Tracy Devitt...WITH BLIND FAITH, COMES FAVOR
Posted on Monday, October 13, 2014
Looking back, nearly forty eight years ago, it's apparent that Tracy Devitt's life has had a meaning and a plan since the day he was born. Many people are able to recognize their own bio and acknowledge each obstacle they had to overcome as a part of their testimony. To muster the strength to conquer life's hardships through the misfortunes, numerous disappointments and countless failures in one life time is enough to send a person to a dark hole. When you're able to realize that the negatives in your life do not have a say in your will power, nor will they break your spirit, only then will you no longer be a victim. Every day is a new day. Some come with a little less struggle than others. Either way, each one requires a steady mentality of humility and trust. Trusting that if you give your best; changing daily to be better than the person you were yesterday, intertwined with humility to remain patient under trial, then you're left with a sense of calmness in your pride and respect for those that walked with you during your refining.
Tracy comes from a very family oriented background. He was the second of six, with two brothers and three sisters. His father was a professional truck driver and initially his introduction into the trucking business. You could call it tough love, the way his father taught him the ropes but it all made him into who he is today. His whole aspect of the industry, his driven work ethic and the ability to earn respect wasn't formed over night or given in an instruction manual, sealed with a pretty bow. Tracy had to earn his keep at an early age. He recalls his mother as the typical loving, no nonsense southern mother. She stayed home to raise their children in the city of Southside, Chicago. Growing up, Tracy was equally close to his sisters, just as much as his brothers. As young as four, he began spending most of his free time on the road with his father. At times his older brother would also join them. If the truck wasn't away from home, the boys would spend their days washing and cleaning it. Any excuse to be near the truck. One of Tracy's earliest memories was so distinguished, that I changed his life forever. "I was in the first grade and I remember riding the bus home from school. I was about to get off at my stop and I could see what was parked in my driveway from around the corner. My dad had bought a blue and white striped Kenworth W900 and I had tears in my eyes... I knew then something was the matter with me. From that point on I didn't second guess... I always knew that I was going to be a truck driver."
At nine, Tracy's father had him driving a tractor and trailer. Throughout his teenage years he continued perfecting his craft. He seized any opportunity to be around trucks or other drivers. The majority of his attention was invested into helping unload trucks or washing and polishing them, day or night. His only interest was to put himself in front of as many trucks as possible. He wanted to learn more. His eyes couldn't see enough. By fourteen he was working at a local truck mat and at fifteen he purchased his very own car. One of his dad's drivers had a 1963 brown Ford pickup that he was ready to get rid of. "My dad doesn't give anything away! You have to earn it. He gave me plenty of guidance and advice, but that's about all." Reminding me of his father's mindset, he explains how the two of them marched into a bank together and took out a $600 loan, in which Tracy had to pay back $35 to the bank once a month until it was cleared. With a successful trucking career and a good head on his shoulders, Tracy's father didn't except anything less from his kids. Responsibility was expected, on his terms. When Tracy was sixteen, he was expelled from school and it was like he hit a brick wall. Considering how strict his father was about his kids getting a good education, it was quiet at dinner but he didn't seem mad at all. "The very next morning, he woke me up and said, 'It's time for you to go to work.' He said since I wanted to act like I'm an adult, then I can get a job." Tracy went over his new schedule. He was to drive his father to work every day, sit there until his work day was over and then take him home. At the time his father was a dispatcher and worked into the late hours of the night. In other words, Tracy was bored out of his mind. To occupy his time, during the day he ran parts for the repair shop and he took a second shift at night, refilling the trucks with fuel. After two months of going full throttle, Tracy's dad asked him how long did he plan on doing this? His comeback was simple, "As long as I have to." Subconsciously thinking, 'You're the one that started this.' His father then suggested that he drive a truck, since he obviously knew how. The only catch was, Tracy would need to sell his pickup to use the money to start as a truck driver. He was quick to reject the idea and his father replied in his nonchalant tone, "Keep pumping fuel for the rest of your life then." After some thought, reflecting on the fact that anything his father said or did was for his overall growth as an individual and to better himself, even if he was too young at the time to understand. In hindsight, his father was his hero. He wanted nothing more than to make him proud. "So I did as he said and sold my pickup. Then my dad bought me the biggest piece of junk he could get his hands on. He put me in a 1971 Ford LN900 with a 250 Cummins, 10 speed. He wouldn't let me drive a nice one. Said I had to pay my dues." Tracy was off to begin his own adventures at the age of sixteen. He had been counseled and coached up to this very moment to think as an adult and carry himself with maturity beyond his years. Traveling solo, Tracy started off carrying up to three loads a day back and forth from Chicago to Indiana hauling copper. He would return home long enough to catch a few hours of sleep. He stayed busy on the road and took as many assignments that he could. There was an incident in Texas that caught Tracy off guard. He entered a business to drop a shipment off and the reactions from the people that he spoke to left him wondering if he had done something wrong. Confused, he called his father and explained the situation. He told him, "They were all staring at me and it was obvious they were talking about me too. I don't understand." It was then when his father had to bring him back to reality. "He told me it was because of my age. 'You're a kid.' But I didn't feel like a kid. Doing what I was doing at my age, I felt like a grown man."
