Company Equipment, Owner Operator Drivers of the Year recognized

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In the 21st annual Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest, sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association and CCJ sister publication Truckers News, three TCA-member company drivers were honored as the nation’s best. In the 23rd annual TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest, sponsored by TCA and CCJ sister publication Overdrive magazine, three owner-operators were recognized. Both awards, presented Tuesday, March 2, during TCA’s Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and involvement in their communities and industry.

The top three Company Equipment Driver of the Year winners are:
Grand Prize Winner, Gordon “Butch” Colvin, Con-way Truckload, Joplin, Mo.: Colvin has been a truck driver for 50 years and has worked for Con-way Truckload since 1996. Over the course of his truck driving career, he has logged more than 5 million miles; 1.6 million of these were driven while employed with Con-way. Colvin is part of a driver team along with his wife, Dora, who also won first place in the contest in 2005. Together, they have been recognized twice as Con-way’s Company Team of the Year and five times as Company Team of the Month. They also have received honors for safely achieving a million miles while driving for their company. As the 2009 Company Equipment Driver of the Year, Colvin will receive a prize package consisting of cash, gift cards, product, and services worth $25,000. In addition, his employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while attending TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Second Place Winner, Richard Gassman, Greatwide Logistics Services, Dallas: Gassman has worked for Greatwide Logistics Services since 2001 but has been driving trucks for more than 51 years. Over the course of his career, he has logged more than 4.5 million accident-free truckload miles and hauled everything from concrete to butter to clothing. In December 2008, Gassman was selected as Greatwide’s Driver of the Month for its Dubuque Operations Center, and in April 2009 he was chosen as the 2008 Driver of the Year from among thousands of Greatwide drivers at all locations. He has received numerous safe driving awards from the American Trucking Associations and the National Safety Council, and also has received the Safe Mileage Milestone Award from his company.

Third Place Winner, Brian Rhodes, Con-way Truckload: Rhodes has been a truck driver with Con-way Truckload since 1995. During this time, he has logged more than 1.5 million accident-free truckload miles. Rhodes and his twin brother, Bruce, drive together as a team and have been recognized as Company Team of the Month four times. They have also received their company’s Million Mile Award.

To be eligible for the contest, applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, including having driven one million consecutive accident-free miles. They also must have driven for a TCA-member trucking company for at least the past three years. After passing the initial phase of the competition, driver applicants then were asked to submit a final application form, from which the top three winners were selected. The application required verification of work history and safety record, a 300-word essay explaining why the entrant should be a candidate for the grand prize, and a 300-word essay explaining how the entrant is a good “Trucking Citizen.”

“TCA’s Company Equipment Driver of the Year contest recognizes the very best professional truck drivers out there,” says Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “Our 2009 top three finalists are all men of dedication and integrity that I hope other truck drivers will strive to emulate.”

The top three Owner Operator of the Year winners are:
Grand Prize Winner, Steven J. Recker, Warren Transport Inc., Waterloo, Iowa: Recker has been affiliated with Warren Transport Inc. since 1985. He has driven more than 2.8 million accident-free truckload miles. Prior to winning the grand prize this year, he had placed as a top 10 finalist in the contest four times. In 2006, he was selected as the Iowa Motor Truck Association’s Driver of the Year, and he also served a year on the IMTA Road Team. As the TCA Owner Operator of the Year, Recker will receive a prize package consisting of cash, gift cards, products and services worth $25,000. In addition, his employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while attending TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Second Place Winner, Woodrow Walker, Dart Transit Co., Eagan, Minn.: Walker has driven more than 4 million accident-free truckload miles and has been leased to Dart Transit since 1988. He has received a safety award from Dart every year since becoming affiliated with the company through its Dallas Operating Center and was selected as Dart’s Contractor of the Year in 2005.

Third Place Winner, Larry L. Severson, Dart Transit: Severson has been associated with Dart Transit since 1975 and has logged more than 5 million miles throughout his 48-year career. In 2004, he was selected as the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year. He also has received numerous safety awards from Dart, including the 20-Year Truck Trophy, President’s Safety Award and the Hall of Fame Safety Award.

The overall goal of the TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest is to recognize and pay tribute to the outstanding owner-operators who provide reliable and safe truck transportation in moving the nation’s goods. To be eligible for the contest, applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, including having driven one million consecutive, accident-free miles and being leased to a TCA-member trucking company. After passing the initial phase of the competition, driver applicants were then asked to submit a final application form, from which the top three winners were selected. Final application forms required operating information, verification of work history and safety record, equipment specifications, a business plan, a 300-word essay explaining why the entrant should be a candidate for the grand prize, and a 300-word essay explaining how the entrant is a good “Trucking Citizen.”

“It is always a privilege to operate this contest and get to meet and recognize the most outstanding drivers in the U.S. and Canada,” Burruss says. “When you look at the millions of safe miles they’ve driven and the many outstanding things they have accomplished, while still maintaining their personal lives and even managing to volunteer within their local communities – well, let’s just say there can be no doubt these drivers have more than earned the top spots in the TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest.”