After 30 years, woman milk
truck driver still enjoys career
Nancy Dick is no stranger to milk truck driving. It has been her occupation for just over 30 years.
Believe it or not, it's even the job she always knew she wanted to do. In fifth grade, her teacher asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Dick proudly announced, "a milk truck driver." The other kids laughed at her. But sure enough this is exactly what she would go on to pursue.
Dick grew up on a 70-cow dairy farm near Medford, where her family milked mainly Holsteins with a few Guernseys in the mix. In addition to farming, they also owned five milk trucks.
"Originally, I wanted to be an over-the-road truck driver," said Dick. "But Dad needed help and said I could run the route if I thought I could handle it."
Thirty years later Dick owns three of her own trucks including a brand new seven-axle 2012 Peterbilt Glider. She bought it as a rolling chassis and then had it assembled.
Her new purchase was due to high mileage on the two other trucks. With nearly 900,000 miles on each, it was time to upgrade. The new truck fits about 50,500 pounds of milk.
With her trucks, she is in charge of two routes. One is through National Farmers Organization (NFO) in the Ashland area while the other is through Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) in the Medford area.
Dick drives the NFO route and hires one other full-time driver to drive the DFA route. She also has six substitute drivers.
On a typical day Dick leaves from Medford around 5 a.m. "I always tell everyone I take Highway 13 north to the water and take a left," laughed Dick about the long trip. Her drive is approximately 300 miles round trip while the actual milk pickup driving distance is only about 50-60 miles.
One day she has only five farm stops and on the alternating day she'll have eleven. At about 4:30 p.m. she will drop the milk off at either Saputo in Almena or Foremost Farms in Milan.
Dick tries to take one to two days off a week but much like farming she still may end up doing something such as paperwork or getting parts. She has been running the NFO route for six and a half years.
In a male-dominated occupation she feels her biggest challenge has been being taken seriously. "Once the farmers get to know me, talk to me and realize I know what I'm doing, they're ok with me," said Dick.
Other than that, challenges are few and far between for her. "I grew up in the situation," said Dick. "When you're born and raised in it, it's easy to do."
Her favorite part of the job is working with the farmers. "You kind of become family," she said. She's enjoyed watching the families grow up.
She dislikes the traffic that comes along with truck driving. While it sometimes gets tiresome driving so far up north Dick says she keeps awake just watching for deer, skunks, bears and all the other critters.
Dick's new truck includes a special tribute to her father. A sticker of the first bulk milk truck he owned in 1958 is attached to each side of her truck along with the phrase, "This one's for you Dad."