A few years later, Tracy decided he was ready to put some distance between him and his father. The pair spent so much time involved in each other's life, working and living together, that it all became consuming. Tracy landed a steady job at twenty, with a container company. More than content with his new boss, he settled in. The next six years he devoted to this business. "I landed a company job, making good money, while working for a great guy." With no need to look for another fit, Tracy focused on excelling. He took great care of his truck and in 1993 he was next in line for a brand new one. Unfortunately Tracy's good friend, the company owner suffered a major heart attack, forcing him to take a step back. A new guy stepped in and immediately bumped heads with Tracy. The owner made it known that Tracy's position with his company was highly valuable and he was considered 'untouchable.' The newcomer found a loop hole that he knew would light Tracy's fire. When it came time for the new truck to arrive, it was presented to another driver, other than Tracy. The man's deceitful presumption was correct and it hit Tracy with quite a blow. Given the fact that working hard to earn what you receive, is all Tracy has ever done. Topped with his passion for trucks and he had never owned anything new before in his life. His main objective was that new truck. He went home that day in a foul mood to his wife, Denise who was pregnant with their first child. Denise immediately noticed his change in demeanor and suggested that if he wanted a brand new truck so bad, why don't he go purchase one himself. "I didn't ever think of that. So I asked her, 'Can I?' And she said, 'If you want to.'" Sounds simple enough. That very Saturday, Tracy and Denise headed straight to the Kenworth dealership to order his dream truck. "It's one of my greatest memories of my trucking career. It was my childhood dream! I sat there ordering my truck... I picked out the color and all of the details, bumper to bumper. I originally picked orange, my favorite color but when it came in, it was yellow. At first I wasn't happy about it...now I've grown to love it." They placed the order on February of 1994 and picked the truck up that June. It was a 1994 Kenworth W900L 60in. flattop sleeper with a 435 Caterpillar engine, 13 speed transmission. When checking off his dream truck from his bucket list, Denise was right there beside him. Seeing him so happy, made her happy. "My wife gets most of the credit. If it weren't for her courage and guts to do it, I wouldn't have done it without her. She loves me so much, that she was willing to support me through it because she knew how much it meant to me." And that my friends brings us into the whirlwind of their timeless love story. When I asked Tracy how the two of them met, I have to say, this couple is meant to be...
