Tuesday, March 22, 2016

ATA Safety Council honors Alabama’s best drivers, fleets and fleet managers

With more than 59 years and 5 million miles of professional driving under his belt, the Alabama

Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year Frank Calvert won the Association’s most popular, if not its most important, recognition at the group’s annual Safety & Maintenance Management Fleet Safety Awards Banquet, held March 21 in Birmingham.

Calvert, a driver for AAA Cooper Transportation’s terminal in Birmingham, has been with the Dothan-based trucking firm for more than 21 years, accumulating 3 million accident-free miles there.

During Calvert’s long career he has worked as a dock hand, local LTL driver and line haul driver. His supervisor Tony Smith, a regional safety supervisor for AAA Cooper, calls Calvert, “the greatest example of humanity I have ever encountered. He is the perfect example of what a true professional driver should be. On top of all that, he’s among the hardest working, most dependable individuals we have at AAA Cooper. Other than scheduled off time, he has missed a total of 5 days in 21 years.”

Calvert has won numerous awards and recognition for his many professional accomplishments through the years. He’s a leader in his community and local church. He and his wife of 57 years, Virgie, have two adult daughters Joan and Lesha, and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“I want to thank ATA and its safety council for the honor,” he said. “AAA Cooper is an incredible company to work for, and I have always appreciated the owners’ commitment to safety and doing things the right way both in and out of the truck. I’m also grateful that my supervisors have allowed me to just be me. I love working with people and interacting with them. My supervisors have always encouraged me to take care of my customers they best way I know how.

“But, I especially want to thank my wife Vergie and our daughters, Joan and Lesha, for always supporting and encouraging me in whatever I needed to do to provide for my family. As a truck driver, I missed a lot of things in their lives, but I always did my very best to be there for those things that mattered most. I am so blessed for their support and love.”

In closing, Calvert said he has no plans to retire. “I thank God every day for my health and for taking care of me and my family all these years. Even after almost 60 years, I still have the urge to work. I love what I do. I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay with it, but the Lord will let me know when it’s time. I’ve been blessed.”

Moses Thomas of ABC Transportation, Inc. was First Runner Up. ATA’s Driver of the Year Award is sponsored by Nextran Truck Centers.

Individual Winners

ATA’s Safety & Maintenance Management Council also honored several other individual fleet safety professionals during the event.

This year’s Alabama Trucking Association Safety Professional of the Year is Heather Darnell of Watkins Trucking Co. in Birmingham, Ala. Darnell has been with Watkins Trucking for more than eight years and is currently responsible for the company’s entire fleet safety operations, including regulatory compliance, accident investigations, HOS auditing. Watkins officials say they have never had an employee with such an outstanding relationship with drivers as Mrs. Darnell.

First Runner Up is Connel Coggins of Buddy Moore Trucking in Birmingham. The ATA Safety Professional of the Year Award is sponsored by Great Dane Trailers.

Billy Busby of Blair Logistics, LLC was tapped Alabama’s top maintenance professional. Busby, an 18-year veteran of fleet maintenance, spearheads a maintenance department that keeps a fleet of 420 tractors and 480 trailers rolling. The award is sponsored by Vertical Alliance Group.

Another professional award winner was Alabama Fleet Manager of the Year Tim Davis of American Proteins, Inc. Davis The award was sponsored by Southland International Trucks.

Meanwhile, Golden Flake Snack Foods’ Transportation Division earned ATA’s President’s Award for lowest overall accident rate frequency for miles driven in Alabama in calendar year 2015. Accepting the award on behalf of Golden Flake was safety manager Jimmy Price and Director of Transportation Butch Owens. The award was sponsored by Billy Barnes Enterprises.

Many Thanks

Thanks to all who entered, won, sponsored, attended, nominated, judged, or presented during the entire SMMC Fleet Safety Awards process.

ATA Director of Safety & Member Services Tim Frazier said this year’s event was by far the group’s most successful to date, raising more than $6,000, drawing more than 100 nominee for various awards, and attracting more than 205 attendees!

Frazier said most importantly, thanks to Billy Barnes Enterprises, Great Dane Trailers, Nextran Truck Centers, Southland International Trucks, and Vertical Alliance Group for sponsoring. “We are grateful for their continued support and participation,” he added.

NOTE: We are still working on processing all photos and will have a batch uploaded to our Flickr Photostream soon. There, you’ll be able view all images from the event and download hi res versions suitable for printing. We’ll post a link to our Facebook page as soon as they are ready.