42-year veteran trucker is Driver of the Year finalist again

March 22, 2017
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Editor’s Note: On Tuesday, March 28, the Truckload Carriers Association and Truckers News will name a new Company Driver of the Year. Over the next few days, we’ll profile the three finalists. The first is Dave McGowan, who drives for the WEL Companies, an LTL carrier based in De Pere, Wisconsin.

Three veteran truck drivers — all with numerous years of service and exemplary safety records — will be on the stage during the awards banquet Tuesday, March 28 during the Truckload Carriers Association annual convention in Nashville.

One of them will walk off with $25,000 cash and the title of 2016 Company Driver of the year presented by TCA and Truckers News. The two runners up will receive $2,500 each.

The contest is sponsored by Cummins and Love’s Travel Stops.

The Company Driver of the Year finalists are:

  • Murray Manuliak of Bison Transport
  • David McGowan of WEL Companies, Inc.
  • William Poteet of Saddle Creek Transportation

TCA and Overdrive will also present the award for Owner-Operator of the Year. Those finalists are:

  • Gary Buchs of Landstar System, Inc.
  • Philip Keith of WEL Companies, Inc.
  • Kevin Kocmich of Diamond Transportation

Dave McGowan: Company Driver of the Year finalist

Meet Dave McGowan

McGowan, who lives in Marinette, Wisconsin is, in addition to being veteran driver, a dedicated family man. A Vietnam Army veteran, he and his wife have two children, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

How he talks about his oldest great grandchild exemplifies that dedication:

“My oldest great grandchild is 6 years old and she will sometimes call me while I am gone to check on me.  When I am home she is my little buddy.  We will jump rope, play hopscotch and do whatever she wants.  She always has me going so I need to make sure I can keep up with her.”

McGown said she is one of the reasons he tries to eat properly and stay healthy. He said he sometimes travels with his dog, who needs its exercise so keeps McGowan walking as well.

One of the questions asked as part of the contest is for the entrant to define what it means to be a good “trucking citizen.” Here’s how McGowan, in part, answered that:

“A good “Trucking Citizen” is someone who is cautious while on the road, will help others and overall is a good person.  I will keep spare parts and make sure I have tools in my truck so that if I need to fix something that is minor that I know I can fix that way I am not waiting for service.  Also I have these things so that if someone else needs help I am able to help them out.  I always try to be early to my appointment times when I go to different shippers/receivers.

“I try to be a safe driver and watch out for those around me.  When I am out on the road I try to be patient and not let things bother me that I have no control over.  I will help other drivers by giving them advice and tips that I have learned in my 42 years that will help them be more successful.  Helping others is something I am always willing to do and I don’t ask for anything in return.  If I can help them all I want is that they go and help someone else who needs help.”

McGowan’s bosses have high praise for him. Not only is he safe and conscientious, but also is the sort of drivers others in the company can not just look up to, but also look to for advice.

“Dave is someone who is a friend, a mentor and a positive role model for drivers here at WEL,” said Chris Tielns, president of WEL Companies. “Dave has 42 years of trucking, and he spent 22 years as an owner-operator and has driven over 6.5 million miles. We are proud to call Dave a member of the WEL Companies family.”

Gloria Srenaski is McGowan’s safety director at WEL. She said of McGowan, “He is someone other drivers can look up to, and is always willing to help in any way he can.”

Srenaski added that McGowan “does not get safety violations and has a CSA score of 100.”

And, McGowan is no stranger to being recognized for his work. He was:

  • A Company Driver of the Year finalist for 2015
  • Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association President’s Safe Drivers Club winner for 2016
  • Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association Driver of the Month for December of 2015
  • Recognized as an All Star Driver nine out of nine years at the WELS Companies’ annual banquet
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