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Grand Prize Winners Announced in Truckload Carriers Association/Overdrive Magazine/TruckersNews.com Driver of the Year Contests
Owner-Operator of the Year: Gary Buchs, who is leased to Landstar System, Inc. and Company Driver of the Year: Murray Manuliak of Bison Transport win prestigious contest
At the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) annual awards banquet tonight, the organization and its partners Overdrive Magazine and TruckersNews.com, announced the winners of the 2016 Driver of the Year Contests.
The Owner Operator of the Year is Gary Buchs of Colfax, Illinois, who is leased to Landstar System, Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida. The Company Driver of the Year is Murray Manuliak of Brandon, Manitoba, who drives for Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Both drivers received a $25,000 cash prize for their achievements.
View the driver introductory videos which were played before each finalist appeared on stage during TCA's Annual Awards banquet.
The prestigious annual contests, sponsored by Love’s Travel Stops of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and Cummins Inc. of Columbus, Indiana, recognize the top owner operators and company drivers in the U.S. and Canada who provide reliable and safe truck transportation in moving the nation's goods. The overall winners are selected from the finalists based on safe driving, efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, and positive contributions to the winners’ local communities. For the owner operator candidates, business-owner skills are also judged.
Russell Stubbs, TCA’s 2016-17 Chairman, said, “The lifeblood of the trucking industry is its drivers. They work tirelessly day in and day out, but often only get noticed when something goes wrong. In recognizing safe, dedicated drivers like Murray and Gary, we hope to shine a light on the great things our drivers do every single mile.”
Manuliak has been a professional truck driver for 25 years, accruing over 3.1 million consecutive accident-free miles. He serves as an in-cab instructor in Bison’s Driver Finishing Program, which has allowed him to share his experience with the next generation of truck drivers.
“Murray is well-spoken and has a strong voice within our organization, making sure our business is a leader in safety,” said Rob Penner, president and CEO of Bison Transport. “He is a role model for all professional drivers to follow.”
Manuliak has also had success in truck driving competitions. In his first year driving in the Provincial Truck Driving Championships, he won Rookie of the Year honors and helped Bison to win Team of the Year, and he has earned 1st place in the Super B category as well as represented Team Manitoba in the National Truck Driving Championship, where he earned 3rd place.
Gary Buchs, the Owner Operator of the Year winner, has driven 2.3 million consecutive accident-free miles over the last 27 years, earning him numerous awards including Landstar’s 10-year Safe Driving Award, 10 Landstar Star of Quality Awards, and the 2015 TravelCenters of America Citizen Driver Award.
“Gary’s commitment to the safety and education of others speaks to his ability to represent our industry in a positive light,” said Jim Gattoni, president and CEO of Landstar. “He would make an outstanding ambassador to the public, projecting an image that is worthy of the industry’s safe, honorable, customer-driven professionals who deliver the goods that touch our lives every day.”
In addition to his work behind the wheel, Buchs dedicates his time to helping others and staying active. He spends at least one week per year assisting victims of major wind or flood damage, and donates produce from his farmstead to local food pantries. Buchs is an avid runner who completed the Chicago Marathon in 2015.
He attributes his good health to maintaining a balanced life. “When I make balance a priority, when I get home, I can park the truck and fully turn my mind and body to those other important aspects of my life,” he said.
Brad Holthaus, vice president of trucking media sales at Randall-Reilly, the company that produces Overdrive Magazine and TruckersNews.com, said, “Gary and Murray represent professional truck drivers who are skilled at moving an 18-wheeler from point A to point B—their safety records are in the top 2% of all truck drivers—but beyond their driving skills, they represent kind, caring citizens who are dedicated to helping others. As deft as they are at driving, they are even better men.”
Each of the runner-ups in both categories received checks for $2,500: Philip Keith of Long Beach, Mississippi, who is leased to WEL Companies, Inc. of De Pere, Wisconsin; Kevin Kocmich of Litchfield, Minnesota, who is leased to Diamond Transportation System, Inc. of Racine, Wisconsin; David McGowan of Marinette, Wisconsin, who drives for WEL Companies; and William Poteet of Lakeland, Florida, who drives for Saddle Creek Transportation, Inc. of Lakeland, Florida.