A 56-year-old trucker from Tennessee was named the 2015 Company Driver of the Year, winning $25,000.
It was the third time in four years that Danny Smith, a dry van driver for Big G Express of Shelbyville, Tenn., was nominated for the award. Smith received the honor from the Truckload Carriers Association and Truckers News March 8 at TCA’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.
Mark Tricco of Bison Transport, Manitoba, Canada, named 2015 Owner-Operator of the Year, also received $25,000. Finalist Glen Horack, leased to Prime Inc. of Springfield, Mo., received $2,500. The owner-operator honors were presented by TCA and Overdrive.
Smith, the first driver hired at Big G Express, is also the company’s first driver to reach 3 million consecutive accident-free miles.
“Twenty-one years ago, I made the best decision of my career to join Big G,” said Smith during his acceptance speech at TCA’s awards banquet.
Jack Marsh, Big G Express founder, hired Smith in 1995 and was at the banquet to see him receive his award.
“I knew him and knew his work ethic,” said Marsh. “He shows up every day and gives it 110 percent. He’s a leader among his peers and a fine family man.”
Smith mentors other drivers and often is called upon by management for his opinions on equipment and other matters.
“One way I maintain my professionalism is by keeping a positive outlook on my work, focusing on the good and not the bad,” he said. “I treat my customers with respect and kindness, regardless of the circumstances.”
Smith also is involved in his community. He and his family spend a lot of time visiting local assisted living facilities and nursing homes because many of the residents have no family in the area.
“Each weekend, I stop by to check on the folks I’ve built relationships with over the years,” said Smith, who also is an active church member and often speaks at community groups such as Rotary to engage with people about his job and the trucking industry.
Smith’s accomplishments and personal qualities did not go unnoticed when he reached 3 million safe miles. To celebrate, Big G Express employees surprised Smith as he delivered a load to the company’s terminal in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
“I couldn’t have reached this milestone without the support of my family and my Big G family,” said Smith, who describes safety as a habit.
“When I am driving, I think about each vehicle as if my wife or daughters were in it,” he said. “I am constantly anticipating what the other drivers may do that could present a safety hazard.”
Smith “is professional in everything he does,” said Big G Express President Randy Vernon. “His spotless safety record during his 35-year career is a true testament to his attention to detail and dedication to safety.”
Smith, previously a Tennessee Road Team captain, is serving as an America’s Road Team captain. He was Tennessee’s Driver of the Year in 2013.