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TCA Honors 2008 Company Equipment Driver of the Year Contest Winners
In the 20th annual Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest, sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Truckers News, three TCA-member company drivers were honored as the nation's best. The awards, presented March 10th during TCA's Annual Convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida, were based on the drivers' excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and involvement in the community and industry.
The top three winners and their prizes are:
Grand Prize Winner
Willis Shaw Express, Elm Springs, Arkansas
James Loveland has been a truck driver for Willis Shaw Express since 1998. In that time, he has logged more than 1.6 million accident-free, truckload miles. Over the course of his truck driving career, he has accumulated numerous awards, including being inducted into the 1½ million Mile Club, receiving a 10-year Safe Driving Award, and being selected as Company Driver of the Year and Company Driver of the Month.
When the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) asked Willis Shaw Express to provide drivers and equipment to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Loveland was the first driver to volunteer. He spent six months as part of a FEMA task force assigned to Region IV and was the last Willis Shaw Express driver to be released from his duties, because FEMA found Loveland’s flexibility and willingness to help to be extremely useful to the operation. Later, in 2008, Loveland volunteered in a similar capacity when Hurricane Ike bore down on the state of Louisiana.
In the contest application presented to TCA on Loveland’s behalf, Chris Kozak, president of Willis Shaw Express, wrote, “[James] is an ambassador of the roadways. He’s the type of individual that customers always rave about. ‘What a nice and courteous driver’ is the typical feedback we would hear all over the country. . . . His technical expertise, performance of his duties and sense of citizenship are without equal in the rich 70-year history of our company...”
As the Grand Prize winner, Loveland will receive the following prizes:
· A Cummins engine-powered Dodge Ram pick-up truck
· $3,950 in truck stop gift cards
· $2,750 cash
· A TagHeuer Swiss Avant-Gard men’s watch, valued at $1,500
· Two roundtrip airplane tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S.
Batesville Casket Company, Batesville, Indiana
Robert Harmeyer has worked for the Batesville Casket Company since 1988 hauling caskets outbound and miscellaneous freight on the backhaul. Over the course of his career, he has logged more than 2.4 million accident-free truckload miles. His company has presented him with both 1 and 2 Million Safe Mile awards and has recognized him for 17 years of driving with no preventable accidents and no moving violations. He is also a past Driver of the Year and Driver of the Month for the Indiana Motor Truck Association.
When not out on the road, Harmeyer brings his truck to the local high school’s driver education classes and speaks about safety around tractor-trailers. He allows the students to sit in the driver’s seat to get a sense of what truck drivers can and cannot see around their vehicles. Harmeyer is also a Trucker Buddy to a second grade classroom, exchanging letters and postcards with the class and allowing them to tour his truck. This past summer, he participated in the Indiana State Truck Driving Championships, where, although he didn’t win, he enjoyed the competition immensely.
In the contest application presented to TCA on Harmeyer’s behalf, Marge Davis, safety director for Batesville Casket Company, wrote, “Rob is always quick with a smile and kind word. He has a sparkle in his eyes and a laugh that is contagious. He has a natural curiosity and desire to learn about the industry, in spite of his years behind the wheel. . . . We are fortunate to have him in our company and look forward to a bright future in his regard.”
As his prize package, Harmeyer will receive the following prizes:
Bison Transport, Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Ralph Boles has been a truck driver with Bison Transport, Inc., since 1974. During his career, he has logged more than 4.5 million accident-free truckload miles. His awards include seven safe driving awards and two Driver of the Month awards from the Manitoba Trucking Association.
Boles sits on his company’s Driver Advisory Board and its Accident Appeal Board. Through these boards, he is able to advise, review and discuss policies that need to be changed, accidents and how they should be handled, and the concerns of Bison’s drivers and/or the general public. Recently, he has undertaken a new challenge: serving as an in-cab instructor. Boles uses his extensive experience in mountain driving to help all of Bison’s new drivers who are participating in the new driver training program.
In the contest application presented to TCA on Boles’ behalf, Garth Pitzel, director of safety and driver development for Bison Transport, wrote, “[Ralph] has had the biggest impact on our safety program and has been actively involved in many safety committees, from equipment spec'ing to accident prevention and driver training, just to name a few. I have personally relied on [his] knowledge and expertise as a professional driver, whether it was assisting us in shaping one of our programs or just better understanding the potential impact on one of our many policies or procedures. You call Ralph on the phone and ask for his opinion; he always says ‘let me think about this’ and you know he will be in our office in a couple of days to discuss the matter.”
As his prize package, Boles will receive the following prizes:
To be eligible for the contest, applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, including having driven one million consecutive accident-free miles and must have driven for a TCA-member trucking company for at least the past three years.After passing the initial phase of the competition, driver applicants were then asked to submit a final application form, from which the top three winners were selected. Final application forms required verification of work history and safety record, a 300-word essay explaining why the entrant should be a candidate for the grand prize, and a 300-word essay explaining how the entrant is a good "Trucking Citizen.”
“TCA’s Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest recognizes the best of the best,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “We are very pleased with the caliber of the trucking professionals who have been selected as the 2008 winners. We hold them in the highest regard as a shining example to other truck drivers.”