ATS Inc.'s operations manager keeps company rolling
Doug Bowie’s safety record is impeccable, but following the rules of the road isn’t what he loves about being a truck driver. Doug loves the feeling of freedom that hitting the road every day brings, whether it’s for work or fun.
“I’ve got a love for the job. I love providing a valuable service, and I love being on the road,” he said. “Even on my off time I’m hitting the road, doing something fun, and out here you get paid for running the roads.”
Doug, 52, and wife Karla are from Pineville, Louisiana. Karla is also an integral part of the ATS operations for central Louisiana. They spend their free-time riding Harleys and travelling to rock concerts, drag races and motorcycle rallies all across the southeastern U.S.
“My wife rides a ’96 Softail. I ride a 2013 Street Glide,” said Doug. Their next trip is in early April when they will head to Houston for a few days at the drag strip.
Doug has been associated with American Transport Services Inc. in Florence since 2007, before the company had its own operating authority and was still an agent for other carriers.
Doug has earned five-year safety awards from American Transport Services Inc. and American Freightways and received two driving awards from J.S. Express, a division of J.S. Logisitics.
Doug explained that his interest in trucking started in the 80s after high school.
“My uncle was an owner operator and that’s how I got interested in the business. As I continued on in high school I realized that’s what I wanted to do,” he said.
Doug owns a 1998 Freightliner Classic SL. He’s been an owner operator since 2003. He’s experienced in flatbed, tanker and van transport.
We want to thank Doug and Karla for 10 years of hard work and patience!
ATS Inc. truck driver Richard Collins stands with riding partner, "Pot-Pot" at home in Star, Mississippi before their first haul for the company.
Truth be told the operations manager for American Transport Inc. was too young to legally hold a job when he got his first role in the trucking industry, and by the sound of his southern draw it’s no surprise he’s from a place like Durant, Mississippi, where he said the first job he ever held was at a trucking company.
“I’ve been in and out of trucking since I was a kid. I started out fixing tires and washing trucks. In those days it was nothing for a 13-year-old boy to be put to work. That was about 40 years ago,” Shane said. He explained that by 18 he was driving trucks for a living.
“I drove trucks early on for a while, but dispatch and operations is what I’ve mostly done over the years,” Shane said. He keeps a sharp eye on the ever shifting demands of ATC Inc. customers and their transport needs.
Shane has been working for ATS Inc. for a year. But, his most important role now may be at home with wife Jan.
“Jan has been fighting cancer for a year. I am very proud of the way she has handled it. She has kept a great attitude the whole time,” he said.
In his free time, he likes to go boating and fishing with Jan and their boxer Shadow. They are also active members of Fondren Church in Jackson. They celebrate 39 years of marriage this Easter weekend.
American Transport Services Inc. prides itself on hiring experienced and knowledgeable brokers, sales people, drivers, administrative and marketing professionals.
The Team page is dedicated to them and is a place to show our appreciation of their hard work. These featured profiles will also be published in ATS Inc.'s Roadside News blog.
Ken Carman started driving for ATS Inc. in March of 2017 after a spiritual journey led him through tragedy to a calling that brought the dawning of peace in his life.
The 58-year-old has been truck driving since his teen years when his grandfather taught him how to drive a big rig.
“My grandfather used to take me to work with him when I went to stay with him in the summer time. He drove a truck cross country pulling a reefer unit. He was a driver his whole life. Drove till he was 75,” Carman said.
Carman said that like a lot of other guys in the trucking industry, he’s done other jobs over the years, such as carpentry and a stint in the oilfield, but he’s always come back to trucking. He said his attraction to trucking is that feeling of adventure, of seeing byways and countryside he hasn’t seen before.
“I love the freedom of being out there in the world and seeing the country side,” Carman said.
Carman is a Christian man and a family man. He was a father of five, but he tragically lost a daughter in 2012. He explained that it was during this heartbreak and his communion with God that he felt God was calling him to sing gospel music.
“I’d never sang solo before, but I couldn’t help but feel the Lord was calling me to do this,” he said.
He was semi-retired with a large carrier when he was asked by the southern gospel group, “The Riders,” of Lumberton, Mississippi to go on tour with them. He toured for about a year and a half and produced the solo album “I Believe” in the summer of 2016. Carman said the experience held many blessings in his life, including meeting his wife, Stephaney.
“I met my wife Stephaney while I was on tour singing gospel,” he said. He and Stephaney were married Jan. 29, 2016. He explains that though they are not presently with any group or on tour, they enjoy playing music together.
“She plays a mean piano! She’s not just a pretty face. She’s talented,” he said.
ATS Inc. has top logistics and trucking professionals who know the industry inside and out.
Becky Mahaffey is American Transport's office manager.