It happened during his seventh grade year. Tracy celebrated his birthday July 17th. As Tracy was walking out of his back door, a young girl was coming in. She was a friend of his sister's that came over to visit. He noticed immediately the cool looking transistor radio that she was holding in her hand. He told her, "Nice radio!" In response, she explained that she got it for her birthday. Tracy then asked her when her birthday was. Coincidentally, the two shared the same day, just two years difference. The young kids quickly became close friends. "I remember telling my mom that I was going to marry her." This sweet girl's name was Denise. The couple started dating at the ages of 15 and 17 and were wed eight years later on October 18th, 1991. They decided on an inside wedding, with lots of friends and family. Once again, Tracy's father came through with some advice for his son. "He told me, 'Don't mess up the wedding or you'll pay for it the rest of your life.' So we both worked hard and saved our money. I wanted her to have the wedding that she's always wanted." Denise took up two jobs. Both physical. One landscaping and the other, touch up paint jobs. The connection the two of them share for one another is the type of love that only comes in the form of a paperback novel. To be shared on a big screen and envied by an audience. The respect and unselfish commitment given on each end is a statement about how a person is supposed to treat another. Unashamed, with unconditional love to no measure. When the world turns to a dark place, the one beside you needs to be your light to brighten every day. Not everyone is fortunate enough to find their beloved, but when Tracy did, he knew exactly how to react. And still does. In speaking with Tracy and Denise both, the sincerity in speaking of their spouse is truly genuine. A good, healthy relationship constantly lifts the other in praise and knows exactly where their strength comes from. True love isn't easy. It's a lot of work but once you've found it, it can never be replaced.
In 1994, after the couple bought their new truck, Tracy quit the company pulling containers. With their first born on the way, he knew that he needed a secure gig to support his growing family. He and one of his brother went to work together hauling freight. Nine months later he went back to driving for his former friend again, this time as an owner operator. Two years later, Tracy ventured out and got his own authority. He's been on his own ever since. He teamed up with his brother that was a broker. With his help he was able to get away from pulling containers. His brother kept him busy. Tracy knew, the more loads; the more money he could make. He grew his Chicago based company and was soon up to three trucks, traveling all over the southeast. Knowing exactly what it was like being a truck driver himself, he treated his drivers well. What Tracy was not familiar with was being a father. "I had no clue how to be a parent." He shares with me a very touching story that he admits is not one of his proudest moments. He was on his first trip in his new truck in Franklin, Tennessee. A security guard told Tracy to call his wife because she was in labor. "Keep in mind, I had never been a dad before so I obviously made some wrong decisions and my wife is such a great person, she forgave me. I've never had the full experience of being a dad yet..." Denise asked her husband to leave his truck in Tennessee and rush home so he can be with her for the birth of their daughter, Jordan. The only thing he caught in that conversation was, 'leave your truck.' Just the thought of taking off without his brand new truck seemed absurd to Tracy. His location and timing couldn't have been more perfect. His reasoning was because another one of his childhood dreams was to drive with his father on the road, but in his own truck. A sense of accomplishment for Tracy had come full circle. He decided to wait in Tennessee for his father, so the two of them could truck back together to meet his baby girl. When he arrived home with no sense of urgency, he opted for a quick nap. He was parked in his own driveway, ready to nod off when a friend stopped by. With disappointment in his voice, he continued, "He told me congratulations... I assumed that he was talking about my new truck." That makes sense, considering everything in his world at the time revolved around this truck. "I realized that he wasn't talking about my truck but was referring to me being a dad. I told him that I hadn't met my new born baby yet. He then told me to go take a shower and get to that hospital or I was going to be in a lot of trouble and in divorce court." It hit Tracy right then, how serious this milestone was. Not just for his wife, but for them as a family.
They say that babies can recognize voices. Right when Tracy walked into his wife's hospital room, her back was to him. He said two simple words, "Hello babe." His daughter was on her shoulder and when she heard his voice, she lifted her head and looked right at him. "When that happened, my whole life changed forever. That truck didn't mean anything anymore." The day the Devitt's were able to come home, Tracy carried his baby girl, wrapped up in his arms straight up to his truck and introduced them to one another. He made a promise right then, that his truck will never come before her again. Their little addition took to loving his truck just as much as he did. "She rode with me until she was five. She'd grab her Little Mermaid suitcase and hop right in." A few years later, they welcomed their son, Jake on May 19, 1998.
