June 7, 2010
by Julie Swidwa
UPS Man Has Drive
Fernham has always liked to drive. He grew up on a farm in Hartford
and says he drove tractors, motorcycles, scooters, “all that good stuff.”
Fernham, 52, of Dowagiac has logged about 700,000 miles
in 25 years as a United Parcel Service delivery driver,
all without an accident,
earning him a spot in the company’s Circle of Honor.
Fernham works out of the UPS facility at 320 Palladium
Drive, St. Joseph, and provides service in the Niles area.
He and his wife, Janis, live in Dowagiac.
Fernham talked with Herald-Palladium Staff Writer Julie Swidwa at the UPS
How do you stay accident-free?
I think mostly keeping your eyes moving and looking far
ahead. You have to have a good amount of luck, there’s no doubt about that,
especially in the winter time. The big thing is keep your eyes moving. Keep
scanning all the time, your mirrors, up ahead, and way up ahead, not just
one car length. You keep concentrating. You don’t daydream.
What do you like best about the job?
Being outside. I like meeting the people. I’ve been on
the same route for 22, 23 years and there’s a lot of good people down there.
I deliver down in Niles.
What’s your definition of a good day?
A reasonable stop count.
Getting done reasonably early, staying accident-free, and giving the
customers what they want.
And a bad day?
Bad days for me are after Christmas when winter hits. January and
February I hate. It’s a lot of stress and you still have a lot of work
to do. It’s demanding. If the roads are bad or you’ve got a bad storm
coming, it’s very stressful. Plus, you don’t see the sun once November rolls
around, and that’s tough.
What do you like to do on your day off?
Relax, catch up on all the things I can’t do during the week.
I like to ride motorcycles. I’ve kind of taken that up again.
Are you accident-free there, too?
Yeah. You don’t get many second chances on a
motorcycle. In the springtime I like to go look for morel mushrooms. During
the summer we go up to a camp up north of Manistee for a week with friends.
That’s really cool. That’s a great escape, really relaxing.
I heard there’s an interesting story about how you met your wife?
Yeah. She was working on the route down in Niles. She
worked at a veterinary clinic and she would make her order so I’d have to
stop by every day, instead of getting all her packages at once. We made a
bet on a pro football game and the loser had to buy dinner. It just kind of
went from there.
What game, what teams?
I don’t even remember. I think the St. Louis Rams maybe, and somebody else.
And who won the bet?
You’ll have to ask her.
No, actually, she won the bet.
Do you remember where you went for dinner?
Yeah, the Hacienda down in South Bend. That was in 1990, I think. We got
married in 1991.
Have any kids?
No, just animals. We’re both animal lovers.
We’ve got four cats right now. We had another cat that just died and a dog
that died last October. That was real tough. It was like our kid since we
don’t have kids.
She was a great dog. So it’s going to be a while before we get another dog.
Do you have a role model or a personal hero?
Sky Kellogg, I visited him yesterday. He’s a hardware
store owner in Hartford. He gave me my first job. His son runs it now. He’s
a great person. He’s like a second father to me. My brother is also a role
model, my older brother, George, he lives in Dallas. He’s like a best friend