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Texas driver Mike Sheeds grand prize winner of 4th annual Road Warrior contest

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A professional driver of more than 27 years, Mike Sheeds has over 3.5 million safe driving miles under his belt. Sheeds has trained more than 300 students throughout his career. (Courtesy: PILOT FLYING J)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J has announced the winners of its fourth annual Road Warrior program, recognizing the “heroes on the road” with cash prizes.

Mike Sheeds of Bandera, Texas, Terry Lee of Robert, Louisiana, and Desiree Ridley of Davenport, Florida, have been named the grand, second and third place Road Warrior winners respectively.

Pilot Flying J hosts the annual online contest to show appreciation for professional drivers who go the extra mile to ensure that products and goods are delivered safely, securely and on time to keep the country running efficiently. Each year, Road Warrior winners are nominated by co-workers, friends and families of professional drivers across the U.S. for their hard work, perseverance and passion for driving. This year’s winners stood out from a field of almost 5,000 participants.

As winners of the fourth annual Road Warrior contest, Sheeds will receive $10,000, Lee will receive $5,000 and Ridley will receive $2,500, and all will join an exclusive group of past program winners. Nominators of these three winners will also receive a $500 prize.

“This year’s Road Warrior winners are inspiring and exceptional representations of the professional driver community,” said Ken Parent, president of Pilot Flying J. “These unsung heroes are on the road day in and day out to provide our country with the goods that make daily life possible. The Road Warrior program is our way of thanking professional drivers.”

America’s 3.8 million truck drivers are an integral piece of the country’s infrastructure, Parent said. This year’s Road Warriors are each making strong contributions to the professional driving community in different ways:

Mike Sheeds, grand prize winner: A professional driver of more than 27 years, Sheeds has more than 3.5 million safe driving miles under his belt. Sheeds has trained over 300 students throughout his career, teaching the importance of safety above all else. His awards and accolades speak to his achievements on the road, but pale in comparison to his dedication to his family. Sheeds and his wife have four adopted daughters, each born drug and/or alcohol exposed and surviving trauma, abuse and neglect. While driving can be a demanding career, Sheeds always prioritizes spending time with family and advocating for his children.

Terry Lee, second place winner: Lee began his professional driving career 34 years ago while serving in the army in the Middle East. Lee has overcome many adversities throughout his life including rebuilding his family’s home after losing it to a flood and being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia stage two blood cancer. None of these hardships hindered his dedication to driving, and he is still on the road today making his family proud.

Desiree Ridley, third place winner: Ridley, a long-haul driver who joined the professional driving community when she turned 21, is an advocate of millennial women breaking barriers in the professional driving industry. Throughout her recent pregnancy, Ridley continued to show dedication and passion for her job, driving until she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Even as a new mother, she continues to drive (now locally) six days a week while caring for her family. No matter what comes her way, Ridley handles it with strength and finesse — on and off the road.

“I am so humbled to be chosen as a Road Warrior winner,” said Sheeds. “Driving has been part of my life for almost 30 years, and teaching aspiring professional drivers to prioritize safety above all else is what has remained most important to me throughout my career. Experience will never trump physics, and I encourage all drivers to remember this on the road. I’d like to thank my wife for nominating me and always believing in me, and all of the inspiring pro drivers I’ve met throughout my journey.”

To learn more about the Road Warrior program and read about the winners, visit www.RoadWarrior.PilotFlyingJ.com.

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Stay Metrics releases Stay Ahead as new platform for survey products

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As the centerpiece of the Stay Ahead platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers). (Courtesy: STAY METRICS)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Stay Metrics, a provider of driver retention tools for motor carriers, has released Stay Ahead, a new platform for its suite of driver survey products, which include onboarding surveys, fleetwide ongoing/annual surveys and exit/departure surveys.

Joining these surveys is a powerful new feature that lets carriers make the most of their data, according to Mary Malone, vice president of business development.

