At The Truck Stop: Veteran driver who ‘always gives 110%’ snags National Carriers’ highest driver honor

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Steven Dixon holding a NCI hat
Courtesy: National Carriers Inc. Stephen Dixon has been driving for National Carriers Inc. since 2008. NCI officials say Dixon’s attitude of service pushes him to the forefront among fellow drivers.

The term good Samaritan is often used to describe a person who does good deeds out of compassion, not because of any hope of reward.

Stephen Dixon could easily be considered a good Samaritan.

He enjoys helping others, and his deeds were certainly noticed when he was named 2019 Driver of the Year by National Carriers Inc. (NCI), largely because of his willingness to go out of his way to help fellow drivers.

At the end of the day, NCI officials said, it’s Dixon’s attitude of service that pushed him to the forefront among fellow drivers, and it’s a key reason he received NCI’s highest honor. He was chosen from among the carrier’s 12 driver-of-the-month winners in 2019.

“I enjoy the camaraderie with the other drivers, and I share a little bit of my knowledge,” said Dixon, who leases his truck from NCI Truck Leasing.

“Yesterday a man from another carrier who was in only his second day on the road came up to me and said, ‘I don’t know anything about these reefers and I need to get the temperature set at minus 10 degrees,’” he explained.

The driver, who worked for a Florida carrier, told Dixon that even though he was setting the temperature correctly, the reefer was immediately reverting to the previous temperature.

“He didn’t understand that you had to program the reefer unit to stay at minus 10,” Dixon said. “So, I showed him how to drop the reefer to a minus 10, push the OK button and let the reefer know this is where (he’s) programming it to stay.”

The bottom line, Dixon said, is that he just likes to help.

“I see drivers get in tight spots, such as backing in,” he said. “They get sort of nervous and tense in such situations, and I try to do all I can to help calm them by getting them to relax.”

In doing so, Dixon said he hopes the drivers he helps will pass it on and help other truckers.

NCI spokesman, Ed Kentner, commented further on Dixon’s vital service.

“Dixon has made himself invaluable in delivering loads from our beef-processing customers in southwest Kansas to the boroughs of New York City,” Kentner said. “He’s learned the area, and he now helps other drivers heading to Hunts Point meat market and other delivery points.”

Dixon said COVID-19 hasn’t impacted his routine other than the fact that he is hauling beef, a commodity that, according to published reports, is going to be in short supply in the near future.

“In so many words, safety for all the truckers at National Carriers and around the industry is, and should be, a top priority,” he said. “My work has stayed consistent even as we adjust to the new environment of wearing masks and washing hands more often and covering our coughs and sneezes consistently. National Carriers have provided all their drivers with items to stay safe and healthy throughout this pandemic.”

Dixon said he’s available 24 hours a day if needed to help.

“I’ve helped guys when they call me late at night trying to get into the Bronx, Long Island or Queens,” he said. “I give them directions on how to get to their destination, and after I help them, I tell them, ‘Now next time someone calls, you can help them.’”

Kentner said Dixon’s “attitude of service” is the factor that pushed him to the front of the line for the Driver of the Year recognition.

“He didn’t become No. 1 by looking out for No. 1, but rather by serving the interests of his customers and fellow drivers,” Kentner said.

Dixon said he was elated when he learned he had been named Driver of the Year, adding that he was just doing his job.

“I try to always give 110%. If you need my help, I’m going to give you my help,” is Dixon’s attitude toward work — and life in general.

“I try to watch my Ps and Qs and help other drivers,” he said. “I help the driver managers out when they call me and say, ‘Hey Steve, I have a driver who can’t take a load. Can you help me out?’ I try to help them out. I try to help everybody out, so when I was named winner of the award, I felt my hard work was being recognized.”

Born in Jacksonville, Florida, the soon-to-be 59-year-old Dixon grew up as “a military brat,” living in Washington, Texas, Florida and Georgia just to name a few states.

After he graduated high school in Columbus, Georgia, he joined the Marines in 1980 and served six years. Once out of the Marines, Dixon found a job as a truck driver hauling heavy construction equipment. Eventually he ended up in a desk job, which didn’t suit his taste, so he asked to go back on the road.

“I wanted to branch out and see more of the United States,” he said.

Over the years, Dixon drove for several notable carriers, but eventually he decided it was time for a change. He called NCI, and said he liked what he heard.

“Talk to some of our drivers,” the NCI recruiter told him.

“I did and I liked what I heard. I called the recruiter and said, ‘I’m ready to come over,’” Dixon said.

“The drivers all talked about how well the company treated you and how NCI showed a lot of respect for the drivers by listening to them,” he said. “They said if the company told you something, you could take it to the bank.”

Furthermore, Dixon liked what he heard from Richard Reese, who was president of NCI at the time.

“He really laid it on the line and told us that if NCI’s driver managers put you in a position that you don’t like, ‘Let me know and I’ll make sure we get it taken care of.’ It’s very warm and friendly here,” Dixon said.

Current NCI President Jim Franck called Dixon a “truly deserving” winner of the Driver of the Year award.

“He’s consistently excellent across the board — in safety, customer service, productivity, and willingness to help get a troubled load delivered,” Franck said.

So if you’re out there on the road and need help, look for a blue tractor-trailer driven by a smiling, jolly driver with a salt-and-pepper beard.

It just might be Stephen Dixon.

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Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.
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