4.5 Million Miles and Counting
Oregon trucker George Dieu has driven more than 4.5 million miles in 45 years.
When George Dieu was a child, he didn’t settle for playing with toy trucks. He rode in the real thing, spending every summer in the passenger seat of his father’s 1948 KB8 International.
Unlike his three brothers, who showed little interest in trucking, the youngster decided early that he wanted to follow in his father’s footprints. In 1958, at the age of 18, he began hauling logs.
“When I told (my dad) I was going to drive a truck, he was all smiles,” Dieu says. On his first haul, his father tagged along.
Dieu, 63, of Coquille, Ore., has been living his dream for more than 45 years. Dieu, who has never even considered another career, has driven more than 4.5 million miles as a company driver without a single accident or cargo claim. For his remarkable safety record and dedication to the industry, the Truckload Carriers Association and Truckers News recently named him the 2002 Company Equipment Driver of the Year. He was honored in March at TCA’s annual convention at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Fla.
Dieu’s awards include seventh place in last year’s Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest. When his co-workers at Team Transport Inc., where he has worked for the past eight years, suggested he enter that contest, he thought he didn’t have a chance to win. “They asked me about it, and I’d never won anything in my life,” he says.
After the top-10 finish, Dieu decided to give it one more try. Team Transport business unit manager Les Fisher gave him the exciting news in late January. “I’ve been walking three feet off the ground ever since,” Dieu says. “I’m really thrilled about this award.”
“I think the smile was permanently marked on his face,” says his wife Patsy, 61. “It still is.”
Dieu’s ability to anticipate problems is what sets him apart from the crowd, says Team Transport CEO Keith Sherman. “He’s got the experience to know when you’re going to run into trouble,” Sherman says. “Anybody who’s had 4 million safe driving miles is a good person to look up to.”
Dieu’s No. 1 asset is his attitude, according to Mearle Royse, former CEO of Team Transport. “He’s very thoughtful of others,” Royse says. “He just wants to do right. You can ride with George for five minutes and tell how he’s achieved his success. He’s a real professional in everything he does.”
Dieu left local log hauling in 1966 for over-the-road driving. He transported paper products, lumber and chemicals for Georgia Pacific Corp. for 29 years until the company got out of the trucking business in 1995. Royse – then operations manager of GP’s trucking division – bought some of GP’s equipment and founded Team Transport. He recruited Dieu to drive for him.
Dieu’s granddaughter Dariane Clements lends a hand cleaning his truck’s wheels.
Today Dieu pulls double tank trailers filled with hazardous liquid chemicals like carbolic acid and formaldehyde, used to make resin. He travels for about two weeks at a time in California, Arizona, Oregon and sometimes Idaho in the company’s blue 1999 International Eagle. His truck number is R26, a designation he requested because his father’s truck was No. 26.
His delivery points are often on city streets, where spilled chemicals could affect a lot of people. “A flatbed, you just unload it, but chemicals, you can’t spill it,” Dieu says. “Going around corners, your load will shift. You have to be careful or you’ll roll.”