James & Rhonda Hale Would Rather Be HomeAugust 4, 2017
David & Stephanie Ponder Are Back At Baggett. This Time, For Good.August 7, 2017
An Owner Operator team that’s made the best of every challenge.
Chapter One: Time For A Change
In 2009, Mark Thompson was running a successful structural steel drafting business. By 2011, the construction industry was in a free fall, his employees were gone, and he was burned-out. Which is exactly how Mark’s wife Kathy was feeling about her own career, after eight years as a paramedic.
That’s when Mark’s cousin, Randy Dennis, convinced the couple to consider a career in trucking. The timing was right. Married since 1984, their kids were grown and out of the house — so they both earned their licenses and signed-on with U.S. Xpress.
Not long afterward, Randy convinced the couple to follow him to the small Northeastern-based military hauler where he worked. Life was good.
Chapter Two: Family First
True to his nature, Mark has only positive things to say about the previous company. “But we had a situation come-up. Our son is in the military, and his wife abandoned him and our year-old grandson. He needed our help.”
Which meant, of course, that Mark and Kathy could no longer meet the demands of life as Company Drivers. “So we bought a truck and signed on as Owner Operators at another company. We were there for one month, and it was not for us.”
Enter Baggett. “We’ve been here for about a year and five months, and we love the freedom we have now. The people are a lot more relaxed, and we don’t run nearly so many miles. Lately we’ve been alternating two weeks on the road and one week off. That gives us the time we need to help with our grandson. We’ve got the freedom to choose the loads we want, and we’re still earning decent money.”
What’s more, they’re now part of a new extended family. “Since we serve a lot of the same military bases, we get to see other Baggett drivers pretty regularly.” (Including cousin Randy—who followed Mark & Kathy to Baggett shortly after he saw how well they were doing.) “We really enjoy spending time with the other drivers. Last weekend we cooked-out with Scott and Darlene Carter, and had dinner with them in their truck.”
Mark and Kathy, who themselves have been thinking about a new truck with upgraded living quarters, liked what they saw. “When we saw Scott and Darlene’s, we thought, ‘This is the way to go.’ Sure, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it.”
Chapter Three: A Higher Calling?
During his years as a commercial draftsman, Mark earned a degree in ministry—and moonlighted as a pastor for several small Assembly of God churches. One of five children raised by a single mom, he has two brothers serving as pastors at their own churches.
cake by kathyKathy, on the other hand, has been developing a gift of her own. “She loves to make fancy cakes,” says Mark, “like you see on TV.” It’s a skill she first picked-up from Mark’s mother—then refined while working at a bakery owned by a friend from church. (Be sure to click on the photo at left to enlarge!)
Naturally, Mark is careful about sharing his faith on the road. “Truckers are a different breed. I don’t force myself on others, but I can still be the kind of man who makes people think, ‘Hey, that guy is different.’ And when I get the chance, I’m happy to share my faith.”
So would Mark consider re-entering the ministry? “If that door opens again.” One thing’s for certain: If the opportunity comes calling, he’ll know just how to answer.
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