GREENBELT, Md. — The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance has chosen Charles Endorf of Werner Enterprises as the winner of the 2017 International Driver Excellence Award (IDEA). Endorf has driven 5.5 million miles over 40 years with Werner.
Launched in 2015, IDEA recognizes individuals who go above and beyond the performance of their duties as a commercial motor vehicle driver, distinguishing themselves conspicuously and beyond the normal call of duty through the achievement of safe operation and compliance carried out with evident distinction for an extended period of time.
Endorf admits that when he first found out that he was chosen as the 2017 IDEA winner, his first reaction was shock, followed by feeling honored.
“To me, this is a very prestigious award because it's handed out by CVSA, a safety organization,” said Endorf. “It's a total honor that CVSA thought that highly of my experience over the years on the highway to pick me.”
In submitting Endorf's nomination, Jaime Maus, vice president of safety and compliance for Werner Enterprises, said, “Charley's dedication and willingness to help means that we can always rely on him to assist other drivers who need a little coaching. Charley never hesitates to offer his time to help others. His commitment to the trucking industry means he wants to help others succeed as well. Charley is patient, professional and thorough, and helps drivers build their confidence.”
Maus’ description of Endorf and the qualities that make him an exceptional driver were quite astute, because when asked about his many years and miles of safe, collision-free driving, Endorf cited two main reasons – confidence and patience. He humbly added that a bit of luck helps too.
“Confidence is such a big factor. On every trip I've ever taken, I was always confident in my abilities and that I could make the trip safely,” he said. “And always be patient. It doesn't hurt to come in second. If you're at an intersection and there's somebody else there who seems to be in a rush, let the four-wheeler go first. That just gives you more room to go.”
“With more than 40 years traveling our nation's highways, Charley is an unsung hero among his peers,” said Derek Leathers, president and chief executive officer of Werner Enterprises. “It is truly inspiring how one person can make a significant impact on an entire company. Charley has demonstrated throughout his career that he cares about the safety of all professional drivers and all motorists.”
With decades of driving experience and millions of miles driven safely on the road, Endorf knows exactly what to do to ensure he is operating safely.
“Remember to keep your distance from other vehicles, be aware of your surroundings, keep your equipment in order, do your inspections and manage your speed and your time,” he said. “If you don't manage your clock, you're putting yourself in a position where your patience gets short and that's when mistakes are made.
“Know when to stop, whether it be for rest or for weather. When you're a person who is very motivated to work — and I'm that way — you just want to go. You want to make the delivery because that means you get to go home. It's hard to stop. You have to force yourself to stop. Get off the road and take that nap if you need to. Same thing with the weather. It's difficult sometimes to park it when the weather is bad, but you need to know your limits.”
CVSA's driver award isn't the only award Endorf has received throughout his impressive 45-year career.
He was Werner's Driver of the Year in 1981 and received the 5 Million Accident-Free Miles Award in 2010. He was also Nebraska Motor Carriers Association Driver of the Month in 1995, and he received the Citizen Driver Award from TravelCenters of America/Petro Stopping Centers in 2014. In fact, the Petro Stopping Center in York, Nebraska, is named the Petro York/Charley Endorf York Stopping Center after him.
“It helps that Werner has been a very safety conscious company from day one. When I started at Werner, we were a 65-truck company. Today, we're in the thousands. Safety has been at the top of their list for years and years.”
“We, at CVSA, are proud to announce Charles Endorf as the third annual winner of the International Driver Excellence Award,” said CVSA President Julius Debuschewitz, Yukon Highways and Public Works. “We are so impressed by his 45-year history of safe driving, his long-term commitment to the trucking industry, his dedication to projecting a positive image and his willingness to assist and coach other drivers.”
When he's not on the road, Endorf enjoys watching Nebraska sports, playing golf, attending his grandchild's sporting events and he is a regular contributor to various radio shows. He's also a Vietnam army veteran, a Lutheran Early Disaster Response Team first responder, he serves on the Grace Lutheran Church Council, he is a Fairbury Cemetery Association board member and he is active with the city council leaders in Fairbury, Nebraska.
Endorf credits the unwavering support of his wife of 43 years, Kay, for his long-term success. “Her support gives me peace of mind so that I'm able to concentrate on my job.”
He also wanted to give thanks for the safe blessings he has received from God.
“The good Lord gave me the talent to do this job professionally and I'm extremely thankful for that.”
Endorf will be presented with his award on April 24, 2017, at the CVSA Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia.