Stories of truckers going above and beyond…

Highway Transport’s Dennis Williams 20 Year Rolex Ceremony marks his 20 year milestone, plus 37 years of overall service. Simply put, Williams is one of those truckers who “Keeps Everything Rolling.”

The 20th Anniversary Rolex Ceremony officially commemorates 20 years of continuous service. However, Dennis Williams’ dedication to Highway Transport totals 37 Years. Dennis left Highway Transport to become an owner-operator in 1986. He owned his own truck and worked as a flatbed driver until 1997 then returned to Highway Transport.

“I just want to thank everybody and thank the good Lord above for having my health and being able to do this job. My family and my friends. It’s not just the company but the people you work with and you work for. That’s what really makes this company worth working for,” said Williams.

A large crowd gathered to celebrate Dennis Williams’ 20 Year Rolex milestone at Highway Transport’s Knoxville service center off Amherst Road. Dennis was glad to have his family attending: son Justin and daughter Melinda. Melinda’s 3 children: Lily Marie (5), Tanner (11), and Skylar (15) were happy to be able to attend the celebration for Dennis, who they call “Grandad.”  Melinda’s husband had to work, but the couple agreed to take the children out of school to see their grandad receive the 20 year Rolex.

The longstanding perception of Highway Transport continues to be one of family and tradition. However, the company has always been very agile, very quick to adapt to business trends. “We not only have the best equipment on the road, we have the best drivers, says Greg Watkins, “and we reward drivers for their commitment.”

Greg said to Dennis, “I am tickled to give another one of these out. It means a tremendous amount to our company and my family. I did not know that you were with us before and left in ’86, so it would have been 37 years. Your commitment to our company, your loyalty, and everything that you’ve done means a lot more than this watch is worth; but the watch is a token of our appreciation of what you’ve done for us and the time that you’ve put in with our company. And I want to thank your family too. I know it’s important to them as well. Thank you so much, Dennis.”

In his current role, Dennis works exclusively on the Knoxville yard making sure all the trucks are organized and properly parked. The celebration honoring Dennis was not a send-off. His plan is to continue to work 6 or 7 more years.

Dennis’s role as Grandad continues in nearby Clinton, TN where he lives directly across the street from daughter Melinda and her young family. Dennis’ son Justin also lives nearby, just a short distance down the road. Melinda’s husband Mike works many hours at Aisin, and Dennis sometimes pitches in to help the family with their busy schedule by keeping an eye on the children and sometimes mowing their grass. Melinda says there have been more than a few times she looks out the window then calls her husband Mike saying “Grandad did a drive-by mowing again.”

A ‘Distinguished’ Trucker

Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is pleased to announce Andra Rush as the winner of the 2017 Women In Trucking Association’s Distinguished Woman in Logistics Award (DWLA).

The announcement was made during the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) 2017 “Capital Ideas” Conference and Exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada. The award is sponsored by Truckstop.com. Rush was chosen among three finalists for the third annual award. The other finalists included Lacy Starling, president, Legion Logistics, LLC and Karen Duff, president and CEO, International Express Trucking, Inc. (IXT).

Rush is chair and CEO of Rush Trucking Corporation, CEO and president of Dakkota Integrated Systems, and chair, CEO and president of Detroit Manufacturing Systems. She leads the largest woman-owned business in Michigan, and one of the largest Native American-owned enterprises in the U.S. Her mission from the very beginning has been to create sustainable job opportunities in underserved communities.

The auto supplier was named Supplier of the Year for quality and world-class manufacturing by Chrysler Group in 2013 and Supplier of the Year for three consecutive years, 2013, 2014 and 2015, by General Motors.

President Barack Obama acknowledged Rush during his 2014 State of the Union address for creating manufacturing jobs in Detroit with the June 2012 opening of Detroit Manufacturing Systems – the first such plant opening in the city in decades.

Rush served two terms from 2013 to 2016 as a member of the U.S. Manufacturing Council, which regularly advises the U.S. Commerce Secretary on matters related to government policies and programs and their impact on the U.S. manufacturing sector.

She was honored in 2015 by the Michigan Women’s Foundation with its Women of Achievement and Courage Award, and inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2014 for innovative job creation and manufacturing ingenuity.

“Andra Rush is an amazing leader who epitomizes the type of woman we honor with this award,” said Ellen Voie, president and CEO of Women In Trucking. “She is someone who has set a higher bar for all of us to attain and who continues to inspire us with her accomplishments.”

The Distinguished Woman in Logistics award was established to promote the achievements of women employed in the North American transportation industry. It highlights the vital roles of women in the dynamic and influential field of commercial transportation and logistics.

“Women In Trucking has done a fantastic job of promoting women in the transportation industry and the Distinguished Women in Logistics award further proves that,” Truckstop.com Chief Marketing Officer Brent Hutto said. “As a company, Truckstop.com is proud to be a part of this award and we stand behind the continuing efforts of Women In Trucking to recognize deserving women in the trucking and transportation industry.”

Silver Spark Plugs

American Trucking Associations’ Technology & Maintenance Council honored two professionals with its highest honor – the Silver Spark Plug – at the opening of its 2017 TMC Annual Meeting & Transportation Technology Exhibition.

“The Silver Spark Plug is our industry’s highest honor, recognizing professional excellence in commercial vehicle maintenance,” said Carl Kirk, ATA vice president of maintenance, information technology & logistics and TMC executive director. “This year’s winners represent the pinnacle of our industry and we are pleased to bestow this honor on them.”

This year’s honorees are: Lou Stumpp, national account manager, fleet services for Navistar, and Rich Carroll, vice president of sales and marketing at Jost International.

“I congratulate these tremendous individuals for their efforts to keep our trucks, and America, moving,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “More than half of the 7.3 million people employed by the trucking industry do something other than drive a truck, and without them, our nation’s goods don’t get to our stores, hospitals and factories. These individuals are examples to all of us in this industry and they’re to be commended.”

“Only individuals who represent the best of our council in their commitment to improved engineering and maintenance standards through the development of TMC recommended practices are honored with the Silver Spark Plug,” said TMC Chairman Doug White, vice president of maintenance at Dunbar Armored. “I congratulate all these winners for their achievement and commitment.”

5 Million Safe Miles

Owner-Operators Allen and Sandy Smith have been named Driver of the Year at National Carriers Inc. Joining the firm in 1987, the Smith team is quickly approaching their 30th anniversary with the “Elite” Fleet.

Delivering over 4,000 loads during the team’s tenure, they have driven more than five million miles without a reportable accident. The award presentation came at the conclusion of the annual NCI Driver of the Year banquet. Among the Smiths’ many gifts was a check for $5,000.

“Not many drivers stay with the same company for 30 years, but, on the other hand, not many companies stay in business that long either. National has been here nearly 50 years. When I interviewed to lease my truck on, I told them I wanted to work for a company that could keep me busy and get me home to West Virginia. National Carriers has done both,” remarked Allen Smith.

National Carriers President Jim Franck said Allen and Sandy exemplify the “Elite” Fleet. “They always have a positive, can-do attitude. They go out of their way to be professional in everything they do. They have set a high standard for those who follow in their footsteps. Thank you for all you do. It’s my privilege to work alongside you,” he said.

Director of Operations Lex Mendenhall shared, “Allen and Sandy are the most unassuming folks you will ever meet. Humble and dedicated, together they form one of the best owner-operator businesses in the transportation industry. During a period when freight has seen an economic downturn, the Smiths are experiencing a business uptick. Their business sense is outstanding.”