For Immediate Release
May 12, 2008
For Information Contact:
Gary Petty, NPTC
NPTC Inducts Four into Driver Hall of Fame
Cincinnati, OH – Four truck drivers who have logged more than a combined 147 years and 17 million miles of safe driving were honored by the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) and inducted into the NPTC Driver Hall of Fame during the NPTC Annual Education Management Conference and Exhibition held April 27-29, 2008 in Cincinnati, OH.
The drivers are from NPTC member companies and have met the minimum qualifications of 20 years, two million miles or 50,000 hours of driving without a preventable accident. Many of the drivers have far exceeded these qualifications and are known for having made significant contributions to their industry and their communities. Since its inception, 88 drivers have been installed in the Driver Hall of Fame. This year's Hall of Fame inductees are:
George L. Ertel
Batesville Casket Co., Batesville, IN
For George Ertel’s entire 41-year career, which spans 4.9 million miles, he has been employed by the Batesville Casket Company. While always willing to tackle other assignments as needed, his average week consists of 60-65 hours and 2,500 miles behind the wheel. In all his time driving, his only accidents involved hitting two deer and having two drivers backing into him – all non-preventable accidents.
Trucking is in his blood: father drove a truck for 23 years and his son has been driving for Batesville Casket Company for 14 years. He takes great pride in his job, his health and his appearance. “Maintaining a good appearance and keeping my truck clean has always been very important to me,” he says. In an effort to keep his skill-set up to date, he attends defensive driving courses and First Aid/CPR training. Before beginning in the trucking industry, he served in the U.S. Navy from 1963 to1966 with two tours of duty in Vietnam.
A member of Highway Watch, he says, “I have always been proud of my company and my profession." His dedication is highlighted by the many awards that he has received: Driver of the Month for the Indiana Motor Truck Association in 1992 the Driver of the Year for IMTA in 1995, and the June Driver of the Month for IMTA in 2004. Those who work with him say that he is “always dependable, courteous, professional, and a pleasure to work with.”
James B. Perkins
Trimac Transportation, Inc., Braddock, PA
James B. Perkins has accumulated four-million miles without an accident or a moving violation in 36 years as a professional truck driver. For the last eight years and 720,000 safe-driving miles, he has been hauling liquid oxygen for Trimac. He averages 1,800 miles a 65-hour work week. A driver trainer, he sits on Trimac’s Core Team, which is a group of four drivers that help facilitate communication between the drivers and upper management. He also is a member of the Trimac team that meets to discuss how to improve safety performance. He began driving following an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force in 1966.
According to Perkins, returning home safely is his main responsibility, and to him, “safety has to be a state of mind.” His philosophy is that two factors are essential for a safe day: “having a clear mind and focusing at work every day.” Additionally, the love of his family helps to keep him safe and “in the right frame of mind.” He also makes it a point to never get in a hurry, which can cause accidents. Because he acknowledges that it’s increasingly harder to stay accident-free because of increased traffic and distractions, he makes sure to employ the Smith System, Get Out and Look, and “the proper safety habits” to prevent crashes.
Overall, he makes sure to get the “proper rest [and] proper diet” in order to prepare for each day. He says without question, “I enjoy my job and my co-workers, and I take pride in doing a good job. “
Tommy E. Stoddard
Vanguard Services, Inc., Assigned to Bridgestone Firestone North American Tire, LLC, Memphis, TN
Since beginning his truck-driving career in 1972, Tommy Stoddard has accrued 3.75 million miles with no preventable accidents on his record. He was assigned to Bridgestone Firestone in 1980 and has a total 3.25 million miles of hauling tires and auto parts for the company. Currently driving about 2,800 miles per week, he runs a nightly shuttle from Memphis to Nashville with several drop and hooks along the way. He has delivered more than 3 million tires throughout the BF family of stores and his “work ethic and professionalism are an example for others to follow,” according to company officials. Before joining Bridgestone Firestone, he hauled groceries, fresh produce, cotton, soybeans, medicine, batteries, tires and carpet.
Because he is aware that as soon as others see his truck, they form an opinion about Bridgestone Firestone, he ensures that his truck is always clean. Moreover, he makes an effort to represent the company and himself with the “utmost professionalism [and] high standards.” Accordingly, he takes a lot of pride in his equipment. He is open to his coworkers’ ideas, opinions, and advice, anything that could help him do a better job. He always listens to his supervisors and he says, “I am always mindful to do my job above their expectations whenever possible.” In order to stay alert and safe, he strives to get proper rest daily and to be healthy. Above all he says that, “my goal has always been to do my very best job and to treat others as I would want to be treated.”
Kenneth R. Wright
NCI Building Systems, Inc., Houston, TX
In his 36 years behind the wheel, Kenneth R. Wright has accumulated a total of 4.4 million miles without an accident. For the last 26 years, Wright has hauled metal building components in an over-the-road operation for NCI Group, Inc. Typically driving 400 miles in each eight-hour shift, he has accumulated 2.6 million miles—all of them accident-free—with the company. His routes include driving from Houston to north-eastern Texas, southern Louisiana, and San Antonio.
An active member of Highway Watch, he holds safety as a core value; “I try to stay calm and self-disciplined, especially in stressful conditions while on the road,” he says. He also makes sure to “keep [his] truck clean and obey all traffic laws.” Similarly, he applies a high degree of professionalism in his commitment to customer relations. NCI values his input, as evidenced by his responsibility to test new equipment and programs. Furthermore, in an effort to stay up-to-date, he is an active participant in company-sponsored training.
He strives to live a balanced life by “remembering to fulfill both my spiritual and physical needs.” His approach includes giving back to the community and staying active in his church and missionary work. He also makes sure to exercise regularly and eat healthy, even on the road. Most importantly, he makes spending time with his family as a priority.
Founded in 1939, the National Private Truck Council is the only national trade association exclusively representing the interests of the private truck industry and corporate/business private truck fleet management. NPTC is the premier marketplace of information, networking and skill building for private fleet professionals as it leads in shaping the future of corporate transportation.
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