruptcy. So they lost their contract. Well, then I found out real quick that you know, an owner operator with a bunch of company trucks. Guess who can sit?

Jeremy Kellett  09:26

Yeah, you get in the last load? Yeah. If there’s one so

John McCormick  09:30

They kept telling me it’s gonna get better, it’s gonna get better and I stuck it out for about five months or about six months, which was about five months too long. And then I got to looking around for other companies and I came here.

Jeremy Kellett  09:51

So you started here. How long have you been here? Well, you’re

Marilyn McCormick  09:53

to Bennett first. Odd.

John McCormick  09:57

No, not after a moment.

Marilyn McCormick  10:00

Oh, that was before Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  10:03

How long have y’all been here?

John McCormick  10:04

14 years.

Jeremy Kellett  10:06

What do you start out with to pull them down? Okay.

John McCormick  10:09

Why don’t you do that for 18 months?

Jeremy Kellett  10:12

Okay, then you went to pneumatic pneumatic been doing that ever since NASS

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Jeremy Kellett  11:06

What do you enjoy most about being a truck driver? I mean, it’s gotta be challenging. I was talking to somebody else about this. And it’s gotta be a challenging job. And you gotta love it because you do so much of it. Driving, you know,

John McCormick  11:22

I used to tell her all the time whenever we first got together. Driving a truck was a hobby for me. Of course, the older I get the more of a job. But I don’t know, I guess not having somebody looking over your shoulder checking your work constantly. Yeah, because whenever I was a mechanic in the shop, you know, the owner was constantly coming back here. Why did you do this? Once you do that, you know? And oh, can’t we do this differently? You know? I even told him one time you want it fixed or you want a bandaid on it, you know? Go back up front. Leave me alone.

Jeremy Kellett  12:03

So driving a truck gives you that freedom. Yeah. Where do you report to yourself? Yeah, I mean, basically, you know, when it comes to driving a truck, you’re responsible for driving down the interstate driving down the road? Yeah.

John McCormick  12:15

Yeah, I mean, call into dispatch, you know, they give me a load. With me, you know, I talked to a dispatcher once a day. Generally, of course rat at all, you know, I’m doing Zipline. So she knows what I’m doing. As long as I get the job done. So I’ll be

Jeremy Kellett  12:35

Merlin was talking on the way up here. You used to drive? Yes. When was this during this time? So you didn’t drive here? Did you know? Okay.

Marilyn McCormick  12:46

I drove you

Jeremy Kellett  12:48

Were you driving when he was a company driver? Somewhere?

Marilyn McCormick  12:52

Yes. We were driving for Bennett of Owensboro, Kentucky. And he, I worked at the school system. It’s Tom. I’ve been there for 10 years.

Jeremy Kellett  13:04

So what made you decide to get your CDL? Hey, did,

Marilyn McCormick  13:07

I had quit the school system and was just riding with him. And he made enough money to pay our bills and all that, but we really didn’t have anything extra. And he said, I kept going, I need to get a job. I need to get a job. He’s like, I’d be interested to say, I can’t drive a truck. He said, Why can’t you? I said I’m scared. Hey, so why are you scared of us? Is it 70,000 pounds or 80,000 pounds? 70 feet long. That pretty much wraps it up? Yes. So he taught me to go to truck driving school and I got my CDL and I drove until my parents got in worse health than I didn’t want to because we’d go coast to coast. We stayed out six and eight weeks at a time. And I didn’t want to be on the east coast or the west coast and get a phone call that something had happened and I couldn’t get there quick enough. So I came out of the trip. Never wanted to get back in it. I’m not gonna say I never wanted to get back into that I never did now. My dad lived to be 97. He’s been gone now for five years. The last three and a half years of his life. He lived with us. So

Jeremy Kellett  14:23

That’s awesome. Well, good. I mean, you know that these two have currently kept up your city. You know, you ready to go?

Marilyn McCormick  14:33

Yeah, by accident, actually. Oh, I had to get my license renewed. And I forgot to get my medical card before I went. And they say well, you’ve got a year to get it. Now I just forgot about it.