Working for ATS Inc. - like working for family
John Melton has enjoyed his journey in life thus far and plans to keep on trucking into the sunset. The 71-year-old has little intention of quitting the road. He has the energy level of a 30-year-old, so don’t let a little dust on the bottle fool you into thinking he should slow down.
John became an owner operator in 2009, soon after his retirement with a major national carrier. He started working with American Transport Services Inc. in July of 2012. John said that spending most of his career as a company driver gave him the advantage of experience.
“I certainly learned what NOT to do before I became an owner operator,” John laughs. “I’ve learned how to take care of my equipment over the years and how to not tear it up. Without your equipment, you’re nothing.”
John said he has tried a few other things here and there, for instance, he spent some time building houses with his father-in-law.
“But, trucking is what I’ve always gone back to,” John said. He has 53 years of trucking experience under his belt and says he’s not quitting anytime soon.
“This life has been good to me. I love meeting people and talking to people. I love seeing places I’ve never seen before – I’m a paid tourist! Plus, I’m always doing my own thing. There’s freedom in driving a truck, whether you’re an owner operator or company man,” John explains. “There’s no boss looking over your shoulder or telling you what to do, and you’re not tied to a desk.”
John learned how to drive trucks in March 1964. He was working for Rose Oil Co. (Phillips 66) in Yazoo City, Mississippi. He was 17 and didn’t have a driver’s license at the time.
“I was washing greasy trucks and doing some maintenance work on them, like changing tires and changing oil. I had to drive them back and forth across the lot. I was making about $70 a week,” he said.
“One day a man from a local logging company came in and asked if I wanted to make a run to Pascagoula for him. I explained to him that I would like to, but I didn’t have a license.” John said the gentleman took him to the local Department of Transportation office.
“He just told the guy behind the desk that he needed to ‘give this young man a license, we need him to go to work.’ The guy worked me up a license, handed it to me and suddenly I was a licensed truck driver – never took a test or anything. Things are a lot different nowadays.”
John said the easy money from his first road trip is what hooked him.
“For one day and one night’s work I made $100. I couldn’t believe it. Well, of course I was hooked. That was a lot of money for a young man back in them days,” John said.
John spends his down time at home in Braxton, Mississippi with his companion Eva Mae White. They enjoy raising chickens and miniature goats. They also enjoy sharing the eggs from their chicken coop with those in need in their community and with friends who love fresh eggs.
Colin “Big John” Sheppard is a solid guy, and not just because he’s 6-foot 5 with hands as big as baseball gloves, but because he’s a family man and he’s running a good owner operator business through discipline and know-how.
Big John is expanding his business with the recent purchase of a second truck and has already found a driver. The 38-year-old has owned his own truck for 2 and a half years. He said the money in trucking is good, but his advice for new truck drivers – learn how to do some mechanic work.
“Besides the freedom of the road, the money is good – until something breaks,” Big John said. “Then, it can really be painful to your bottom line. My best advice to any trucker is to learn how to fix your own equipment. Parts are expensive and labor more so.”
Big John started driving trucks at 18 after working for a company in their terminal as a fork lift operator. He has a lot of family in the trucking industry, including a grandfather, an uncle and a cousin, so maybe it makes sense that he very quickly graduated into making local hauls for his company and really got a taste for what trucking life would be like.
“Everyone is tied to something, if they’re out there trying to make a living for their families,” he said. Big John and wife Ruthie stay busy at home raising 4 kids They live in Florence. Family time is very important to him, he said. “But, I really enjoy the work of trucking.”
He did some diesel coursework at Hinds Community College once, but quickly realized he missed the road and took an opportunity to get back out there as soon as he could.
“I’ve tried doing a couple other things in my life and if I’m going to be tied to something that takes me away from home, it better be something I like to do. And, the truth is, trucking isn’t just a job to me. It’s a lifestyle that I enjoy and it provides for my family.”
Ken Carman of Ellisville, Miss. has been driving trucks since his grandfather taught him how in the 1970s.
American Transport Services Inc.’s newest driver comes to the fleet with 38 years of truck driving under his belt.
Richard Collins of Star, Mississippi was hired April 17. He is driving a company truck, but will soon be a driver for ATS Inc. owner operator Collin “Big John” Sheppard. Sheppard is currently in the process of investing in a second truck.
Collins said in the late 1970’s he was working for John Deere assembling tractors when he got his first taste for what it’d be like on the road.
“A very good friend of mine took me on a ride, and well, I was hooked,” Collins said. It was 1979, he explained. “I gotta be truthful, what I really liked was seeing the country at someone else’s expense,” he said.
Collins recalls a trip he took with wife Juanita in 1987 that has been one of his most memorable moments on the road.
