Paul Davis | Hauler | Mountain Area
Come rain, shine or blizzard-like conditions, Colorado-native Paul Davis is always on the road, but he says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
During his 21 years as a milk hauler for Dairy Farmers of America and its predecessor cooperative, Western Dairymen Cooperative, Inc. (WDCI), Davis has logged more than 1.5 million miles. Today, he transports milk from Mountain Area members’ farms to DFA’s ingredients facility in Fort Morgan, Colo.
“I love to drive. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” Davis says. “I get paid to do something I’d choose to do anyway, but it goes beyond that. It’s also the dairy producers I work with. I’ve been friends with a lot of them for 20 years. I really can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Prior to accepting his current position, Davis worked as a driver for Robinson Dairy in Denver, Colo., for one year. But soon after, he and his wife, Joyce, started a family. Davis says they wanted to raise their children outside of the city.
As fate would have it, Davis met a lease operator with WDCI in 1992 who was looking for a full-time driver.
“At the time, my parents owned a gas station and were selling fuel to this gentleman,” Davis says. “They knew my wife and I were hoping to relocate before our kids started school, so they put me in touch with him. Since I already had my endorsements, the transition was fairly easy.”
Upon accepting the job with WDCI, Davis spent a day training for his new position.
“I learned quickly that it’s an interesting experience,” he says. “Milk is not like any other product on the road. As a hauler, it’s hard work, but rewarding work.”
When he first began hauling, farms ranged between 16 and 24 cows. The smallest dairy he picks up now has 375 head, he says.
And like the cows, which are milked at least twice a day and on holidays, milk haulers are on the road, transporting milk seven days week, 365 days a year. For Davis, holidays are just another day during the week.
“Since Christmas fell on a Tuesday this year, I was scheduled to work,” he says. “But I don’t think about it as I’m working on Christmas. For me, it’s just another Tuesday until I’m done with work. And fortunately, my kids grew up with me in the business, so they knew Christmas for us always fell on whatever day I had off.”
On average, Davis spends 10 to 12 hours on a four-day-on, two-day-off schedule, hauling milk from two to three members’ farms per shift. His routes vary as well. While one member’s farm is only 5.5 miles from the Fort Morgan plant, Davis also travels more than 5½ hours roundtrip to Burlington, Colo., for milk pick-up.
Each year, he collects between 4 and 5 million gallons of milk on average. And since he spends so much time on the road, Davis says he keeps the radio tuned to talk radio to pass the time.
In addition to the pride he feels when working with producers, Davis says he’s proud of his strong work ethic. During his 21-year career, he’s only missed one day of work, which was due to a blizzard.
“After about 10 years, every day on the job became a point of pride,” he says. “I think my attendance just goes to show how much I enjoy the job.”
Haulers in the Mountain Area recently began using mobile handheld devices to speed up and validate the collection of data transactions on members’ farms. Since using the new technology, Davis says he’s saving time by logging his information electronically.