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Professional Truck Driver Institute Bestows Highest Honor to Chuck Wirth of American Institute of Trucking, Inc.
Recipient of Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award has been there from the start, helping to guide and shape the high-quality truck driver training standards that the trucking industry embraces today
LAS VEGAS, Nevada:
Charles R. “Chuck” Wirth, president of the American Institute of Trucking, Inc. (AIT), of Phoenix, Arizona, is the 2016 recipient of the Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award, presented by the Professional Truck Driver Institute, Inc. (PTDI). The honor was bestowed March 8, 2016, at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, during the annual convention of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), the organization that manages PTDI.
The Crittenden Award, sponsored by Cengage Learning of Clifton Park, New York, is given to a person who exemplifies the overall mission of PTDI, for which Lee Crittenden was a staunch supporter until his death in April 1998. PTDI raises the quality of truck driver training courses by establishing and promoting minimum training standards, and by certifying courses that meet those standards.
“Since its infancy, PTDI has always benefited from Chuck Wirth’s unwavering support,” said Jonathan Sheehan, marketing manager at Cengage Learning. “By all accounts, he has played an integral role in shaping the high-quality truck driver training standards that the trucking industry utilizes today. We are very pleased to present him with this year’s award.”
Wirth has been actively helping to educate adults since the mid-1970s. He has worked at ITT Education Services in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as American College in Mesa, Arizona, where he developed and instituted a truck driver training program. In 1991, he began working at the school now known as AIT, eventually becoming president in 2007. He has been active as a member and/or officer in numerous organizations, including the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, the Arizona Private School Association, the Career College Association, and the Truckload Carriers Association, among others.
His involvement with PTDI began in 1998, when one of AIT’s courses received PTDI certification. At this time, the Federal Highway Administration was holding hearings on the need for mandatory driver training, and there were many “CDL mills” operating, as well as blatantly false advertising of training. Wirth joined AIT’s then-president, Wade Murphree, in helping PTDI update its driver training skill and curriculum standards. He was one of the first team leaders to visit schools as they applied to PTDI to have their courses certified.
“Ever since those early years, Chuck has exhibited a tremendous grasp of what is needed to train some of the best drivers in the country. His knowledge of the industry, school operations, accreditation, and curriculum development has been exceptional,” said Mark Johnson, former director of national training for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and a previous recipient of the Lee J. Crittenden Award.
Wirth, who served on the board of directors for the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, soon became the CVTA representative on the PTDI Board of Directors. In 2005, he was elected to PTDI’s board, and in 2012 became a member of its Certification Commission. In 2011, he once again lent his expertise to PTDI’s Standards Review Task Force as it revised and adopted new standards for a second time, a process that took over two years.
Virginia DeRoze, who was PTDI’s program director in the late 1990s and is a former recipient of the Lee J. Crittenden Award, said, “Chuck is committed to quality educational instruction and administration, and is always available to PTDI and the schools to answer questions and provide good insights on how quality can be achieved within the school setting. He also brings his background and knowledge of accreditation, which often helps clarify PTDI processes and standards.”
The presentation of the annual Lee J. Crittenden award keeps Crittenden’s memory alive and serves as inspiration to others who get involved with truck driver issues. Crittenden helped many important industry activities get their start. He was passionate about promoting a positive image of the nation’s professional truck drivers, and was largely responsible for the creation of America’s Road Team. He also initiated a scholarship program for drivers who participate in the National Truck Driving Championships. His greatest industry achievement is largely believed to be his part in founding the Professional Truck Driver Institute, where he served on the board of directors and also as the finance chairman during the Institute’s infancy. Crittenden worked for Associates Commercial (which later became CitiCapital), the company that was instrumental in creating this award along with the Truckload Carriers Association.
PTDI currently has certified entry-level training courses at 59 schools in 19 states and Canada.