When Scott McCurry took the podium March 5 to accept the Truckload Carriers Association’s 2001 Independent Contractor of the Year award, he asked “all who traveled here to help me accept this great honor” to stand. Thirty people – all family members from the tiny farming community of Eagle Grove, Iowa – rose and applauded. Soon everyone in the ballroom of Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel was standing in tribute to McCurry and his outstanding trucking career.
McCurry dedicated the award to his father, who lost his battle with cancer last summer. “I know he rides with me,” he said.
McCurry’s journey from Eagle Grove to Las Vegas took 32 years and nearly 3.5 million safe miles. He started his trucking career at the age of 15, when the owner of the local cheese factory stopped him on the last day of school to ask if he wanted to drive a milk truck for the summer. McCurry told him he didn’t have a license. Unconcerned, the owner assured him the route was all gravel roads. “I guess I’ve been hauling something ever since,” he says.
Today, McCurry pulls a flatbed, hauling building materials for the former Umthun Trucking, which recently became Decker Truck Line. McCurry’s dad drove for Umthun for 20 years before a stroke ended his trucking career, and his son David joined Umthun in 1987 as a diesel mechanic. McCurry started driving for Umthun in 1969 and became an owner-operator in 1988. He now works in a division that serves customers who demand a high level of service. By all accounts, he delivers.
“There have been several times when the roads have been bad and Scotty has called me at home to let me know of a late arrival,” wrote customer Jim McClure of KMAC in Hutchinson, Minn., in a letter of commendation. “A more courteous person I have never met.”
To McCurry, courtesy and exemplary service are all in a day’s work. “You’ve got to put customers first,” he says matter-of-factly. “You can’t be successful without them.”
If awards are a measure of success, McCurry comes out on top. He has chalked up 14 consecutive years of safe driving awards since 1988. He took first place four times in the Iowa Truck Roadeo’s five-axle tank division and has participated several times in the American Trucking Associations National Truck Roadeo. He is a seven-time finalist in the TCA Independent Contractor of the Year contest.
Despite his many honors, McCurry still finds time to make a difference in the lives of others. He has made several trips to the Appalachian Mountains, hauling loads of clothes and gifts to needy people. He is always willing to help stranded four-wheelers and truck drivers and even attempted to save the life of a fellow trucker whose tanker had overturned. “The motorists I have met along the highway are like visitors in my home,” McCurry says. “The courtesy I have shown them and the assistance I have provided are just a part of my job.”
In his free time McCurry fishes with buddies or tinkers on his 1990 Freightliner FLD-120, which he describes as “like new.” He tells of a recent weekend spent putting a crankshaft in his son-in-law’s pickup on one side of his shop while conducting an in-frame overhaul of a friend’s N14 engine on the other side. “I don’t think there are any tools left in my toolbox,” McCurry jokes. “But everything was running by Sunday night.”
When he’s not helping friends and family members with their vehicles, McCurry is always willing to help other drivers be successful. He is actively involved in Umthun’s safety programs, including its Million Mile Club. And he has a few words of advice for younger drivers: “Take pride in your work. Treat your customers and everyone else like you’d like to be treated. Keep a smile on your face. And keep going.”
Which is exactly what McCurry plans to do. “I’m going to keep trucking till they start kicking dirt in my face,” he says. And from behind the wheel of his grand prize International 9000i, he’ll be doing it in style.
McCurry’s entire family joined him in Las Vegas, including (left to right) his son David, wife Ellen, daughter DeAnn and son-in-law Adam.
TO THE WINNER GO THE SPOILS
As the Truckload Carriers Association’s 2001 Independent Contractor of the Year, Scott McCurry will receive many prizes, including a 2003 International 9000i Series tractor powered by a Cummins Signature 600. The tractor comes equipped with an Eaton transmission, Goodyear G300 series radial tires, a Fontaine International No-Slack II Air Slide fifth wheel, a wheel-end kit from ArvinMeritor, a pair of National Premium cloth seats and a set of West Coast mirrors from Velvac.
McCurry will also receive: