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TCA Honors Top Three Winners of the 2009 Company Equipment Driver of the Year Contest

Gordon “Butch” Colvin of Con-way Truckload Claims Grand Prize

Las Vegas, Nevada

In the 21st 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 2 during TCA’s Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and involvement in their communities and industry.

The top three winners are:

Grand Prize Winner

Gordon "Butch" Colvin

Con-way Truckload, Joplin, Missouri

Butch Colvin has been a truck driver for 50 years, and has worked for Con-way Truckload since 1996. Over the course of his truck driving career, he has logged more than 5 million miles; 1.6 million of these were driven while employed with Con-way.

Colvin is part of a driver team along with his wife, Dora, who also won first place in the contest in 2005. Together, they have been recognized twice as Con-way’s Company Team of the Year and five times as Company Team of the Month. They have also received honors for safely achieving a million miles while driving for their company.

Colvin is one of 12 drivers selected nationwide for an advisory board for Kenworth that helps make decisions that will affect the future of truck design and equipment specifications for the company. In the past, he has tested new engines and made recommendations for components for Con-way to purchase. He currently drives a Kenworth 660 truck equipped with an experimental Cummins engine that burns DEF (urea) in the exhaust, thereby putting clean air back into the environment.

When not on the road, Colvin is active with his children’s school. He helped sponsor the first successful all-night, alcohol-free graduation party, which has now become a school-sponsored event. He is also very active in his church, where he has served as a Sunday school teacher, Sunday school president, mission leader and Elders’ president. For 15 years, he has been part of a letter-writing activity for shut-ins and less active members of the church, mailing them messages from different states as he travels.

"Butch is a joy to work with. The standards he sets for himself are among the highest I’ve seen," said Randy Cornell, Con-way’s vice president of safety. "He continually guides other drivers in practices that are safe and edifying to the trucking industry. If he sees someone abusing the latitude of a policy, he’s not afraid to gently and diplomatically share with another driver how their actions affect the industry reputation as well as the company’s. As a result, the roads are safer, and the next generation of truck drivers will better understand their personal responsibility in making it all work."

As the 2009 Company Equipment Driver of the Year, Colvin will receive a prize package consisting of cash, gift cards, products, and services worth $25,000. In addition, his employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while attending TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Second Place Winner

Richard Gassman

Greatwide Logistics Services, LLC, Dallas, Texas

Rick Gassman has worked for Greatwide Logistics Services, LLC, since 2001, but has been driving trucks for more than 51 years. Over the course of his career, he has logged more than 4.5 million accident-free truckload miles and hauled everything from concrete to butter to clothing.

In December 2008, Gassman was selected as Greatwide’s Driver of the Month for its Dubuque Operations Center, and in April 2009 he was chosen as the 2008 Driver of the Year from among thousands of Greatwide drivers at all locations. He has received numerous safe driving awards from the American Trucking Associations and the National Safety Council, and has also received the Safe Mileage Milestone Award from his company.

"In addition to his outstanding safety performance, Rick continually demonstrates his integrity and willingness to operate safely while doing everything possible to consistently meet or exceed his customers’ service expectations," said John Simone, Greatwide’s president and chief operating officer.

Gassman’s employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while at TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Third Place Winner

Brian Rhodes

Con-way Truckload, Joplin, Missouri

Brian Rhodes has been a truck driver with Con-way Truckload since 1995. During this time, he has logged more than 1.5 million accident-free truckload miles. Rhodes and his twin brother, Bruce, drive together as a team and have been recognized as Company Team of the Month four times. They have also received their company’s Million Mile Award.

"While Brian’s quiet nature and ability to problem solve on-the-go might go unnoticed, no one can overlook his high degree of professionalism that follows wherever he goes. Brian simply goes about his work with the highest degree of effort and follows through," said Randy Cornell, Con-way’s vice president of safety.

Like Colvin and Gassman, Rhode’s employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while at TCA’s convention, where he was also awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

To be eligible for the contest, applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, including having driven one million consecutive, accident-free miles. They also 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. The application 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 very best professional truck drivers out there," said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. "Our 2009 top three finalists are all men of dedication and integrity that I hope other truck drivers will strive to emulate."