Wreaths Across America's Trucking Tributes Presents TransLand, Inc.
As the story often begins in the trucking industry, “We’re a family-operated company that started small with just one truck and two or three people, and today we’re…” Owner and CEO of TransLand, Inc. out of Missouri, Mark Walker, ends that sentence with, ”…up to about 170 trucks and 230 people.”
TransLand has been in business for 37 years started by Mark’s parents. “Our company culture is created around one of the core values handed down by my parents,” Mark shared. “That’s respect for one another, and we consider everyone, even employees as our customer.”
Mark’s father served in the U.S. Army Reserves for several years and instilled a respect for the military in his son. Wreaths Across America had been on Mark’s radar for a few years having heard of the mission to remember, honor and teach through the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA).
“It’s been on our wish list so to speak, and we were finally able to make it happen this past year when Chris joined us.”
Chris St. John is the VP of Sales, and he joined the team at TransLand last year bringing with him great enthusiasm for the Wreaths Across America’s mission.
“It’s important to me because I’m from the Desert Storm era and I had friends who went over and some never came back,” Chris explained. “My father was drafted during the Vietnam War, but a bum knee kept him out, but he always had a passion for a number of his friends who served and never came back. He’s spent most of his life serving the military in a sales role selling boots to the military. My great-grandfather fought in World War I, and both of my grandfather’s fought in World War II.”
Both men agree one of the most poignant moments of involvement with Wreaths Across America was to understand what it meant to one of their professional drivers, Henry Grider, a Vietnam Veteran, and to learn of the reception he received.
“Henry’s an Army Ranger and did several tours,” Chris explained. “He called and said he was greeted and lead into where he was going to do the wreath pickup. He told me they treated him like royalty and invited him to dinner while his truck was being loaded. He was overcome with emotion and explained as a Vietnam veteran he’d never been treated and welcomed in such a way. It made a huge impact. He was able to meet other drivers who were also Vietnam veterans, and they got to share time and conversation. When he got back, he looked me in the eye and said, ‘I’ve never had a greater experience in trucking than this.”
TransLand made two drops of citizen-sponsored veterans’ wreaths in Illinois, and other company employees participated in wreath-laying ceremonies in Missouri, and that’s when Chris had the “what about my son?” experience, described by Wreaths Across America’s Board Chairman, Wayne Hanson.
“We participated at Springfield National, and we had about 6,500 wreaths to be placed, but there are almost 13,000 graves in that cemetery. We were impacted as a group to see those graves not covered and my teenage daughter looked at me and asked me why we didn’t get to do the other sections. That’s was tough to see, so we decided we’re going to do our best this year to cover that cemetery.”
Thank you, Chris, Mark and the entire TransLand team for supporting the mission to remember, honor and teach. You can hear more with Mark and Chris on Trucking Tributes which airs exclusively on Wreaths Across America Radio on Tuesdays at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM EST.