EDITOR’S NOTE: Later this week and early next, members of the Truckload Carriers Association gather at the Wynn Las Vegas Resort for the organizations 78th annual convention. One of the highlights of the event is announcing the TCA company driver and owner/operator of the year. In the next few days, Truckers News will introduce the three finalists for the company driver of the year award in their own words and those of their colleagues. The contest is conducted by the Truckload Carriers Association, “Overdrive” and “Truckers News”, and sponsored by Cummins and Love’s Travel Stops.
- Driver: Danny Smith
- Company: Big G Express, Shelbyville, Tennessee
- From: Shelbyville, Tennessee
- Age: 58 years old
- Experience: Driving 20 years
- Mileage: 2,963,331 miles
- Type of Driving: Dry van
Being a finalist for the Truckload Carriers Association’s Company Driver of the Year Award is nothing new for Danny Smith. The 58-year-old dry van driver for Big G Express in Shelbyville, Tennessee was a finalist last year as well. He was also the first driver hired when Jack Marsh founded the company in 1995 and is one of the American Trucking Associations’ America’s Road Team Captains.
On Being A Truck Driver
“All my adult life, I have been in the trucking industry. Often I hear, ‘You are a truck driver? I would never have known that!’ I believe that statement is made because I am extremely family-oriented and active in my community. Additionally, my clean-cut appearance and professional approach to my job have helped me overcome any negative stereotypes of being a truck driver.
“One way I maintain my professionalism is by keeping a positive outlook on my work, focusing on the good and not the bad. I treat my customers with respect and kindness regardless of the circumstances surrounding the delivery.”
“With almost 3 million accident-free miles, safety is my priority. I believe that trucking regulations have been created to keep both me and everyone else on the road as safe as possible. When I am driving, I think about each vehicle as if my wife or daughters were in it. I am constantly anticipating what the other drivers may do that could present a safety hazard.”
On Helping Other Drivers
“As a senior driver at my company, I enjoy mentoring drivers. Not just new drivers, but also older ones that may feel stress from the many changes in the industry. For new drivers, I familiarize them with our company’s policies, give advice on efficiently managing time using our e-logs, and provide pointers on navigating the roads. When talking with older drivers, I often discuss concerns and attempt to find a solution for challenges they are facing.
On Providing the Driver’s Perspective
“When Big G is going to purchase new equipment, they always ask for my input. Since I give well-rounded feedback from the driver’s perspective, I have become a driver representative for the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) Employee Committee. This allows me to represent my fellow drivers, help answer questions, and increase awareness about the ESOP Program at Big G.”
On Life When Not Driving
“When I’m off the road, I love being a part of my community in Shelbyville, TN. I hope this also improves the image of a professional driver. My family and I spend a lot of time visiting local assisted living facilities and nursing homes, since many of the residents have no family in the area. Each weekend, I stop by to check on the folks I’ve built relationships with over the years. I also am an active church member and often speak at community groups, like Rotary, to engage with people about my job and the trucking industry.”
On The Challenge of Being A Healthy Driver
“As a professional driver, one of the biggest challenges is living a healthy lifestyle. When choosing what to eat, I try to pick foods that will keep my body fueled without a lot of sugar and fat. I pack healthy foods from home, so I can have fruit and vegetables in my truck.
“Not being a person who naturally enjoys exercise, I have started a little daily competition with my wife. We use an iPhone app that tracks how many steps you take each day. When we talk in the evening, we compare our number of steps to see who has walked the most.
“Most important for me is my mental health. I need to be mentally healthy to be a safe driver. If a driver is preoccupied with a problem, it will affect his or her ability to be safe and productive. By starting each day with an uplifting thought and a time of silence, I am able focus on driving.”
Randy Vernon, President of Big G Express
“Danny is the epitome of professionalism when it comes to representing Big G Express and the trucking industry itself. He always presents the best possible outlook on a situation, emphasizing what is good instead of dwelling on the negative. Danny is respectful, well spoken and clean cut. He can mingle in a room of top executives or strike up a conversation in a truck stop. He is an excellent example of a good trucking citizen both on the road and at home. “
Kristi Seibers, Vice President of Safety for Big G Express
“Danny Smith is the type of driver every Safety Department dreams of. Not only does Danny follow the laws and policies put into place, but he also acts as a mentor to other drivers and helps promote safety throughout the fleet. Without any formal mentorship program in place or any extra compensation, Danny has taken drivers under his wing and guided them through Big G’s processes to help them adapt and increase their chances of success in the company. Safety to Danny is more than ‘just’ following the rules and obeying the law. He goes above and beyond to promote safety and a positive image for the trucking industry.”