Company Driver of the Year award goes to OOIDA life member
Don Lewis admitted that his knees got a little weak when his name was announced as the Truckload Carrier Association’s Company Driver of the Year.
Lewis, an OOIDA life member from Republic, Mo., received the honor at TCA’s annual meeting on March 3 in Kissimmee, Fla. The honor included a $25,000 cash reward. It was Lewis’ third time to be nominated.
“I didn’t have any clue I was going to win,” Lewis told Land Line. “When they announced my name, my knees got a little weak. I yelled ‘yes,’ and then I saw my wife (Dianna) stood up from her chair and was hollering. It’s still kind of unreal, but I’m very honored.
“I never set out to win anything like this. I just did my job every day and tried to be safe.”
Lewis, 70, has been a truck driver for 52 years and has worked for Springfield, Mo.-based Wilson Logistics for 19 years.
He’s accumulated 5.7 million safe miles. Lewis said 2.6 million of those miles were driven while with Wilson Logistics.
“He has dedicated his life to the trucking industry over his four decades of service by remaining safe through 5.7 million miles, training new professional drivers, and sacrificing his personal life to remain dedicated to trucking,” Darrel Wilson, president and CEO of Wilson Logistics, said in a news release. “The simplest word to summarize who Don is as a professional driver and his career is ‘remarkable.’ Don’s personality, professionalism and commitment to safety is to be remarked upon as a true professional company driver.”
Raised on a small farm in southwest Missouri, Lewis started out driving the farm trucks.
“It evolved from there,” he said. “I knew trucking is what I wanted to do. I tried working in a factory after I got out of high school. That worked out OK through the winter, but when spring and summer rolled around, I needed to be outside.”
OOIDA life member
Lewis said he is an OOIDA life member because he believes all truck drivers need a group that will represent them in Washington, D.C.
“We need representation,” he said. “It seems to get worse and worse every year, all of the stuff they try to shove down on us truck drivers. I’ve been really happy with OOIDA since I’ve joined. You can call and talk to them, and they’ll answer any questions you have. We can’t go to Washington, D.C., on our own and be heard. OOIDA can get in and talk to the lawmakers for us.”
Lewis said he and his wife haven’t decided what they’re going to do with the prize money yet. “Not yet,” he said. “We’re still kicking around some ideas.”
The other finalists for the Company Driver of the Year award were Robie Jensen of Fremont, Neb., and Randy Kuryk of Sicamous, B.C. They received $2,500 each. LL