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It's a Team's Life

Terry O’Connell – Mentor & Friend

By Linda Caffee
Posted Jul 19th 2017 4:21AM

Terry was one of the first people we met in Expediting as he was the speaker at our first Workshop at the Expedite Expo in 2004, and I believe the title was “What is Expediting?”.  I took copious amounts of notes as Terry spoke about the career we were researching.  Terry laid the groundwork out as he spoke of what to expect from Expediting and how to succeed.

It was six month later before we started our expediting career and during this time I continued to read the Expediters Online Forums.  Terry of screen name TerryandRene always had interesting posts that were full of facts and I could not wait to see what he would post next.  Not to long after we started expediting Terry noticed from my bio on Expediters Online that we were from Saint Louis and sent a message asking what part of Saint Louis we lived in.  That was the start of our friendship as we lived about 20 miles from each other. It did not take me long to realize Terry had missed his calling to be a teacher as he took me under his wing and started his tutelage. 

In the next years, he shared his knowledge of expediting with the do’s and the don’ts and we had a LOT to learn.  Not only did Terry talk about Expediting he started getting us more involved with beta testing for the company we were leased to and to become more involved with Expediters Online.  As I started writing more Terry was my harshest critic and also my biggest supporter to do more and to stick my neck out and become involved.  Terry always knows when I need a kick in the pants or a word of encouragement.  Terry’s first career was the Coast Guard as a seaman and working his way up to Commander and retiring after 30 years.  Sometimes Terry uses his Commander voice and then he can be really intimidating and can throw some people off when he is really kidding and other times he is serious and we really need to pay attention.

Terry was still driving the van when we first started talking and he spent hours telling me about his life as a small child in Boston and his exploits.  Then he moved on to his years in the Coast Guard and I realized he could write a best seller book, in reality no one would believe it was not a work of fiction.  Still to this day I enjoy hearing of his adventures while in the Coast Guard and laughing over some of the stunts him and his crew pulled. His orneriness and quick wits keeps everyone around him on their toes and I am always wondering what he will say next.

Terry also likes to discuss about one of my favorite subjects for hours and that would be trucking.  When Terry accepted the Safety Liaison position he immersed himself and became knowledgeable about logging and all of the regulations that dictate the manner in which we are to ply our trade. We have spent hours discussing regulations and different scenarios that can cause our day to become less then desirable. The knowledge that Terry has imparted over the years is invaluable to us and has saved us a fortune and stress as we are confident in our knowledge.

My less than stellar grammar skills most likely frustrated him but he stood by me and pushed me to constantly improve.  Terry’s favorite subjects are English, spelling, and speaking which were my worst subjects and something I could have cared less about.  It did not take long for Terry to get me interested in speaking and writing correctly and I starting to see some of my very basic mistakes.  He still considers me a work in progress actually a very slow work in progress.  Now when I spell something so badly and spell check cannot figure out what I am trying to write I pick up the phone and call Terry who rattles of the correct spelling off the top of his head.  

Once when talking to a mutual friend Terry tore apart one of my blogs from start to finish and it was scathing to the utmost.  It was a sloppy blog and I deserved the tongue lashing, on the other hand as our friend listened to this tongue lashing he asked Terry to please NEVER read one of his blogs as he did not know if he was ready to have it dissected.  This is one of the reasons I trust Terry as much as I do is because he cares and his comments are meant to strengthen me not to belittle me. 

As we have gotten involved in other things that require applications or bios Terry has always had the time to proof read. His comments and suggestions clarify what I am trying to say and I know that he had been instrumental in our success.  Terry has been my mentor for many years and his confidence in my ability has pushed me to do more.  Our first time to speak at a workshop was a time of terror and I cussed Terry every which I could as I could not believe we said yes to speak.  Terry though was right, we found that we enjoyed speaking about expediting.

Over time went on we found ourselves involved in more and more adventures and involved with even more trucking groups.  We applied to be one of the Freightliner Team Run Smart Pro’s after much discussion with Terry and deciding if we really had a chance as an expediter to become one of the team.  Due to Terry’s mentoring for the past five years we have been a Freightliner Team Run Smart Pro. The highlight was Terry working on our application to become TA/Petro Citizen Drivers, standing on the stage accepting the award, looking down and seeing Terry as he took pictures of us, knowing he was instrumental in the building of “Team Caffee” to reach this point.  

Everyone needs a mentor/friend like Terry who can be our harshest critic and at the same time sing our highest praises.  He shares knowledge or anything he can to help our business and as time has gone on he calls and asks us for help on a project he is working on.  For the past thirteen years, I am very proud to call Terry friend and mentor.  Even though Terry is leaving trucking he will still be my mentor and friend as I know where he lives…

Bob & Linda Caffee


Saint Louis MO

Expediters since January 2005


Expediting isn't just trucking, it's a lifestyle;

Expediting isn't just a lifestyle, it's an adventure;

Expediting isn't just an adventure, it's a job;

Expediting isn't just a job, it's a business.


  • sbenisch - July 19, 2017
    Excellent tribute, Linda, for a well deserved mentor to a lot of us in our expediting community.
  • teamcaffee - July 19, 2017
    Terry has been a awesome friend to us over the years and mentor for our business. I have dreaded the years when he would finally say it was time to retire and I have to admit that it is kind of scary.

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