Traits of a winner

| April 02, 2008

Randy Grider

Six drivers – three company drivers and three owner-operators – were honored March 3 at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

They were recognized for being the top drivers who work for truckload carriers. The Company Equipment Driver of the Year is a longstanding awards program administered by the Truckload Carriers Association and sponsored by Truckers News and Detroit Diesel. TCA’s Owner-Operator of the Year contest is co-sponsored by our sister publication, Overdrive, and International Truck and Engine Corp.

What qualifications make up a finalist for these awards? First, a remarkable safety record with millions of miles logged over long careers. Secondly, a finalist’s resume must show commitment to stay with a company for more than a few months. No constant job-hoppers make the grade. Other things looked at are community service, educating the public about the trucking industry and mentoring younger drivers.

But these drivers shared other commonalities that aren’t as tangible as the lists of previous service and safety awards and driving records. Among them are humility, attitude and an appreciation of family.

During the awards presentations, the finalists all credited spouses and other family members for their success.

“I would like to thank my dad,” said 2007 Company Equipment Driver of the Year Doug Ladds of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. “He would be extremely proud. I’m a second-generation driver, and he instilled a strong work ethic in me.”

The MacKinnon Transport driver claimed the grand champion prize package that included a Cummins-powered Dodge pickup truck and an all-expenses-paid trip to the Grand Ole Opry among other sponsored gifts.

The two runners-up in the Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest – John Pipes of Joplin, Mo. (Con-way Truckload), and Steven French of Saint Cloud, Minn. (Anderson Trucking Service) – echoed Ladds’ feelings about family.

John Gill of Eagan, Minn. (Dart Transit), will receive a 9000i model International tractor powered by a Cummins engine for winning the 2007 Owner-Operator of the Year award.

“Honey, you have done more than your fair share, and I can’t thank you enough,” a teary-eyed Gill told his wife, Catherine, from the podium.

The other two finalists were Billy Smith of Eagan, Minn. (Dart Transit), and Jimmy McSwain of Lakeland, Fla. (Sunco Carriers). Both thanked others for putting them in the position to receive the honors.

Four of the finalists served on a panel earlier in the day, fielding questions from fleet executives about driver satisfaction. All were candid about issues ranging from onboard recorders and hours of service to today’s younger drivers.

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