CONCORD, N.C. – With more than 600 team members in the organization, there are stories all across the Hendrick Motorsports campus.
With that in mind, we’re taking the chance to give fans a glimpse at all of the many sides of Hendrick Motorsports.
Below, you’ll meet Landon Walker.
Walker, fueler for the No. 24 team, also owns and operates a business outside his full-time job with his wife, Kristy.
For the last three years, the couple has owned and operated Walker Trucking, which is headquartered in Denver, North Carolina.
To learn more about the Walker’s trucking company, hear more from him below.
What interested you in this business? Do you have family in the trucking industry?
“When I was at Clemson playing football, the summers, when we had summer school there, I would work for a guy who was able to get me in the business. He was a contractor for one of the largest global courier delivery services. I learned the logistics and the business from him. That’s how I originally learned about the whole behind the scenes: ‘Hey, this is how you buy runs, how you operate the trucks and how you hire drivers.’ Every little piece of logistical information in between, he was the guy I leaned on for all the information.
Especially when I was there, it seemed like a pretty good opportunity where you could own your own business and not have to be in any office 24/7. That was very interesting to me and I always held that thought in my head. It just honestly fell into place once I got into this.”
Did you own any other businesses prior to this?
“I did not. I’d been here (Hendrick Motorsports) roughly three years before I started it. I wanted to start it, but I wanted to be comfortable here first before I felt like I could man something and do this.”
Are you the sole owner? Do you have any partners?
“My wife is the president. She had done different jobs as a loan officer and those type of things. About 2015, I started it and ran it by myself for two years. Once I ran it for two years, I felt like I was comfortable enough and had known enough to help her to learn it.
We brought her on and decided to make her full-time in it. The biggest thing was being able to replace her income at her company. We got to a point where I felt like I could do that. So we brought her on full-time and made her the president so I didn’t have to do as many day-to-day activities. Now, she’s running it full-time and I’m part-time, what I wanted it to be the whole time. It was really tough the first three years to get it where it is now. It’s in a good spot now with her being full-time.”
As a manager, how do you make those important decisions?
“You have to be able to pick your battles. My manager style is very different than I thought it would be. I thought I would be the type of guy to be like ‘Hey, if you’re not here at 8 a.m., you’re not working for me if you’re not doing exactly what I say when I want it done, you’re not going to be my guy.’ I quickly learned that’s not going to cut it. I learned real quick within the first couple weeks, ‘I’m going to have to lay back a little bit.’ These guys are going to do what they have to do.”
What’s been the most rewarding part of being a business owner?
Seeing your results. Seeing something you started out as a vision and a dream become a reality. It’s funny, the first time I saw one of my trucks I was on I-485, I wasn’t really paying attention to where I was. I knew my guy was running but I didn’t think about it. I was going to Hendrick (Motorsports) and I saw one of my trucks coming the other way on I-485. It had an Amazon trailer with it and I was like ‘Man, that is cool. That’s me.' It took my mind a little bit to wrap around that because I thought ‘How did I even get to this point?’ That was rewarding for me to see my work on the road and in the process. That was pretty rewarding.”
Were there any books or websites you leaned on that helped get the business started?
“No, that’s what’s crazy. I’m usually a huge preparation guy and I got to know what I’m doing, what I’m getting into, how it’s going to work. When I first met the guy that helped me get into this industry, I watched him work and I saw the good things he did, the bad things he did and I said 'Okay, I want to be this and I want to do that.’ I just had an idea and my wife came from a company where she was already managing people under her.
She had her style of managing, I had mine. We’ve meshed that together and made it work. She does things differently than I do and I do things differently than her. It works. The drivers know when to call her and when to call me. They know when they’re going to be dealing with a certain aspect of day-to-day work, they call her. It’s just funny how it works out. In my opinion, experience is the biggest thing you can do to prepare your mind. Learn by your mistakes. I’ve made a ton of them.”
When you’re not a pit crew member anymore, what do you envision for your company at that point?
“My goal is to build it to the point where I can’t run it myself, I have to have multiple managers. I want to get to where it may be 100 trucks. That’s fine with me. I think I could see myself getting that big. It’s part of the process. I’m growing slowly and trying to keep it within myself and my boundaries.
It’s funny, going back, you start looking at how you manage your current job, it’s helped me a lot. I see that and I see guys being able to work within their own system. That’s something I’ve learned is, ‘This guy isn’t going to be perfect, but he’s going to get the job done for you.’ Being perfect isn’t something that’s going to happen at that position. Growing the company is my goal and to not get too spun out, too far from my own reach and understand the point where I need another manager to help me run it.”
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