By this time Tracy was up to six trucks and seven drivers. Then things took a turn for the worst and he almost lost everything. After a tough run in with a customer who left him out to dry, his business hit rock bottom. As his company began crumbling, he knew of only one thing left to do. Pray. "I was saved as a kid born again. I began asking for God's direction and I turned my life over to Him. I started going back to church. There I was able to mature and find help parenting. I give all of the credit for everything that I've been through to God." In 1997, he and his brother split ways and divided their trucks and trailers. Tracy went back to driving real hard. He felt like he could barely hold his head above water. The phone was ringing nonstop from collectors and he was at his breaking point. One morning he explained to Denise that some bad things were going to happen that day because the bank was calling, but he didn't have any answers for them. Being the strong force that she is, Denise replied soothingly, "Don't worry about it. You won't lose me." And with that Tracy said, "That's the only thing I can't afford to lose. Anything else I can handle." With tears in my eyes, I'm a witness to a beautiful love that can move mountains. As if that wasn't enough to tug at my heart, he finished that story saying, "God knows that I don't deserve her."
Everything started turning around in 1999. Through hard work and dedication, with lots of prayer, Tracy was able to keep his truck and pay his other creditors off. At least until the economy crashed in 2004. Everyone took a beating. "By the grace of God I had all of my equipment paid off." Customers began to slow down and he had to downsize. He moved from his office with 14 door docks, to working from home. Tracy confesses of a prayer of surrender that he made two years ago this past May. "I prayed that whatever He wanted, I would do... and within time he has built my business bigger than I had ever imagined!" That next month he was able to purchase another truck. Then another in July and again in September. With twenty years' experience, he has done more than put in his time. As of 2003, with his company, Dedicated Leasing he is up to 14 trucks with 16 drivers. "In the bible it says, 'Much is given; Much is required.' I've reached uncharted waters and it wasn't my plan."
Tracy and his brothers work together and have also brought in a couple of their siblings too. With the amount of business coming through, Tracy doesn't drive as much and operates primarily out of his office. Jordan is twenty now and a college student. He tries to take Jake to any event that involves trucks. It was at truck show in Rantoul, Illinois when the father and son duo first met Chi-Town Large Cars. It was five years ago. They were passing by the club's booth and Tracy liked the Chi-Town t-shirt one of the guys was wearing. He asked if he could buy one and the man told him, "You can't." The man's response made him pause for a second, thinking, "...okay?" They both just stood there looking at each other. Then the stranger proceeded to explain that it's a truck club. Tracy blew it off and went on about his business. He had no interest at the time. Jake, however did. Later his son looked up the club, Chi-Town Large Cars on the internet. "Jake said that I'd have to submit an essay about myself and why I loved trucks in order to be a member. I didn't write a single essay when I was in school." He was hesitant at first, but he noticed his son's interest in the club. After more research, he found the quality of drivers involved reminded him of the type of drivers that his father drove with. These specific characteristics of professional truck drivers is what he wanted his son to be around. "I wanted him to be exposed to the best and they claimed to be the best." He sent in his article and was soon a member of the Chi-Town Large Cars. His first event as a member was a charity held in honor of a little girl that was battling cancer and her father was away at war. Tracy's entire family fell in love with the whole charity aspect. "I feel like God doesn't bless me to keep it to myself."
He takes pride in the brotherhood of his club, as every member of Chi-Town Large Cars does. If there is a need, inside of their organization or a stranger far from home, they attack it as a group. Denise enjoys helping and being involved with their club family too. "They do so many things for families in need. Donate money, raise awareness and also the relationships that we all have with one another, helps out tremendously. Just being able to talk to other drivers and their wives. When we're able to get together, I feel like I already know them." The outpour from people lending a helping hand from all over the country, is something that you don't see anymore. Denise continued to describe her husband of 22 years, stating that he's loving, generous and very giving... I love the fact that his exact words of his life-long companion are words of similar affirmation too.
*Philippians 2:2 King James Version (KJV)
2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
I'd say this family has it figured out. This verse comes to mind. They apply it to both, their marriage and their spiritual relationship, to where they give all of their glory; to God. Tracy is the club's chaplain and referred by all of his brothers and sisters of Chi-Town as, preacher.