Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Alabama Trucking celebrates state’s safest fleets and individuals

PELHAM, Ala. — In its first live major event since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic one year ago, the Alabama Trucking Association and the ATA Comp Fund celebrated dozens of the state’s safest fleets, managers, and employees during the ATA’s Annual Fleet Safety Awards Banquet held here March 22.

Held each spring, ATA’s awards follow the American Trucking Associations’ criteria for fleet safety recognition and are judged by an independent panel of experts from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) who pore over complex safety stats and parameters based on miles operated within the state. All safety information is pulled from the previous calendar year, in this case, 2019-2020 — which is why they are referred to as the “2020 awards.” 

Driver of the Year

The evening’s big winner was LB3, LLC. veteran truck driver Nathan Heflin of Lineville, Ala., who earned Professional Truck Driver of the Year for an exceptional driving career and a dedication to safety excellence.

Heflin has driven for LB3 for five years and successfully logged nearly 2-million safe driving miles in 15 years. LB3 officials say Heflin has emerged as a leader who consistently sets the example with a commitment to details and professionalism. For that effort, he’s earned LB3’s 4- and 5-year safe driving awards and was recently selected as its top driver, an award chosen by fellow LB3 drivers. He also serves as a road test examiner for the company assessing and training all new hires. 

“The most important thing for me as a professional driver is paying attention to my surroundings,” he says. “It starts with the pre-trip inspection. I make sure my equipment is ready for the day. Once I am on the road, I am mindful of everything and everyone around me.”

LB3 co-founder and President Brian Lindley of LB3 says what sets Nathan apart is consistency. “He is one of the most meticulous people I have ever met,” Lindley says. “He is conscientious about the vehicle and equipment to the point that sometimes I wonder if he is a little too nitpicky. Truth be told, he’s usually right, and I would rather have drivers who really care about the attention to detail. Those are the ones you want to retain, and those are the ones who will ultimately make you look good.”

Heflin says the key to his success in trucking is a willingness to work hard to get the job done. “It’s really that simple,” he says. “My job is important to me, and I want to always have the willingness to do the jobs that no one else wants to do — and do it well. I am dedicated to trucking, but I am also dedicated to my family, and I want to spend as much time at home with them as possible. That’s probably the biggest motivator for me as a professional truck driver.”

The Driver of the Year Runner Up is Jason Webber also of LB3. The award is sponsored by Southland Transportation Group.

Safety Professional

Valerie Lindley isn’t much for the spotlight. She’s a no-nonsense fleet manager who prides herself on staying behind-the-scenes while she pays close attention to the details others might miss. In her view, the granular tasks of trucking add up to build a successful safety program. And the one she has built at LB3, LLC is among the best.

In 2014, she left a successful career as a teacher to help her husband Brian start a trucking company from scratch. She had no experience in trucking, other than occasionally helping out with bookkeeping or other administrative tasks for the family’s poultry farm business. Yet, she was a quick study, smartly used her resources, and has been instrumental in the company’s meteoric growth and success.

Most safety directors serve several roles for trucking businesses, and Valerie is without question the lifeblood for hers. Leaning on her experience and organizational capabilities she used in the classroom, along with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Jacksonville State University in Education, she handles all the small trucking company’s administrative duties, including payroll, bookkeeping, safety compliance, personnel, and other tasks.

Valerie is active and participates regularly in ATA and ATA Comp Fund functions. Attends various activities such as SMMC meetings, TDC’s, training sessions, conventions, and roadside inspections — experiences she says have afforded her extensive regulatory knowledge about the industry and built valuable relationships with others in the industry. 

She is also a dedicated mother and community leader, and her time away from the office is just as impressive as her professional work. She and Brian share the homeschooling of their three daughters, Maggie, Ella and Claire, She’s also active with her church, serving as a Deacon’s wife, church pianist, couples’ retreat coordinator, and a foster care fundraiser participant.

Safety Professional of the Year Runner Up is Curtis Roberts of Montgomery Transport, LLC. The Safety Professional of the Year award is sponsored by Four Star Freightliner.

Maintenance Professional

LB3, LLC (you’ve probably heard of them before) maintenance director Todd Martin has worked in trucking for more than 23 years and is among the state’s most technically trained maintenance pros. Through the years, he has received dozens of certifications in various maintenance and leadership programs; holds a Diesel Technology degree; and possesses a current Class-A CDL.

He began his career as a Tech 1 mechanic and worked his way to becoming service manager and safety coordinator at a branch location with a leading truck rental organization. His extensive training and experience have provided LB3 a 20-percent reduction in vehicle inspection violations.

LB3’s Brian Lindley calls Martin a no excuses, get the job done professionally kind of manager who takes pride in his work and is a true asset to the team. 

“Because of Todd’s leadership, our equipment and drivers are safer than we have ever been,” he says. “If you ask him about the importance of his role as maintenance director, he’ll tell you that safety is always his main focus.” 

Martin lives in Ashville, Ala. where, in his spare time, he enjoys riding motorcycles, most everything outdoors, and is said to be a pretty good cook.

The Maintenance Professional of the Year award is sponsored by Truckworx Kenworth.

Fleet Manager

ATA’s Fleet Manager of the Year Alan Howard has worked in the trucking industry for more than 21 years, working with his current employer Blair Logistic of Birmingham since 2015. 

He currently manages 33 drivers who collectively have helped Blair Logistics earn several accolades for safety and compliance, including the company’s Clean Inspection award six times, Top Revenue Fleet three times, and twelve winners of the Contractor of the Month award. Howard even has three drivers on his team who have each reached more than 1-million safe miles.

His supervisor, Jeff Loggings, Vice President of Safety for Blair Logistics says, “In order for someone to be successful, I believe they help those around them to be successful. Alan is a great coworker and is well-deserving of this award for his work inside and outside the office”.

In his leisure time, he enjoys going to concerts, playing video games, following Formula 1 racing, and Auburn University Football.

The award is sponsored by Vertical Alliance Group, provider of Infinit-I Workforce Solutions.

President’s Award (Alabama’s Safest Fleet)

New South Express, Inc. of Mobile, Ala. earned the 2020 ATA President’s Award as ATA’s safest overall fleet for miles driven by company drivers within the state of Alabama. The award is sponsored by McGriff Tire & Service.

Fleet Safety Awards

ATA also recognizes dozens of member fleets that have displayed earned safety records or improved safety metrics for the previous calendar year.

Click here to see the full list of winners. 

ATA Comp Fund Awards

The ATA Comp Fund also announced its top-performing clients during the program. The Fund’s winners are selected based on “a willingness to instill a culture of safety, a commitment to implement the group’s Risk Management model and overall loss ratio,” and are chosen by Fund safety engineers. 

Winners are:

  • Small Fleet Safety Award – Bay Lines, Inc
  • Medium Fleet Safety Award – Busby Trucking, Inc.
  • Large Fleet Safety Award – Watkins Trucking Company
  • Allied Services Safety Award – Gulf City Body & Trailer Works, Inc.
  • Moving & Storage Services Safety Award – American International Movers, Inc.
  • Safety Excellence Award – Atomic Transport, LLC.

For full coverage of their awards, please click here.