“The Stay Ahead tool helps carriers stay ahead of turnover, stay ahead of driver satisfaction, and stay ahead of growing their fleets,” Malone said. “It’s solidly focused on the future and making that future as successful for carriers as possible.”

As the centerpiece of this new platform, Stay Metrics is introducing a new tool for reducing early-stage driver turnover (drivers who leave within the first year with your carrier, what Stay Metrics calls “new-to-you” drivers).

The Intervention Opportunities feature makes Stay Metrics’ proven onboarding surveys even more effective by pointing out exactly which drivers need attention to stay during their first year, Malone said.

“This feature comes with a redesign and significant upgrade to Stay Metrics’ Self-Service Reportal for clients to see their data and analytics. It provides on-demand access to a wide range of reports, providing full transparency and powerful options for tracking drivers’ satisfaction and retention,” she said.

The Stay Ahead portal works with the onboarding surveys to alert carriers any time a driver appears to be at risk of leaving. The at-risk status of drivers is determined based on a Stay Metrics proprietary model that identifies at-risk drivers based on previous research.

Carriers can also filter drivers based on their alerts and willingness to recommend the carrier.

An additional helpful component is the ability to export all drivers that have intervention opportunities on a spreadsheet. Stay Metrics recommends that carriers check the system once per week and export this list as a checklist for their driver calls that week, Malone said.

“At a certain size of carrier, you can’t realistically call everyone each week,” said Tim Hindes, Stay Metrics co-founder and CEO. “That’s why this feature is so helpful. It helps teams prioritize their calling time to reach the drivers that need it most and provides suggested topics for those conversations. The combination of who to call and what to talk about makes this the most actionable tool on the market for driver engagement and satisfaction.”

In addition to intervention opportunities, the Stay Ahead tool also brings to the forefront any questions drivers have after taking their surveys.

“This powerful communications tool lets carriers know what information drivers need right now,” Hindes said. “These questions have always been collected by Stay Metrics and sent to carriers as Intervention Alerts, which will continue, but now carriers can export a checklist as a helpful tool to make sure the team addresses each one.”

Industry professionals and media are invited to attend a free webinar demonstrating how the Stay Ahead platform and its new features work on September 18 at 2 p.m. EDT. To register go to https://www.staymetrics.com/webinar/.

“I honestly believe this could be a revolution in how carriers onboard new drivers and keep them beyond the first year,” Hindes adds.

Carriers can find out more about each of the surveys that are part of the Stay Ahead platform on the Stay Metrics website at staymetrics.com.  8

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Daimler celebrates 750,000th unit produced at Cleveland, N.C., plant

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The 750,000th truck produced at Cleveland Truck Manufacturing, a Freightliner new Cascadia, pictured in front of the plant. (Courtesy: DAIMLER TRUCKS NORTH AMERICA)

CLEVELAND, N.C. — Daimler Trucks North America on August 26 commemorated the production of the 750,000th vehicle built at its Cleveland, North Carolina, truck manufacturing plant.

Keys to the milestone vehicle — a Freightliner new Cascadia — were presented to representatives from United Parcel Service during a ceremony at the facility.

“Over the past 30 years, our Cleveland plant has served as the foundation for our North American manufacturing operations and has been an integral part of our growth, innovation and leadership,” said Roger Nielsen, president and CEO, Daimler Trucks North America. “This production landmark demonstrates both customer acceptance of our solutions and the strength of our team. As we continue to evolve our product offerings and technologies, the Cleveland facility will remain a critical part of our strategy and success.”

“UPS celebrates this landmark achievement alongside DTNA as we accept the 750,000th truck produced by the Cleveland truck manufacturing plant,” says Carlton Rose, president of global fleet maintenance and engineering at UPS. “We applaud the efforts made by thousands of employees across UPS, DTNA, and Peach State Trucks Centers to bring this milestone to fruition. This accomplishment signifies our companies’ continued success as collaboration transforms technology and service defines the customer experience.”

