Meet Melvin Banister, Owner Operator

Melvin Banister was about about to get married to his current wife, Canara, when he moved from Atlanta to Little Rock in 2013.

He needed a steady job and truck driving was the perfect match because, as Banister explained, he had a love for travel.

Banister started to work for PAM Transport October, 2013.

Banister said he was truly committed to truck driving after his first route which ran to California and then back to Arkansas.

The fields of windmills and oil pumps encouraged Banister (a former professional photographer) to pull his truck over so he could take photos of the landscape. Banister was on this route for one year as a company driver but became an owner operator shortly after.

Here are a couple of photos from Melvin’s travels:

California Sky

One of Melvin’s photographs of a California sunset.

Iwo Jima Memorial Quantico

A picture taken by Melvin of the Iwo Jima memorial at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia.

On the Road as an Owner Operator

Now Melvin drives the Laredo-Detroit dedicated lane as an Owner Operator. After one year as a company driver, Banister then decided to opt in to the PAM Overdrive Lease Program.


Banister said that his choice to become an owner operator on a dedicated lane was a great career move. He said it provided him with a better work-life balance, because he gets more home time.

Or, he might make plans with Canara to meet up in Austin or Dallas for the weekend.

And as an Owner Operator who buys his own fuel, Melvin gets to choose his route as long as he gets his freight to its destination on time. “The main thing is, as long as you get your load there on schedule, you can do what you want,” he said. “You get a suggested route but are allowed to take the route you like.”

Sometimes, heading north from Laredo, Melvin will go via I-55 from Memphis toward Chicago. Or, he might head east on I-40 and pass through Nashville to catch the sights.

Banister said that the opportunity to visit Nashville has made him consider buying Tennessee Titans season tickets. Because there is a TA/Petro station just two blocks from the stadium.

Melvin’s favorite sport, though, is basketball. He described himself as a “die-hard basketball player,” he played for the U.S. Army, and he still tries to hit the court as much as possible. Banister said “I played overseas for the Army when I was in the military, I played traveling and I played rec with church when I lived in Atlanta. I’m 52 years old, but still playing.”

Today, Melvin carries two basketballs in his truck: one for outdoors and one for the gym. He goes to LA Fitness in Woodhaven, Michigan every Monday morning.

Some of Melvin’s other favorite stops on the Laredo-Detroit route include great seafood eateries along the I-10 corridor. He particularly recommends the IP Casino in Biloxi. They have truck parking and are in walking distance to other casinos in the area such as the Beau Rivage.

Beau Rivage Hotel

A photo taken by Melvin of the main building of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Melvin’s second favorite is the buffet at the L’Auberge Casino in Lake Charles.

Melvin’s no gambler, though. He’s deliberate and careful with his money, as he is with his driving.

An Outstanding Driving Record

Before becoming an Owner Operator, Melvin earned all the safety awards PAM gives its Company Drivers: a cap for three months of safe driving, a jacket for six months and a ring for 12 months.

Almost two years as an Owner Operator and Melvin is proud to report that his flawless safe driving record is still intact. “I’ve had no citations, no accidents, nothing,” he said. “It’s just a matter of being alert and taking my breaks when I’m supposed to take them, and paying attention to what’s going on when on the road. There are times when everybody makes mistakes and things happen, but for me I think being alert and carefully watching what I’m doing helps me avoid that.”

Banister said he hopes to start his own little Owner-Operator company driving for PAM. “I’m looking to find a couple of qualified drivers and get them to apply at PAM,” he said. “If you know anybody, send them my way!”

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