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September 12, 2020 8:00 AM, EDT
James Rogers, Spartan Direct

'Living in an 8-by-8 box for Six Months'

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Saluting the men and women of the trucking industry who kept America's essential goods flowing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Profiles: Peter Lacoste | Susan Dawson | James Rogers | Cesar Quintana Moreno | Reggie Barrows | Kevin Cooper 

 

An Army veteran who is used to serving his country, James Rogers rose to the occasion again by delivering essential relief supplies and covering for a colleague who came down with the virus. Read more of Rogers' story here.

“The thing was, I was always scared to go home, and it was mainly because of the virus. I have a wife, a child, a grandson in the house and I am just like, the asymptomatic carrier was the biggest concern, and I have literally been in almost every epicenter, I don’t want to take that crap home you know.”

Hi, I’m Marissa Gamache of Transport Topics, and this is Trucking’s Frontline Heroes, the series that spotlights the men and women who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep America’s essential goods flowing during the coronavirus pandemic. Today we introduce you to James Rogers, owner of Missouri-based trucking company Spartan Direct. When the country started closing in March, Rogers and his team of three drivers stepped up and answered the call, delivering emergency supplies to Salt Lake City and Seattle, nearly nonstop. Take a look at his story.

“All together, I mean personally I stayed out from the beginning of the pandemic to just the beginning of August is when I finally went home. I had enough, mentally, emotionally, I had enough. I mean, I'd been living in an 8-by-8 box for six months.”

In those six months, Rogers and his company withstood a number of headwinds, including fluctuating freight market rates and the constant fear of infection. One of his contract drivers did come down with the virus in late May, but has since recovered. These challenges have led Rogers to believe that the old normal might not be normal again.

“All together, COVID-19 has changed not only the face of this country, I mean it has changed the face of how we do with trucking.”

Rogers is an Army veteran who credits his time in the military with teaching him the value of service. After suffering a broken back during combat in Afghanistan, the Army discharged him. These days, Rogers manages his PTSD with the help of a service dog named Sergeant, who accompanies him on routes. The trucking industry, he said, gave his life purpose again, and that purpose made the difference in his transition back to civilian life.

“You know just one day I said, 'You know, I got to change, something in my life has to change.' And that is when I decided to get back into driving, because to me driving is a direct parallel to the military. Even the sucky days I enjoy it, I do. I’ve got the greatest office view.”

James Rogers is just one of several industry heroes we're spotlighting in our new special section devoted to Trucking’s Frontline Heroes. Make sure to check out the others at ttn.ws/heroes. I’m Marissa Gamache, we’ll see you next time.