+ Travis Mercer
Driver Vince Barnett was born in Los Angeles and raised in California. He began trucking in 1996. • right • On the other hand, owner/operator Travis Mercer was born and raised on a farm in Hamilton, Missouri (population 1,700). While on active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, Travis was stationed in Quantico, Virginia; Milton, Florida; and Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Q&A with Vince and Travis
Tell us about a memorable shipment or run you were part of.
Vince: As part of recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, I delivered three homes from South Carolina to Texas for displaced families.
Travis: I was moving industrial tools to Georgia and had done several runs to the same shop, so I was getting to know the tech pretty well. One day, he had a box of extra pieces going where I was going, so I offered to run them down that same day. We figured I could get it there faster, cheaper, and probably even safer than sending it by a corporate, international logistics company. Additionally, I was already there to put it in the truck, saving him the time required to go to the post or shipping office. He agreed and was happy I was willing to provide such prompt and opportunistic customer service, and I made a little extra cash on top of the load simply because I was willing to go the extra mile.
What is a lesson you have learned on the road that has benefited you in other areas of your life?
Vince: Patience and planning. A few extra minutes of planning in the morning definitely helps the day go smoother.
Travis: Be polite. You never know who you are dealing with, or what they went through that day before you showed up. I dealt with a very surly receiving worker one day, only to find out that he had nearly been killed by a falling crane just before I got there. I was glad I had treated him kindly.
When leaving out for a few days, what are must haves to pack?
Vince: Besides the normal clothes, toiletries and food, definitely take extra water. You never know what life has for you on the road.
Travis: I always take food in a cooler. It is much cheaper to take a little time and pre-pack your meals than it is to eat at truck stops all the time, not to mention healthier. I also take my Bible, my guitar, and whatever current book I am reading. Yes, I still read hard copy, paper books.
What makes IRF a company you are proud to represent?
Vince: Their values, their concern for their drivers’ welfare, and most importantly their commitment to family and faith. To them, family and home time is more important than the next load.
Travis: I take great pride in the fact I get compliments from everyone with whom I work regarding our excellent communication skills and customer service. As the founder, I am proud to tell people we are a customer service company with a side of commercial trucking. People really appreciate that.
Stephanie Mercer owns and operates IRF Transport along with her husband, Travis. While Travis makes shipment runs, Stephanie focuses on office responsibilities. Together, they have two sons.
Q&A with Stephanie
As you work alongside your husband to operate IRF Transport, how do you set boundaries so that work doesn’t overtake family time?
Stephanie: Owning and operating our own business can overtake every aspect of our lives. Although we love operating this business together, Travis and I have to be intentional in making sure there are times set aside to focus on our relationship and the relationship with our boys.
One of the things Travis and I do to focus on our relationship is do something fun like going on a motorcycle ride or going on hikes together. We do the same with our boys. They love to ride dirt bikes (we all do), go for motorcycle rides with their dad, fish and hunt. We like to play cards or board games and watch family-friendly movies together.
How did being a military wife build your grit and how does that help you when facing challenges now?
Stephanie: My time as a USMC spouse has helped me approach every challenge with the idea that it can be overcome, or at least endured, and that it will not last forever. In this business, there can be long hours and times when my husband is away. As a military spouse, you learn how to live life in whatever circumstance that the military places you.
What is something behind the scenes of the shipping industry you have found interesting since Travis founded IRF Transport?
Stephanie: It has been interesting to see how many loads there are out there, how different each load is, and the requirements of each load.