Jeremy Kellett  14:47

Never did. I don’t think you’re gonna need it anyway. Do you get John? I mean, John, like living for yourself? Well, that’s good. He spent some time in the truck together, you know, driving 10 meetings together in a confined space is going to be a challenge in a marriage. I’ve had

Marilyn McCormick  15:07

people to say, how can you stand being in that little cubicle with your husband? 24/7? I said, Well, I’m not gonna say there hasn’t been times that I’d gone to the bank and closed the curtains and, you know. So for the most part, we get along really well. And it’s never really an issue.

Jeremy Kellett  15:30

How, just to get off on that too, because leading into that I’ve been married for 25 years. I mean, how hard is it being the wife of a truck driver?

Marilyn McCormick  15:42

You’ve got to love it. You’ve got to trust him.

Jeremy Kellett  15:45

What some of the challenges

Marilyn McCormick  15:49

you know, things happen and at home, he’s gone. You don’t know how to fix it. You don’t know who to call, you know, that kind of thing. When there’s an unexpected event to happen, like we’ve just experienced in our family, you know, luckily, you know what he does? Now he’s home every night. For the most part, but being away, you know? Yeah, I can imagine it. Like when my mom passed. Good example. He was driving for our CD at the time at a king key. And when my mom passed, he was I’ve just got up their pickup truck. Yeah. So he was up around the key. And he had to drive all the way home. And he knew I needed it.

Jeremy Kellett  16:40

Yeah, so that’s hard. Yeah, sure. Anytime you have any tragedies or, you know, stuff, it’s, that’s when it really means a lot. Yeah. But you know, you have to be supportive.

Marilyn McCormick  16:51

And you have to if you’re gonna be married to a truck driver, you have to trust one another. Yes. 100%.

Jeremy Kellett  17:03

Even if it’s not a trophy, yeah. Yes. Yes. Yeah. That works both ways. Yes. Yeah. I agree with it for sure. Oakley Trucking is a 100% Owner Operator company. We specialize in Hopper, bottom and dump and pneumatic drivers. We provide the trailer free of charge and you provide the truck. We have a large customer base that reaches the whole United States as well as parts of Canada. Our owner operators live anywhere from Texas to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Wisconsin and everywhere in between and we get them home weekends. We take it seriously when you join Oakley trucking because we need you to be successful. Oakley offers great benefits and a competitive mileage base. So you know that when your wheels are turning, you’re generating money. No matter if you’re loaded or empty. We understand that you want to make a good living and that you make our living. We only take on independent contractors and to be honest with you, we are very particular on who we lease on. You must have a good driving record, good work history, and a clean, dependable truck. So if you’re interested in Oakley trucking or just wants more information, you can go to Oakley trucking.com. Listen to our weekly podcast, the Oakley podcast and subscribe to our YouTube channel. How’s the industry changed jobs and she’d been in and new to my own? I mean, you drove to I mean, what’s the biggest change you face? Biggest challenges?

John McCormick  18:29

Well, there’s been a lot of changes since I started. Right? You know, I’ve been through I think three hours of service changes all the emission stuff but I don’t know I guess the Yeah, the biggest one probably be the just getting used to haul the new technology to the ELD and you know how for years I don’t know one way and what was

Jeremy Kellett  18:58

that one way well that incriminate yourself

John McCormick  19:06

probably at least 10 or 15 vacations a year? I’ll just because times and stuff didn’t match up. So I was like, man, I was off duty all week.

Jeremy Kellett  19:21

And I had so that’s why there’s rules. Because of my job well, there’s been a lot of changes, you know, for sure. We all had to adapt to companies and truck drivers a lot. But what about the everyday challenges of driving by ending up down the road?

John McCormick  19:39

Oh, that would make traffic worse over the years. It just seemed like it tripled. And just trying to avoid people.

