I hear it all the time: Truckers have it tough. Truckers get a bad rap. Truckers don’t get a break. I hear it and I sympathize with drivers about fuel prices, regulations and unfair media portrayals. Then I meet a guy like Don Burianek, and I realize that he is one of those guys who are out there not only making it as a professional truck driver but also loving every minute of it.
It’s no surprise to me that Burianek was chosen as the Truckload Carriers Association and Truckers News 2001 Company Equipment Driver of the Year. The Crete Corp., of Lincoln, Nebraska, driver has driven over 2.3 million safe miles for the company in more than 19 years behind the wheel. That’s a truly admirable achievement.
Along the way, he’s also racked up numerous awards and has been a top 10 finalist in the TCA driver award twice before. While I am impressed with his awards and achievements, I am more impressed with his values. Burianek is a prince of a guy who puts his family first and takes his job as a trucking professional very seriously. He has been married to his wife Diana for 25 years and they’ve raised five children together.
I’m not the only one who feels this way about Don. Everyone from Crete President and CEO Tonn Ostergard to the mayor of his small hometown of Wilber, Neb., has good things to say about him. Ostergard’s quote, “Don Burianek represents all that is good in the industry”, sums it up well. Wilber Mayor Russ Karpisek says Burianek is a pillar of the community. “He’s the kind of guy who offers to help with a community project and then actually does more than you ever hoped for,” he says. Every year Wilber puts on a major Czech festival that draws more than 30,000 visitors. “Don pitches in and gives 100 percent to helping the community pull off the festival,” says Karpisek.
Burianek is excited about his award and the opportunity to enjoy the grand prize provided by Detroit Diesel – an all-expense-paid trip for two to the 2002 Napa Auto Parts 500 NASCAR race in Fontana, California. Stand tall, Don, you earned it.
If you know of other truckers who meet the high standards Burianek sets, ask your fleet manager to nominate them for next year’s TCA and Truckers News contest. It’s a way to recognize the good guys.