Trucker of the Year 2011

Todd Dills | February 01, 2011

Though his miles and net income dropped substantially during the downturn, he emerged strong and made the final payment on his truck last fall. “I could’ve paid it off months before,” he says, “but I’m always thinking ahead.” n

The company he keeps

Tim Walker led maintenance for Boyd Bros. at the flatbed carrier’s Birmingham terminal in 1997, when he met Dan Heister. Having come to know Heister better at Boyd, and now as owner of Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Truck Center, Walker says Heister is “far above 98 percent of our customers.”

Strong partner. Dan Heister utilizes Southern Truck for preventive maintenance on his 2003 International 9900ix.

Heister, too, appreciates his business partners, and largely credits them for his success. The accolades given Heister in recent years, beginning with a million-mile safe driving award in March 2009, extend from the quality of the company he keeps, he says. His nomination for the Truckload Carriers Association’s 2009 Independent Contractor of the Year award program — and later as Overdrive 2011 Trucker of the Year — came from Boyd Bros.

“If your company will pick you out of all the people they work with, that’s a really big honor,” Heister says. “If you only stay six months, it’s hard to get to know somebody very well because you’re on the road all the time. I know most of the people at Boyd now by name, from the mechanics to the dispatchers — everybody, including the owners.”

Steve Bredigkeit, director of owner-operator support at Boyd, says safe, profitable, dependable owner-operators like Heister are the greatest asset any freight company can ask for. “Dan focuses on that next safe mile,” he says.

2011 Trucker of the Year prizes

• Jacket, hat and two free oil changes from Castrol Lubricants

• A set of steer tires from Continental Tires

• A leather jacket and lubricants from ExxonMobil Lubricants

• A $100 gift card from Fleet One

• A jacket, tool tote, hat, travel mug and diesel treatment from Howe’s Lubricator

• A $50 gift certificate from Kaper II and Woody’s Accessories

• Leather jacket from Mack Trucks

• An iPad with Dan Heister’s name engraved from Navistar Parts

• Leather jacket, hat and collectible model truck from Navistar Truck & Engine

• Overdrive Top Ten Countdown CD each week

• Overdrive Trucking News CD every two weeks and an interview with host Larry Shannon

• All-expense-paid trips to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, and a trip anywhere in the continental United States, with $1,000 from Overdrive

• A set of steer axle centering sleeves from Tru-Balance

• A business kit from Volvo Trucks

For video of Heister’s cars and an interview with him, visit strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.