TLD Logistics’ safety manager passed away Aug. 9 leaving behind a legacy of service to country, industry
By Al Muskewitz
The last time TLD Logistics president Jim Peters spoke to John Wiegand he was on the phone getting some good news.
Usually when the safety manager calls it’s not that way and even when this call came Peters jokingly asked how was Wiegand going to darken his day this time.
But this call was different. Wiegand was calling to say the company had come in below all the basic thresholds on its CSA report for the first time in its history. And that included the hours-of-service benchmark it had been working to get a handle on for several years.
A few hours after the call Wiegand was gone. He was 58 years old.
When Wiegand passed away Aug. 9 while attending his 40thhigh school reunion in Mendota, Ill., Peters not only lost a valued colleague but a close and trusted friend.
That relationship goes back years before their days together at TLD.
Peters first encountered his future safety manager when he called on him as a customer for a different carrier. Wiegand’s intense, straight-forward, detail-oriented approach in their weekly productivity meetings always made an impact to him, the kind of qualities and person he knew would strengthen the TLD culture if gotten the chance.
That became a reality in 2014 when Peters brought him into the TLD fold as safety director even though Wiegand was unfamiliar with that side of the industry.
“But my personal viewpoint was if we get just half of the intensity that John managed me when he was my customer I thought he would be very successful as a safety manager,” Peters said.
He was right. Three months after Wiegand came on board TLD was audited by the Department of Transportation. With limited knowledge of the process he did what Peters called “a pretty remarkable job” working his way through what was a successful audit and actually became friends with the auditor because he used the encounter as an opportunity to learn, which is just the way he was.
“The implementation of CSA happened around 2010 and I don’t think there were a lot of people in the industry who knew a whole lot of how CSA worked,” Peters said. “Well, John made that his mission to learn CSA and I would tell you he could probably tell you more about CSA than some of the people who wrote the program. He dove into it and became a master of it. He could look at how we were doing through the course of the month and predict our scores.
“The final tribute to John’s intensity in working and managing CSA as the safety manager for TLD is we forever always had one basic over the threshold, the hours of service. He told me we are under on all the basics of CSA and … that was really a tribute to John because he understood and researched CSA so that in my opinion I would consider him a master at it.”
During Wiegand’s watch TLD instituted a number of innovative safety programs and protocols. He conducted weekly Saturday driver safety meetings. He developed a 50-slide safety awareness power-point program called DASH – Driver Awareness of Safety and Hazards – incorporating scenarios drivers have encountered on the road and customers and traveled annually to every one of TLD’s terminals to proctor it. He also developed an on-line training tool called Pro Tread, a 30-minute program for drivers tied to qualifying for their monthly safety bonus.
“I think the drivers would tell you he always kept the material relative to topics we were experiencing and things that we went through,” Peters said.
Wiegand also was “real engaged” helping with the company with driver retention.
TLD plans to introduce several company-wide initiatives in the wake of his passing. It already has renamed its new drivers scholarship the John Wiegand Memorial Scholarship. There are plans to develop a collective Emergency Fund through a payroll deduction and company match to help employees facing a hardship. And it also is looking to continue Wiegand’s work to get the G.I. Bill as an accepted opportunity for former service members looking to attend a TLD driver training school.
A final ride tribute is being planned from the company headquarters in Knoxville, Tenn., for later this year.
Wiegand, a retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel, was laid to rest at the Rock Island Arsenal National Cemetery after a funeral mass in Kennesaw, Ga. TLD Logistics sent the military-themed truck of driver Tony Gossett to the service, a tribute to Wiegand’s nearly 30 years of military service.
“Today we laid to rest a man I was proud to claim as my friend,” Peters said. “John truly was a leader of people. He had an infectious personality and when he engaged a room of people everyone listened.
“One thing I learned about John was he was always fair and even though he was demanding he also was very good about encouraging people and helping with their development. Today I heard nothing except stories that demonstrated John’s kindness. It was very apparent to me the John I knew was the same John that these people also had relationships with.”
Al Muskewitz is the editor-in-chief for Wright Media Corp.