Owens Corning Driver Wins Awards By Demonstrating Professionalism

June 1, 2000
MIKE SCUMACI, lead driver for the Owens Corning roofing and asphalt operation in Summit, Illinois, has been at the wheel of a truck almost all of his

MIKE SCUMACI, lead driver for the Owens Corning roofing and asphalt operation in Summit, Illinois, has been at the wheel of a truck almost all of his 49 years of life-if you include the miles he spent steering while sitting on his father's lap. Even without counting his childhood, Scumaci's total miles driven during the past 30-plus years is significant. But it's the 3.5 million accident-free miles that won him not one, but two Driver of the Year awards.

PacLease, a subsidiary of Paccar Corporation, named him its 1999 Driver of the Year, and the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) named him its 2000 Driver of the Year. PacLease was so impressed with Scumaci's record that the company nominated him for the TRALA consideration.

Scumaci attributes his driving success to his father's training and advice throughout his career. And of course, no one was more proud of their son's accomplishments than his parents, August and Jeanne Scumaci. The senior Scumaci, now retired, was a veteran driver for Owens Corning at Summit, a Chicago suburb.

"My father was an inspiration," Scumaci says. "He worked hard always. I just idolized him. His family always came first. Until this day, he worries about me. He's always saying, 'When you get tired, get off the truck.' " That advice doesn't fall on deaf ears. Scumaci understands the dangers of driver fatigue and praises the comfort of the Peterbilt daycab he drives as one way to offset weariness.

"Drivers need to stop for food and take a break," he says. "There's a lot of stress with all the traffic and construction. It doesn't hurt to pull over for a nap. Sometimes you have to admit you just can't drive any farther."

The parental influence stays in place when Scumaci climbs down from the cab after a trip. His father and mother taught social responsibility to their children in both word and deed. Like the driving instructions, Scumaci took the lesson to heart. He believes in providing the best service he can while on the job and taking an active role in the community during time away from the road.

Practicing a philosophy of ongoing service, Scumaci gained customer trust. Some of the customers supply him with the keys to their facilities so he can make deliveries at any hour.

"For many years now, Mike has assumed responsibility for leading our other drivers," says Jerry Moore, plant manager at Owens Corning. "He did this without additional compensation and without being asked. He really is an elite driver. He goes out of his way to be helpful when he sees things are not right. On many occasions, Mike has initiated sales contact with customers. He has inspired customers to be loyal to our company brand."

24-Year Veteran Scumaci became an Owens Corning driver 24 years ago soon after the purchase of the Trumbull Asphalt Inc facility where his father was employed. Before joining Owens Corning, Scumaci first logged experience driving a dump truck for his brother-in-law, overseen, of course, by his father. He later moved out on his own and hauled bakery products.

Today at Owens Corning, he is assigned to haul asphalt from the company plant in Summit to customers as far away as Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Owens Corning uses two insulated E D Etnyre & Co tank trailers with aluminum shells, each with 6,500-gallon capacity. Scumaci says he has a healthy respect for the product that is maintained at 400-500 degrees F. By taking precautions such as wearing a hardhat, face shield, and steel-toed boots, he points with pride to a record of zero lost-time injuries.

In addition to the asphalt hauling, Scumaci hauls flatbed loads of packaged asphalt and shingles. The shipments take him throughout the north-central United States.

Scumaci is assigned to a 1999 Peterbilt 379 tractor with a 435-horsepower Caterpillar C10 engine and 10-speed Eaton transmission. In that tractor and others, he has logged a total of one million miles of city driving and 2.5 million miles of over-the-road driving, all accident free.

As lead driver, Scumaci helps other drivers with log books and keeps track of thetrucking operation.

Owens Corning operates two Peterbilts on full-service PacLease leases through Larsen Leasing Ltd and contracts with common carriers for the remainder of its operation. Scumaci admits to active interaction with PacLease maintenance technicians, particularly the new ones on the job.

"I'll bring in my truck and let them know about one minor problem, but I won't say anything about a related issue," he says. "I then sit back to see if the new guy catches it. I've always come away feeling confident in their ability."

Community Volunteer When Scumaci isn't demonstrating dedication and initiative at work, he is applying his parents' ideals in the community. At Christmas, Scumaci, his wife, Cheryl, and his sister, Rosemarie Luciano, collect toys and food for a needy family. Scumaci dons a Santa Claus costume and Rosemarie finds the trappings for an elf. With Cheryl directing, the families set off to enrich the holiday for others.

"Christmas is for kids," he says. "This thing that we do makes us appreciate things more. If everybody would just adopt one family, this world could change."

Scumaci also is a former volunteer baseball, basketball, and football coach. The couple has six children, ranging in age from four to 20 that include Michael, Lisa, Anthony, Matthew, Joey, and Jimmy. The eldest child, Michael, is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather as a third-generation driver for an uncle in Florida.

Of course, Scumaci has passed advice to his son just as his father did to him. "When my dad taught me to drive, he told me to drive for the other people on the road as well as myself," he recalls. "He put a face on those people on the road."

His father also offered practical advice like continual checking of the tractor and trailer equipment, vigilant use of mirrors, and pride in vehicle appearance. Scumaci believes that many drivers today lack proper training and that driving schools should improve standards. "I would advise those new drivers to slow down," he says. "As they gain experience, they can move with more confidence."

Other problems he sees are instances when companies push drivers beyond their training or capability. "Owens Corning respects your decisions," he adds. "They don't push me and they allow me to use my best judgment."

Through the years, Scumaci had his father's experience reinforced by company training and time at the wheel.

Contest Requirements That guidance paid off with the 3.5 million accident-free miles that attracted the attention of PacLease. The company reviews drivers who work for (or are leased drivers to) a full-service PacLease customer. They must have driven at least one million miles without a preventable accident or have 25,000 hours with no preventable accident and possess a three-year motor vehicle record that is clear of any moving traffic violations or compliance violations.

Nominees are reviewed by a committee composed of the PacLease Executive Committee chairman; two Paccar Corporation area managers; the Paccar Corporation risk manager; and the Paccar Corporation director of services and administration.

In addition to the core criteria, the committee evaluates nominees on the condition and care of PacLease equipment, fuel economy and performance, and community service or unusual service to the trucking industry. The awards from PacLease include a diamond ring, leather jacket, and roses for his wife. He and his wife were treated to a trip to California where he received the award.

"It was Mike's dedication and initiative which moved him to the front of a select group of very deserving drivers," says Jim Shiplet, PACCAR Leasing Corp president.

TRALA has similar qualifications for its annual winner. Drivers must be employed by a lease or rental customer, employed by that company for at least the past 12 months, and should have at least 1 million miles or 25,000 hours of driving without a chargeable accident.

Scumaci was selected by a panel from the TRALA board of directors. Capping the awards was a silver trophy and $2,000. TRALA's Driver of the Year program is sponsored by Goodyear.

J Michael Payne, TRALA president says, "Mike is everything that every corporation would want in a front-line representative to the customer: dedicated, focused on customer needs, a complete professional."

About the Author

Mary Davis