“We got to see the Twin Towers before they were destroyed,” he said. “That was an amazing view. You can’t imagine it. You’d have had to seen it for yourself. I’m so glad we got to do that.”
Richard also has a special riding partner – a schnauzer named “Pot-Pot.”
Juanita tells us the schnauzer’s given name was Angel, but Richard calls her “Pot-Pot.” Juanita explained that it was necessary to let Pot-Pot go out on the road with best friend Richard.
“When he left her at home, she would lay at the back door with her nose stuck to it and waited on him to come home. If he was gone over night she wouldn’t come to the bedroom to sleep in her normal spot next to Richard. She made herself sick. So, we got her a harness and a leash and now she’s a trucker, too,” Juanita explains.
Richard and Juanita have 4 children, 7 grandchildren and a great-grandchild, too. They like spending their time with the growing family and are known for their love of dogs – they raise and breed Yorkies. According to Juanita there are no little Yorkies in the oven, but she is going to keep us updated.
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Regina Duran takes care of business. She’s the bookkeeper for American Transport Services Inc. She handles the company money and accounts and helps the Cichirillos stay ahead of the game in business financial matters.
Regina explains that it is very important to her to do a good job for ATS Inc. and vice president Steve Cichirillo.
“I’ve always had a really good working relationship with Steve. I’ve been knowing [the Cichirillos] practically all of my life. They’re like family to me,” she said. “I graduated high school with their kids and we were always very close.” Regina graduated Richland High School in 2002.
She said that her father and Steve became friends nearly 30 years ago.
“My dad works for Southern States Utility Trailer Sales and Steve buys all of his trailers from my dad – always has,” she said.
Regina started with ATS Inc. in July 2014. She’s been along for the ride as the Cichirillos have grown their business from a simple brokering company into a fleet of 16 trucks, 21 employees and still growing. ATS Inc. is now looking to add another broker to the staff.
“We knew their business was really growing, and then one day my Aunt Pam called me up and said, ‘Baby, Mr. Steve really needs some help down there.’ And they asked if I was interested. That was in 2014, I’ve been here ever since.”
Regina has been with the company longer than any other staff member. She works with ATS Inc. part time, and she also works full time as a salesperson for a construction supply company and works from home. But her most important job? Soccer mom.
“We are pretty busy with soccer. My little girl is a really great player,” Regina said. She explains that her 8-year-old daughter, Shelby, is playing on a 10-year-old “select” soccer team. “That means the players have to try out and be accepted. She’s a pretty advanced player. We’re very proud of her.”
Regina has been married 13 years to husband Shaun. They also have a 2-year-old son, Brady. She says the Durans and the Cichirillos are still very close friends and likely will always be that way.
“You can’t ask for a better boss than Steve. You can’t ask for better people or a better family than the Cichirillos. I know this, if I had trouble, he’s the friend I’d call,” Regina said.
ATS Inc. owner operator Doug Bowie stands next to his 1998 Freightliner Classic SL at home in Pineville, Louisiana.
At ATS Inc. - We Bring It!
Regina Duran is the bookkeeper for ATS Inc.
Trucking isn’t just a job for ATS Inc. owner operator
John Melton is an owner operator who continues trucking for the love of the work.
ATS Inc. office manager is integral part of company growth
Colin “Big John” Sheppard sits in his 2013, 780 VN Volvo at American Transport Services Inc.’s home office in Florence, Mississippi.
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Office manager for American Transport Services Inc. Becky Mahaffey has been an integral part of the company's growth over the last 2 years. She has several years’ experience in administration that includes customer service, retail, a position as a legal secretary and an administrative job at a natural gas monitoring company.
Becky was ATS Inc.’s first office personnel to be brought on board in 2015. She explained that when she first started working in the trucking industry it was like opening up a whole new world.
“Most people have no idea there’s all this business going on behind the food they eat and the clothes they wear,” Becky pointed out. But, things quickly fell into place for her. She had some familiarity with the lingo of trucking saying that her parents have been in the industry her entire life.
“My dad and mom are my sources to the trucking industry. My dad, Harry Slade, has been a truck driver for 50 years and my mom worked for brokerage companies,” Becky said.
Becky's job involves tracking detailed shipping data and staying current and in compliance with laws and regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation.
“I keep track of 16 drivers making sure they all stay in compliance with the current DOT regulations,” she explained. “I invoice our loads for payment. I take care of the quarterly International Fuel Tax Agreement reports, I manage driver and equipment updates, as well as compile payroll settlements for our drivers, so our bookkeeper can run weekly payroll.”
Becky is married to Don Mahaffey. They live in Richland and together they have five daughters, three grandchildren and a new grandchild on the way.
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