In the last 50 years, Mark Davidson is estimated to have hauled more than 23,000 loads while traveling 3.3 million miles.
To illustrate how mind-blowing those figures are, consider the fact that 3.3 million miles is equal to 132.5 trips around the equator. And if that’s not out-of-this-world enough for you, 3.3 million miles is also equal to just under seven round trips to the moon.
In summary, Davidson has an incredible set of numbers defining an incredible career.
He found his passion early and devoted himself to it. In 1973, he began doing machine set-ups at Day County Equipment in Webster, South Dakota. Not long after, he found his way into a small delivery truck, and from there, as he puts it, he just moved up to bigger trucks.
Two fundamental things have kept Davidson passionate about his job all this time. First, as long as he can remember, he’s always loved trucks and everything about them. He traces his interest in driving to his childhood when his older brother drove grain trucks.
“I think that’s how I got hooked,” he said.
What’s kept him on the hook since then is the people at the end of every route.
“The best part of my job is meeting customers and addressing their needs,” he said.
Farmers see a tractor or a combine not just as a piece of equipment but as a vital tool needed to feed their families. To them, the person who picks those machines up and returns them — sometimes covering hundreds of miles to do so — can be a lifeline to their business. Davidson cherishes those connections and recognizes his role in providing a world-class customer experience.
“I have hundreds of customer numbers in my phone,” he said, a testament to his importance on communication. “I always call to make sure they’re ready before I show up. And if things change on my end, I reach out directly and let them know ASAP.”
Five decades into his career, it's an understatement to say Davidson is good at what he does. But if you need further proof, there's this: Mark is the only person on the planet to have hauled one of the only existing Case 150 steam engines over the road.
In fact, he's done it many times, and he’s the only driver trusted to do the job. It's a relationship that's years in the making, one Davidson says is a defining point of pride in his career. It’s just one example — a unique one, no doubt — of the special role Davidson and his fellow drivers play in building customers for life.
“There are a lot of things you learn by trial and error,” Davidson said, the weight of his 50 years of experience adding to his words. And though the thought of learning by trial and error while hauling massive machines down busy roads will likely make any outsider anxious, it drives home the importance of planning in Davidson’s line of work.
“With the stuff we move, you have to be thinking way ahead,” he said. “Where can I get through? Which routes are undergoing construction? What’s the weather going to be like? There’s a lot of planning that goes into it to be sure you’re prepared.”
Davidson joined RDO as part of an acquisition, but his experience had little of the usual stress and uncertainty. He knew enough about RDO already to believe there was nothing to worry about, and today, he says that belief has held.
“Before we became part of RDO, someone told me, ‘You’re just going to be a number now.’ I have never found that to be the case,” he said. “My years at RDO have been some of my best. There are just so many excellent people to work with.”
Congratulations and thank you to Mark Davidson for 50 years of delivering world-class experiences for RDO customers.