Well worth the wait

July 6, 2021

Land Line Staff


After more than 50 years as a professional driver, an extra 18 months made the reward that much sweeter for Ron Baird, who was named the National Tank Truck Carriers Driver of the Year for 2020-21.

The 2020 announcement of the William A. Usher Sr. Trophy was delayed last year due to COVID-19. Add to that, this was the third time Baird, who lives in Thorntown, Ind., and drives for G&D Trucking, Inc./Hoffman Transportation, had been nominated.

Naturally, he wasn’t sure if his name would be called, but that really didn’t matter all that much to him either.

“To me awards like this help every company do better,” Baird said. “It sets a goal that is going to make everyone drive more safely. You’re trained to be even more conscious of what’s going on all the time. It reminds you about not doing anything wrong, every mile.”

Safety is something Baird, an OOIDA life member, knows about. As of June 2021, he has accumulated 7.3 million crash-free miles and counting.

The announcement came in front of a crowd of approximately 500 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis, and it wasn’t until the envelope was opened on that night that Baird knew he had in fact won.

With only seconds to process what was happening before he stood up to address the crowd, Baird said it was quite the experience, but he was truly happy just being there.

OOIDA member Ron Baird named best driver by NTTC
Ron Baird, an OOIDA life member, was named Driver of the Year by the National Tank Truck Carriers at NTTC’s annual conference and exhibits in Indianapolis. (Photo courtesy NTTC)

“Oh, I was nervous, but I got to know a few of the guys beforehand, so that helped a little,” Baird said. “I’m just happy to win it for my company. It wouldn’t have bothered me if any of those guys would have won. I’m not looking to build a resume. I still have the camaraderie with the other drivers, and that’s what matters most. We all have the same goal. We’re trying to do better and improve the image of the industry.”

And the industry means a lot to Baird, whose history with trucks and trucking goes back to his childhood. His interest began at the age of 5, riding in tractors with family members, who passed their passion for driving on to Baird.

“I want my family to be proud,” Baird said. “I don’t just want to be another trucker. I didn’t always have much money, but I worked as hard as I could and did the best job possible. I’d like to thank my company for nominating me. It (winning the NTTC award) meant more to my bosses than I ever realized.”

Previous NTTC Tank Truck Driver of the Year winners

  • 2013-14 James Starr, Groendyke Transport
  • 2014-15 Bobby Weller, Hahn Transportation
  • 2015-16 Darryl Nowell, Eagle Transport
  • 2016-17 Todd Stine, Carbon Express
  • 2017-18 Paul Emerson, Foodline
  • 2018-19 Barbara Herman, K-Limited Carrier
  • 2019-20 Suspended due to COVID-19 LL