Best Fleets To Drive For, Crittenden Memorial Award winner honored at TCA

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The Truckload Carriers Association and CarriersEdge, a provider of online driver improvement programs, announced the overall winners of the second annual Best Fleets to Drive For survey and contest: Boyd Bros. Transportation of Clayton, Ala., was selected as Best Fleet for Company Drivers, and Dart Transit Co. of Eagan, Minn., was selected as Best Fleet for Owner Operators.

Also, the Professional Truck Driver Institute – an organization whose mission is to raise the quality of truck driver training courses by establishing and promoting minimum training standards, and by certifying courses that meet those standards – awarded the 12th annual Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award to Mark Johnson, director, Teamsters national training, International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT).

Both award ceremonies were held Tuesday, March 2, during the Truckload Carriers Association’s Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev.

Best Fleets to Drive For is an annual survey and contest identifying the North American for-hire trucking companies that provide the best workplace experiences for their drivers. Nominated fleets were evaluated in areas such as driver compensation, pension and benefits, professional development, driver and community support, and safety record. The top finishers are identified as Best Fleets to Drive For, and the highest scoring fleet in each category is named overall winner. The survey and contest was open to any fleet operating 10 trucks or more; fleets had to be nominated by at least one of their drivers (either a company driver or an owner-operator).

Boyd Bros. Transportation won in its category for demonstrating solid and consistent results across a variety of areas. The company has invested in a simulator to help drivers learn and/or improve safe driving techniques, developed a mentoring program tied to the usage of the simulator, and established a benchmarking program to track and manage driver performance on the road. It utilizes structured performance reviews to ensure that new hires transition smoothly, consults with a driver advisory board to guide company policy, and offers a variety of educational and career development opportunities. It also maintains a formal wellness program and provides the services of a company chaplain, who conveniently doubles as a certified financial planner.

“The Boyd family has always listened to our drivers,” says Richard Bailey, president. “We want to address their needs in every possible aspect of their lives, from instilling safe driving habits, to helping maintain their health, to ensuring their financial stability. It’s good to know from receiving this recognition that our drivers recognize our efforts and are happy driving for us.”

Dart Transit Co. stands out because of its commitment to helping owner-operators do the right thing, and do it profitably. The company has arranged a large selection of different insurance options for their owner-operators and has used its size to arrange group discounts. It uses the same approach for fuel, parts and maintenance discounts, making it easier for Dart operators to keep costs down and profits up. To ensure that owner-operators understand the importance of those fundamentals, Dart offers a “Keys to Profitability and Success” workshop that teaches new independent contractors about the business side of trucking. When it comes to the environment, Dart has patented a new trailer design that allows each truck to haul 10 percent more by weight, improving fleet fuel efficiency and reducing the overall carbon footprint.

When he was told that his company has been named Best Fleet for Owner Operators, Dart Transit Chairman Don Oren said, “That’s terrific! At Dart, everyone who comes in contact with our owner-operators – not just fleet managers, but accountants, permit people, you name it – has genuine respect for them. Actually, I’d say it’s beyond respect – it’s really more like admiration. So we’re thrilled to hear that our efforts are succeeding. We will continue to do everything possible to maintain a strong working relationship with each and every one of our contractors.”

The Lee J. Crittenden Memorial Award is given to a person who exemplifies the overall mission of PTDI, of which Crittenden was a staunch supporter until his death in April 1998. Johnson has served on the PTDI board since 1999, including six terms as vice chairman. He has sat on various committees, including the executive, finance and nominating committees. Over the past two years, he has guided the Standards Review Task Force, comprising carriers, schools and insurance companies, through a comprehensive review of skill, curriculum, and course certification standards for entry-level CDL driver training.

“His is the service that all organizations seek, and have difficulty finding,” says Dave Money, chairman of PTDI’s Certification Commission and technical director-transportation for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., Loss Control Advisory Services Group. “In his many roles with PTDI, Mark has always been a source of intelligent, thoughtful and insightful wisdom. Whether serving in a curriculum, standards or legislative role, he has never failed to provide assistance and guidance correctly and in a timely manner. Mark has consistently provided the voice of calm reason on many issues.”

A Teamster since 1965, Johnson has been working in the driver training arena since 1992, when he was assigned as the training director for the Alaska Teamster-Employer Service Training Trust. In 2004, the Teamsters named him as a full-time national training director and tasked him with building an alliance between training programs across the country, expanding the program to address the needs of even more workers in a variety of industries, and developing a communication structure to share information about training between locals and other union affiliates. His participation in PTDI has been a natural extension of this mission.