The best in the business

By John Randle
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Truckers are used to getting slammed by negative media images, blamed for everything from traffic accidents to potholes. But the truth is the majority are hard-working, family-centered professional drivers doing their best under often adverse conditions.

While there are contests and award programs in most companies, the opportunity to participate in a program that recognizes the best of the best is one of my favorite things to do. This year, I had the pleasure of presenting the Truckload Carriers Association/Truckers News 2006 Company Equipment Driver of the Year his award at the annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The judges had an outstanding slate to choose from. Thirty finalists were selected on the basis of miles driven without accidents, moving violations or hours of service violations.
The judges also considered each driver’s history, company employment longevity and community involvement. The contest is open to carrier member drivers who have logged more than 1 million miles while adhering to their company’s high standards and are nominated on behalf of their companies. This exceptional group of finalists represents 16 states and Canada and includes more than 85 million total miles.

Out of the 30 finalists, the list was narrowed to the top five. Steven Udelhoven, with Art Pape Transfer in Dubuque, Iowa, won the top spot, followed by Eugene Hubbard, Regal Service Company in Ripley, N.Y.; Bruce Pfeffer, Smithway Motor Xpress in Wesley, Iowa; and Jean-Charles Huard and Denis Sansoucy, both with Robert Transport in Boucherville, Quebec, Canada.

Udelhoven, 43, was born and raised in Mount Hope, Wis., a small farming town where his extended family owns a dairy farm. He’s been hauling for Pape for 18 years and has always been one of their top drivers. Company president Loras Pape says Udelhoven is known for his meticulous attention to detail, good attitude and professional approach to driving. In fact, Udelhoven will hit 2 million safe miles this year.

The publicity surrounding Udelhoven’s award generates valuable recognition for the hard-working professional drivers out there sharing the road with everyone else.

Congratulations to Udelhoven and the finalists, all of whom go the extra mile to exceed expectations in their profession.