Jeremy Kellett  19:51

They’re not nearly as courteous as they used to be. Well,

John McCormick  19:55

seems like most people the more they get their phone you know, they’re texting are passing one guy had his phone strapped to her? I guess he had velcro to a steering wheel watching a movie or football game or something going down a road and I’m thinking

Jeremy Kellett  20:13

something that happens in a big truck or in a regular vehicle I’ve

John McCormick  20:17

seen both things well. Yeah,

Jeremy Kellett  20:22

That’s scary. That is scary. Yeah, those cell phones have just that’s a whole nother episode. They’ve created a monster. Oh, it’s people, you know, they

John McCormick  20:32

they are good and why but yeah, but then again, yeah, just like things like that. You know? I think Hey, surely the technologies are there that whenever it detects movement that should just shut completely off and you know, yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  20:49

What are some of the interesting experiences you’ve experienced on the road? Anything in particular you remember? Oh, I’m sure you say crazy stuff all the time.

John McCormick  21:01

Say crazy stuff all the time.

Marilyn McCormick  21:03

Say things you shouldn’t ever say

Jeremy Kellett  21:07

that you can say

Marilyn McCormick  21:08

that I can’t say I would rather forget about

Jeremy Kellett  21:13

it but a lot of your stuff is just near misses you know accidents almost happening or accidents that happened I guess I

Marilyn McCormick  21:24

had a near miss not too long ago.


Oh, yeah. What was it?

John McCormick  21:30

Oh, Danner by where I live we’re a park truck at a crossroad just up from Meijer that comes off the interstate and took off one morning headed up to the plant yeah about Tama atop the hill which probably about 500 feet from the intersection truck deciding just pull right out in front of and so yeah, add lock brakes I was prosecuting the car from safety on the app and I guess I didn’t trip the

Jeremy Kellett  22:04

I lock it up. There’s a lot of near misses I’m sure out there.

Marilyn McCormick  22:09

He showed me the dash cam video and it was close.

Jeremy Kellett  22:15

So y’all have been fairly assuming success being truck drivers. I think a lot of people don’t understand that. You know, I mean it without getting into numbers or stuff but aren’t financially stable when it comes to driving a truck. Do you feel comfortable?

John McCormick  22:34

Yeah, probably not as comfortable as I should be. But

Jeremy Kellett  22:38

homeless because you spent it all on your truck. Yeah. Did I say that?

Marilyn McCormick  22:43

You did at my job the other day. He used to drive a truck and he said he’s probably put more money in that truck than he paid for it. And I said, well, not quite but he’s probably getting close.

Jeremy Kellett  22:57

So let’s talk about the truck. Tell me about the story on the truck. Well, you got a it’s a

John McCormick  23:05

2020 21 Kenworth, that’d be 900 And which actually is not the truck that I was looking at the one I was looking at was blue and silver and but they sold it before I get the deposit put down on it yeah which I bought it three MHC out a Springfield and but he told me he said no worries. He said I got 26 Other ones. He said What color do you want? Of course I love movies, especially trucking movies. I’ve seen them all and have probably got most of them. And I was like well, Humpday black go wound him Dallas. So yeah, he’s no problem but deposit down on it. He brought it up here and now has just been fixing it ever since.

Jeremy Kellett  24:05

So it Yeah, I mean, because you entered the truck show at Louisville. For with us cups. Two years have been twice right? Yeah. And you had added? I mean, you called it the bandit. I guess because of the movie. Yeah. Yeah, that’s why you picked it goes on the cover, I guess to go with that.

John McCormick  24:32

Actually, not whenever, of course I hadn’t thought about the name for it until I entered the truck show on pit one and asked for a name. And about a day or two before somehow going down a road and two or three people said she is going to bandit or they’re going to snowman. So I thought okay, bandit, man.

Jeremy Kellett  24:55

That’s a good night for me.

Marilyn McCormick  24:57

Yeah, that’s ahead of double meanings. Well, you

John McCormick  24:59

Yeah, that tape. Ma, my little Yorkie that we had for 16 years. You know his name spanned it.

Jeremy Kellett  25:06

Oh, well it fits perfectly. That

Marilyn McCormick  25:08

was our little trapping buddy. Anywhere we went

John McCormick  25:12

he grew up and

Jeremy Kellett  25:14

no kidding. Yep. 16 years long down. Yeah. You got another one now? Run in trouble we

John McCormick  25:24

now don’t have one in Triclopyr now

Marilyn McCormick  25:28

that they’re at home. Yeah, there’s

Jeremy Kellett  25:30

plenty of Oh. Okay. Anything else you’d like to add? I was just thinking if we covered all the questions. You know, the last one, some, some misconceptions that people have about truck drivers that you would like to clarify

John McCormick  25:48

that we’re not pun educated or not skilled

Jeremy Kellett  25:52

at man. Yeah. That’s, that’s what most people think. Yeah, it is. That’s the stigma. Yeah. I mean, I can remember when I was a teenager, and young thinking that Well, I can always get a CDL if I can’t figure out how to do anything. Surely I can be a truck driver. I don’t know where I got that thinking from, you know, when I was that age, but I guess it was just a society. You just, that’s, that’s what it was, is like, the last thing to do is drive a truck. And that is so wrong. Yeah, it is so wrong to think like that. Because, yeah, that I’m into it. You know, I see so many successful people and smart people. And I mean, it’s something that they’ve got us in and I’ve got us all fooled. You know, you think that truck drivers, you know, are not educated and know that is the only thing they can do. Man that is so far from the truth. Hey, there’s fun. So far from the truth.

John McCormick  27:03

I met a guy one time. I don’t remember where I was. I had been air for air, but he was telling me I was talking truckstop or something he was talking about, you know, his PhD and I’m like, yep, PhD. Why are you doing this love? Yep. Yeah.

Jeremy Kellett  27:22

So that’s the first law that was doors. Yeah.

Marilyn McCormick  27:28

All right. I don’t realize how important Trucking is either. But once you make Maryland they don’t realize that everything literally comes in on a trip one way or the other. Everything

Jeremy Kellett  27:40

I mean it is they whether it’s a you know, whether it’s a big Amazon driver, you know, well, it had to get to that wherever they picked it up at truck meeting anything you can think of feel delivered by truck it had. It’s everything and then it just makes you you know,

Marilyn McCormick  28:06

I heard a woman say, Well, I’ll just go to Walmart and get all my groceries. Well, I think you think all those groceries got to Walmart.

Jeremy Kellett  28:14

She got some drugs down and we’ll see where you go. That’s true. I mean, it’s something you know, that is not appreciated enough. Truck drivers. But hey, we at Oakley appreciate you guys. Being here.

Marilyn McCormick  28:28

We appreciate Oakley

Jeremy Kellett  28:30

i’ve been here a long time. You’ve been successful, your great success story. Not only yourself financially, the bandit but your marriage. I mean, it’s just a testament to everybody out there that it can be done. And absolutely, it can be done. So, thanks for sitting down with me. Anything else you’d like to add? We cover most of it.

John McCormick  28:53

I think it’s a pretty good deal.

Jeremy Kellett  28:55

We got to get on with the programming. All right. Well, thank you. I appreciate it by everybody listening to the Oakley podcast once again. You know it’s you listeners out there that make this thing go and truck drivers. I’m gonna tell you what you know, you think about it. Maryland talking about everything he brought by truck. You know, that needs to register with everybody because it’s a big deal. And it’s the truth. We need to thank some truck drivers out here every day. Be respectful of him on the road and give them plenty of distance because if you’ve never driven one, then don’t stop in front of them, don’t pull out in front of them. You’ve got to give them some leeway. Going down the highway is a very challenging profession and it is a profession and they are professionals doing it with respect to truck drivers, and trucking companies. And once again, we’ll come. I had to do some new content and episodes in the coming weeks and as always appreciate y’all listening to the Oakley podcast and we’ll talk to you next week. Thanks. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Oakley podcast: trucking, business, and family. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to rate or review the show on the podcast platform of your choice and share it with a friend. We love hearing from our audience, so if you’ve got a question, comment, or just want to say hello, head over to our website, theoakleypodcast.com, and click the “leave a comment” button. We’ll get you a response soon and may even share some of the best ones here on the show. We’ll be back with a fresh episode very soon. Thanks for listening.