For 23 years, Wayne Meenach built seats for Johnson Controls that were installed in Ford Motor Co. vehicles until the Louisville plant closed in July. It turns out losing his job was just the motivation that the 48-year-old Louisville native needed to make a change: signing up for a CDL class in hopes of becoming a truck driver.
Meenach took the next step by passing his CDL permit test Thursday morning, giving him the opportunity to move on to behind-the-wheel practice the next two weeks.
“Sixteen days of school with an opportunity to scale up and make real good money,” said Meenach of his reason for pursuing a trucking career, after turning down the chance to continue building seats at a company 26 miles east in Simpsonville as well as another to build Ford trucks. “I’ve kinda been interested in doing this for a while. It kinda forced my hand. I’ve been doing that so long, I was tired of doing it. I want to take this opportunity to change my life.”
PHOTO GALLERY: Photos of students, classroom and training property.
Meenach, who has a 27-year-old daughter and a 16-year-old son and remarried in 2014, has his eye on a particular job if he earns his CDL next month.
“I’ve got some friends who are supposed to help me get on with UPS over-the-road,” Meenach said. “They’re team drivers. It’s the same run every week, gone three days and off four. I won’t be gone for weeks like some over-the-road drivers. My job was hard on your body. I’ve had carpal tunnel [syndrome] in both hands. Repetitive motion breaks you down. I can sit on my butt all day when I drive.”
Meenach has the physique of someone who does anything but sit. He wears a muscle shirt to class every day, exposing the arms of a body builder. “I don’t feel 48. I still think I’m 23.”
-By David Elfin, Transport Topics staff reporter. Photo by John Sommers II for Transport Topics