OOIDA life member named Company Driver of the Year
March 10, 2020
Even though Don Lewis was nominated for a third time, he wasn’t really expecting to take home the title of Company Driver of the Year.
Lewis, an OOIDA life member from Republic, Mo., received the honor at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual meeting on March 3 in Kissimmee, Fla. The honor included a $25,000 cash reward.
“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 a total of 5.7 million safe miles.
Raised on a small farm in southwest Missouri, Lewis said he started out by driving hay 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.”
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.
OOIDA life member
“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, British Columbia. They received $2,500 each.
OOIDA senior member Kevin Kochmich also earned $25,000 for being named TCA’s Owner-Operator of the Year.
Kocmich, of Litchfield, Minn., started his trucking career in 1979 and has been an owner-operator since 2000. During his time as a truck driver, he has accumulated more than 3.7 million safe and violation-free miles.
OOIDA members Ed and Tracy Zimmerman were named TCA’s Highway Angels of the Year for stopping to help a man who was trapped in his vehicle. The team drivers from Nebraska helped remove the driver from his vehicle moments before it exploded.