TCA recognizes Owner-Operators of the Year

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In the 21st annual TCA Owner-Operator of the Year contest — sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association, International Truck and Engine and CCJ‘s sister publication, Overdrive magazine — three owner-operators were honored as the nation’s best.

The awards — presented Monday, March 3, during TCA’s Annual Convention at The Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas — were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and community and industry involvement.

  • Grand Prize Winner: John Gill, Dart Transit Co., Eagan, Minn.: Gill, a former Overdrive Trucker of the Month, has contracted with Dart for more than 25 years and has logged more than three million accident-free truckload miles. He has earned the National Safety Council’s prestigious Three Million Mile Safety Award and has won every safety award that Dart offers. He is also a part recipient of Dart’s Contractor of the Year award.
  • When not on the road, Gill finds time to volunteer as a Trucker Buddy for a second-grade class at Southwestern Elementary School in Patriot, Ohio. He also volunteers for the Boy Scouts, the Gallia County Senior Center, the 4H and the Red Cross. He is a member of Highway Watch, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Legion.

    “John’s work ethic is a reflection of his strong connection to his family and the community,” says Dave Oren, Dart’s chief executive officer. “When he’s not in the truck, John fills his time by volunteering and spending time with his kids. We at Dart are extremely proud to have John as part of our team and think he is an excellent example of what this contest is all about – professionalism, dependability and safe driving.”

    As the Owner-Operator of the Year, Gill will receive a new International 9000i tractor (prize includes payment of the federal excise tax) with a Cummins ISX 500-horsepower engine, an Eaton transmission of Gill’s choice, and G300 series radial truck tires. He also will receive a GPS navigation system, four passenger vehicle tires, $1,000 business consulting gift certificate, $4,500 cash, $5,750 in truckstop gift cards and a $1,500 truck parts gift certificate.

  • Second Place: Billy Smith, Dart: Smith has been driving for more than 20 years and has contracted with Dart since 1995. He has logged more than four million accident-free truckload miles during his career. Dart has presented Smith with safety awards every year since 1996, including a five-year safety award jacket, a seven-year “Hall of Fame” award, an eight-year safety award ring and a 10-year safety award watch. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Smith volunteered for FEMA’s hurricane relief efforts.
  • As his prize package, Smith will receive a GPS navigation system, $2,000 in cash and $3,000 in truckstop gift cards.

  • Third Place: Jimmy McSwain, Sunco Carriers Inc., Lakeland, Fla.: McSwain has contracted with Sunco for more than 16 years and has logged more than three million accident-free truckload miles. He recently was nominated for the 2008 Florida Road Team, a select group of eight truck drivers who travel the state giving speeches and representing the trucking industry to civic groups, students and other public and private entities. In 2006, he was named the Florida Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year; in 1995, he was named Sunco’s Contractor of the Year; and he placed third and seventh in 2004 and 1995, respectively, in TCA’s Owner-Operator of the Year contest.
  • When not on the road, McSwain is an active participant in the Florida Truck Driving Championship and is a member of Sunco’s Owner-Operator Committee. In the past, he has corresponded with schoolchildren through the Trucker Buddy program.

    As his prize package, McSwain will receive $1,500 in cash and $1,700 in truckstop gift cards.

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