The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and its partners Overdrive and Truckers News, have released the names of the 2020 Company Driver of the Year and 2020 Owner-Operator of the Year finalists.
Each year, the Driver of the Year Contests recognize company and owner-operator professional truck drivers who provide safe and reliable transportation of North America’s goods.
The top finalists were selected based on their demonstrated ability to operate safely on public highways, their efforts to enhance the public image of the trucking industry, and their contributions to their local communities.
Thanks to the generosity of long-time sponsors Cummins, Inc., and Love’s Travel Stops, each grand prize winner will receive $25,000, while the two runners-up in each division will win $2,500.
Company Driver of the Year Finalists
Betty Aragon of Tucumcari, New Mexico, drives for Wilson Logistics, Inc., based in Springfield, Missouri.
Wilson Logistics Founder and CEO Darrel Wilson said he considers Aragon a pioneer for women truck drivers and a consummate professional.
“Betty’s career began in 1977 when she purchased her first truck with the help of her father and she has over 5 million safe driving miles without a single accident citation or negative roadside inspection,” said Wilson. “Betty’s genuinely kind heart and dedication to her family, safety, and trucking makes me proud to have a professional like her representing our company and industry.”
Wilson Logistics Vice President of Safety and Training Scott Manthey added that when Aragon started driving there were no facilities for women drivers.
“Yet Betty persevered though these times,” shared Manthey. “It is people like Betty who have helped over-the-road trucking mature to the thriving industry it is today.”
Aragon has been driving for Wilson Logistics since July 2009.
Dennis Cravener of Virginia Beach, Virginia, has been driving for Givens Transportation, Inc., based in Chesapeake, Virginia, since 1972.
This year, Cravener will reach the 6-million-mile mark.
“Givens has been incredibly fortunate to have Denny as part of our team for so long, but every carrier should really be proud to know he is out on the road representing our industry,” said Givens Transportation President Trevor Dunlap. “Certainly, his steadfast work ethic and dependability to complete dispatches make him the most reliable of drivers. However, it’s his initiative and mentorship that make him so special. It is impossible to know how many driver miles Denny has impacted, but it’s easily in the hundreds of millions with the number of drivers he has influenced during his career.”
Givens Transportation, Inc., Safety Director Richard Salazar noted Cravener drives mainly to the Northeast section of the country and sees all road conditions, whether it be dry, wet, icy, or snowy where arguably road congestion is the worst.
“Dennis is very safety-conscious, highly competent, and a proven professional who adds depth and stability to Givens Transportation,” said Salazar.
Owner-Operator of the Year Finalists
Glen Horack of Elkland, Missouri, has been leased to Prime, Inc., based in Springfield, Missouri since 1996.
Prime, Inc., President and former TCA Chairman Robert Low said Horack has had a 100% on-time service during his entire time with the company.
“Having drivers like Glen is what makes this company so successful,” said Low. “He continues to give the best service to our customers and does whatever we ask of him. I am honored to have someone like him working with our company and am proud to consider him as part of our Prime family.”
Prime, Inc., Safety Director Steve Field noted Horack and his wife, Karla, often make a dedicated floral run to Canada and back.
“They have had to deal with all kinds of weather including ice, snow, and high winds, but continue to deliver the load on time, every time,” said Field, adding that Horack is always working to improve the image of trucking through community involvement and his daily behavior in front of customers and the motoring public.
Douglas Schildgen of Waterloo, Iowa, has been leased to Waterloo-based Warren Transport, Inc., since 1976.
“Doug is one of our finest and has made a lasting impression on how professional and dedicated he continues to be,” said Warren Transport, Inc., President James Schommer.
He commended Schildgen for his distinct ability to help others.
“He provides direct input he believes will help others succeed,” added Schommer. “From other contractors, safety staff, dispatch, and senior leadership (including myself), his wisdom and common-sense approach benefits us all.”
Warren Transport, Inc., Director of Safety Robert Sullivan said Schildgen understands safety has no excuses.
“Doug’s record sets him apart from most of his peers as he maintains his accident/injury free record by committing himself to safety before and after he steps into the cab,” said Sullivan.
Bryan Smith of Asbury, Iowa, has been leased to Tucker Freight Lines, based in Dubuque, Iowa, since 1993.
Tucker Freight Lines President and CEO Al Tucker said that since buying the company in 2018, Smith has impressed him by the way he is involved with his community and family, all while running close to 100,000 safe miles a year over the road.
“If you get to know Bryan, you will quickly learn that trucking is not the most important thing in his life,” said Tucker. “If Bryan is at the terminal during the week, you can count on seeing his truck sit in the yard until after he gets his three girls off to school. If he has to stop by the terminal when he is off duty, one or more of the girls will be with him. He spends his off time with the people that matter most.”
Tucker Freight Lines Safety Director Cody McClain noted Smith not only passed 3 million safe miles during 2020, he did it while hauling equipment and building materials.
“These are some of the most difficult and dangerous items to haul in the industry,” said McClain. “Bryan always takes the time to ensure his and everyone else’s safety.”
McClain said Smith is also a go-to resource for new drivers with any questions.
Each owner-operator finalist will be showcased by Overdrive magazine and each company driver finalist will be showcased by Truckers News. Grand prize winners will be announced at TCA’s Annual Convention – Truckload 2021: Las Vegas – on Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
For more information on the Driver of the Year Contests, visit truckload.org/DOY.