by Jason Cisper
To say that OOIDA member Fred Faerber puts the needs of his customers before his own is a tremendous understatement.
"Anybody who knows me knows that I've got to get out and do things," the Kingstown, NY, driver says. "I live to work."
Fred has been in charge of Smith Ave. Moving Co. since he took over the family business from his father in 1960. He spends the majority of his time on the road, however, delivering household goods in 22 states.
Fred drives a Volvo FE42 with a 250 hp VE7 engine. He says the truck is "a turtle," but efficient (enabling him to stay on the road despite the recent hike in fuel prices). "It doesn't get me over the highway fast, but the fuel economy is good," he adds. As his truck is equipped with a sleeper, he is often on the road for weeks at a time.
But the self-described "workaholic" was put to the test in the fall of 1999.
Fred was on the road when he began to notice a persistent soreness in his left foot. Determined to make all of his deliveries, he forged ahead with his load. With each passing day, the pain became more definite, and Fred says his foot soon became severely infected.
Between deliveries, Fred eventually made an appointment to see his doctor. Fred's doctors urged him to stay home so they could treat the infection before amputation became necessary. Still, he refused.
On Oct. 24, only after completing all of his deliveries, Fred checked himself into the hospital. A partial amputation was necessary. Luckily, doctors were able to save most of the foot, and thus, Fred's livelihood.
"They had to fight like hell to get me there," he laughs. "Most guys would've parked the truck and let someone else get the job done. I caught a lot of hell for what I did, but I had a job to do."
In his 43 years of driving, Fred has been the recipient of more than 20 different driving-related awards. He hauls an average of 2.1 million pounds of household goods annually (an average of eight rooms' worth of furniture, 260 days a year). He says he's never had any claims of items being damaged while in transit - a feat that is virtually unheard of in the household goods moving business.
He attributes his impeccable record to a "conscious, careful" attitude. A normal procedure is for Smith Ave. movers to wrap the items in the individual's house, load the truck, deliver the load and unwrap the goods in front of the customer. "That way," Fred points out, "if there is a problem, it can be discussed immediately."
"We're supposed to do it that way," he explains. "That's why we're called household goods movers."
It is this attention to detail that allows Fred to do business without taking an inventory prior to the move. "We work with the customer," he notes, "and we don't have a problem."
Since Fred's operation, he's been largely confined to local trips. His doctors gave him a cast to wear that enables him to shift and drive. They are presently working on a special shoe that will give him added support for lifting. He recently began to walk without crutches. But after spending the past several weeks close to home, Fred is planning to make longer trips in the near future.
"The team of doctors really did an excellent job," he says. "They were able to save enough of my foot so that I could walk steadily. And they kept me from having to get a skin graft. That would've kept me tied up even longer."