Lawrence Taylor wanted to be a trucker from the time he was a child playing with his little monster trucks. (Picture by SDB Media.)
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MANY LITTLE BOYS dream of having their own real-life monster trucks.
Lawrence Taylor did.
Some boys grow up, put aside toy trucks and go on to careers and lives without even an inkling of their childhood dreams, but not Lawrence. He grew up and went on to establish his own trucking company.
Lawrence is owner of Lejalaw Trucking, a business operating the only privately-owned food grade stainless steel tanker in Barbados.
Established in 2011, its name is a combination of Taylor’s and that of two of his three children (Leann his daughter and Jaiden his son). His last son, Logan, was born this past January.
Lawrence is living his dream daily. His always had a love for heavy-duty vehicles and gaining his heavy-duty licence in 1996 was just the official start.
“I always liked heavy trucks. The other flatbeds are just larger cars,” he said jokingly when the DAILY NATION joined him recently on a run from the Barbados Sugar Mill to Foursquare Rum Distillery, St Philip. “Every little boy likes heavy-duty trucks so therefore it was always a passion of mine. How you would back up and thing, it looked so sweet and I loved it.”
In 1992 after his graduation from Christ Church Foundation School, Lawrence transitioned to the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic to pursue carpentry and joinery. However, because of bad sinuses, he and the dust didn’t add up. So when he was sent on a job attachment to Sam Lord’s Castle and the castle subsequently closed, the proud St Philip man had already determined he couldn’t continue in that vein.
That’s when a neighbour offered him a job driving a flatbed truck. Lawrence had not yet gained his licence but that didn’t stop him from accepting it. What he did was research heavy-duty licences, found someone to train him in the area and he went from there.
Since that time, the 42-year-old has been working in the freighting business, transporting everything imaginable from tractors, containers and heavy equipment to the more dangerous aviation fuel. Seven years ago, he decided to start his own business.
“It was just that if I working for somebody, I gine go to a point and stop; I can’t go no further, he said. “With this I got the moon that I could reach. So therefore I can go further and further, make my own money, be independent, more relaxed and comfortable – that is the idea.”
He strongly believed that a self-employed individual could be “relaxed” or even “comfortable”.
“That’s if you have a job but I have a lifestyle,” he said. “I don’t call this a job, I call this a lifestyle. If you do something you love, you never work a day in your life . . . . Anytime you doing a job, you miserable, fretful, you ain’t working. So it must be a lifestyle. That is how I see it.”
Trucking was a tough job but Lawrence said his major headache wasn’t that, but bad driving on our roads.
“They break in front of you all the time, cut out and break and that is an everyday thing – happens about ten to 12 times a day. Somebody see you coming and you heavy, so they come out at a major stop and they break on you to turn through another gap. It is very dangerous for them. They just like to get in front of the truck and then drive very slow in front of you. Some might not get you overtake but they gine still try. Sometimes you just have to break and let them.”
He said people seemed not understand that they were safer behind big wheelers than in front of them.
“Behind I can’t do you anything unless I coming back, which I won’t do. But in front, you have to be peeping in your mirror looking at me all the time to see if I gine do you something. So it does be very difficult out there on the road, especially in these times when everybody driving and texting.
“I does see it (people texting and driving) every day. I does see all around me every day. I don’t practise that at all, ’cause in just two seconds somebody could cross in front of you. When you nearing a school you come straight off because children don’t hear horns, or don’t see traffic, so you have to be very vigilant as a driver,” he said.
Washing off any excess molasses from the big wheeler before making another run.
Business doing well
In spite of the stagnant economy, the Industry Hall, St Philip business has been doing well. It currently hauls for the three major rum distilleries. However, the biggest costs are maintenance and fuel.
To keep things balanced, Lawrence, who is also trained in mechanics, is able to perform his own repair work.
He said he has never had any regrets about his decision to go it alone with the 24-hour-a-day lifestyle and the hard times. For him, hard times can make people stronger and it is the price entrepreneurs have to pay if they really want their business to flourish and grow.
“Sometimes when I go home on evenings and have something to fix, I spend like half the night to fix it. Sometimes I go in my bed about midnight or after so you could get your truck working for the next day. If you was working for somebody else, they would have to deal with that,” he quipped.
No off days
“I don’t get weekends off, I don’t get any days off. When I ain’t driving, I fixing, unless it is something beyond me. When I ain’t got nothing to fix, I does be checking over everything, from tyres, brakes, etcetera, making sure everything good so that when I swing keys in the morning I can go comfortably.
“It is stress if you don’t know what you are doing but I got years enough behind this so everything does come naturally. You don’t feel tired working for yourself because you does be pushing for you. If you work for somebody else you does get frustrated and things does change, but you could set your goals, set your standards and you can push yourself for you and your children,” he said. (SDB Media)