Freightliner Trucks acquired the plant in 1989 and started producing the Freightliner Medium Conventional, a day cab truck model based on a Mercedes-Benz cabin mounted on an American chassis.

Over the years, the product line-up at Cleveland has evolved as DTNA’s newest innovations entered the marketplace.

Today, in addition to the Class 8 new Cascadia, the Cleveland plant also produces the Western Star 4700, 4900 and 5700XE truck models, and the Freightliner Coronado and Columbia for the right-hand drive Australian and New Zealand markets.

Since the first truck rolled off the line in Cleveland, DTNA has invested more than $350 million in the facility, including a recent $27 million investment to add a new logistics center with state-of-the-art technologies to support the company’s lean supply chain practices.

More than 2,200 people are employed at the Cleveland facility, DTNA’s largest manufacturing plant in the U.S.

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Stevens Transport driver Dwight Arnold name trucking’s top rookie

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Dwight Arnold accepts the winner’s check for $10,000 after being named trucking’s top rookie during the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas August 23. (Courtesy: STEVENS TRANSPORT)

DALLAS — Dwight Arnold, a driver for Stevens Transport, has been named the 2019 Mike O’Connell Trucking’s Top Rookie Award.

Presentation of the award was made August 23 during the Great American Trucking Show here.

Arnold, 38, lives in Clarksville, Tennessee. He won $10,000 and prizes from the RoadPro Family of Brands and Rand McNally. Arnold also received $1,000 from his company for winning the award.

“It gives you a buffer so I can work harder and get more done, clear debt and prepare a better life for my family,” he said of winning and the cash prize. “It’s a dream come true.”

According to the Stevens Transport website, Arnold was born in Kissimmee, Florida, and raised in Jacksonville, Florida.

In 2001, Arnold, joined the United States Army and during his time in the service, served as an ammunition specialist, military recruiter and a special unit transportation officer.

Arnold received many awards in the Army, including the Army Commendation Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with a Campaign Star and an Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two stars.

After retiring from the service in August 2014, Arnold said he wanted a profession that matched what he was already used to doing and allowed him to see his family more.

Having experience in the transportation industry, he realized that a profession as a truck driver would be the perfect fit and obtained his CDL from Tennessee Truck Driving School and graduated from orientation at Stevens in August of 2018.

Today, Arnold is a member of the Stevens Independent Contractor Division and is driving in the company’s Kraft dedicated fleet.

“Trucking has given me the opportunity to make a better home dynamic for me and my family,” Arnold said. “As for my future plans with Stevens, I’m hoping to start a fleet with four to five trucks and I also hope to build financial stability with my family, thanks to the financial success that I have had with trucking so far.”

Arnold’s driver manager DeAnthony Montgomery spoke high praise about Arnold’s success at Stevens.

“Dwight is a driver that I know will complete every task presented to him with a positive attitude,” Montgomery said. “He consistently delivers every load on time and is a very motivated and exemplary driver. I am glad to have him on my team.”

Arnold was one of 11 finalists for the award.

The other 10 finalists, the driver training school they attended and their employer include:

  • Aaron Pratt, Maverick Transportation, Maverick Transportation
  • Bradley Chislett, National Tractor Trailer School, H.O. Wolding
  • Daniel Walton, Roehl Transport, Roehl Transport
  • Jaron Grier, New England Tractor Trailer Training School, U.S.Xpress
  • Kandy Qualls, United Truck Driving School, Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co.
  • Matthew Hepburn, Miller-Motte College, Melton Truck Lines
  • Oday Alhousha, CDL Xpress School, Hogan Transport
  • Pamela Girton (Coffman), Tulsa Technology Center, Groendyke Transport
  • Thomas Blitch, Roadmaster Drivers School, Werner Enterprises, Inc.
  • Tyria Snow, Diesel Driving Academy, TMC Transportation

Each received $1,000 and a prize package.

The award is named after the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and who originated the idea of the award.

O’Connell said he believed that honoring a top rookie driver helped show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry. 8

 

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