TCA Honors Top Three Drivers in 2009 Owner Operator of the Year Contest


Las Vegas, Nevada

In the 23rd annual TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest, sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Overdrive magazine, three owner operators were honored as the nation’s best. The awards, presented March 2 during TCA’s Annual Convention at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada, were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and community and industry involvement.

The top three winners are:

Grand Prize Winner

Steven J. Recker

Warren Transport, Inc., Waterloo, Iowa

Steven Recker has been affiliated with Warren Transport, Inc., since 1985. He has driven more than 2.8 million accident-free truckload miles. Prior to winning the grand prize this year, he had placed as a top ten finalist in the contest four times. In 2006, he was selected as the Iowa Motor Truck Association’s (IMTA) Driver of the Year, and he also served a year on the IMTA Road Team.

When not on the road, Recker contributes money to and attends functions for the Boy Scouts, Camp Courageous of Iowa (a respite care and recreational facility for individuals with disabilities), and the Special Olympics. He has also volunteered hundreds of hours to help those in need, such as hurricane and flood victims and those affected by a serious electricity outage in Iowa a few years ago.

Warren Transport’s president and CEO, Robert Molinaro, said: “It takes a very special individual to stay the course in this profession. The balance of being a bread winner and a successful family man is achieved through individual character. … Steve’s work ethic, ‘Let’s do it and do it right,’ is a trait of Steve’s, whose large frame of over 6’3″ is matched by the size and goodness of his heart.”

As the TCA Owner Operator of the Year, Recker will receive a prize package consisting of cash, gift cards, products, and services worth $25,000. In addition, his employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while attending TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Second Place Winner

Woodrow Walker

Dart Transit Company, Eagan, Minnesota

Woodrow Walker has driven more than 4 million accident-free truckload miles and has been leased to Dart Transit Co. since 1988. He has received a safety award from Dart every year since becoming affiliated with the company through its Dallas Operating Center and was selected as Dart’s Contractor of the Year in 2005.

When he is at home, Walker is very active in his church. He has worked with its prison ministries, serving as a mentor to less experienced, younger men. Walker has also done his best to spread cheer throughout a local nursing home. He and his wife are monthly contributing donors to support work on behalf of abused and neglected children through CASA, or Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Joyce Jordan, chief operating officer of Dart’s Dallas Operating Center, stated: “Woodrow lives by simple, but wise philosophies and values that contribute to his success in transportation and life: exercise control and discipline in spending, family life and business; be personable; always listen and always respect others.”

Walker’s employer flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while at TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

Third Place Winner

Larry L. Severson

Dart Transit Company, Eagan, Minnesota

Larry Severson has been associated with Dart Transit Company since 1975 and has logged more than 5 million miles throughout his 48-year career. In 2004, he was selected as the Minnesota Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year. He has also received numerous safety awards from Dart, including the 20-Year Truck Trophy, President’s Safety Award, and the Hall of Fame Safety Award.

At home, Severson helps out with church fundraisers, such as using his tractor and trailer (with permission) to collect aluminum cans and haul them to a recycling plant. He has driven in the Special Olympics’ “World’s Largest Truck Convoy” several times, and recently allowed one of the athletes and his mother to ride along in his truck cab.

“When we think of professional, safe representatives for our industry, [Larry’s] name comes to the top of the list,” said Gary Volkman, Dart’s vice president of safety compliance. “We are grateful that he represents us.”

Like Recker and Walker, Severson’s employer also flew him to Las Vegas and paid for his expenses while at TCA’s convention, where he was awarded a plaque in front of hundreds of the industry’s top leaders.

The overall goal of the TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest is to recognize and pay tribute to the outstanding owner operators who provide reliable and safe truck transportation in moving the nation’s goods.

To be eligible for the contest, applicants had to meet certain minimum criteria, including having driven one million consecutive, accident-free miles and being leased to a TCA-member trucking company. After passing the initial phase of the competition, driver applicants were then asked to submit a final application form, from which the top three winners were selected. Final application forms required operating information, verification of work history and safety record, equipment specifications, a business plan, a 300-word essay explaining why the entrant should be a candidate for the grand prize, and a 300-word essay explaining how the entrant is a good “Trucking Citizen.”

“It is always a privilege to operate this contest and get to meet and recognize the most outstanding drivers in the U.S. and Canada,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. “When you look at the millions of safe miles they’ve driven and the many outstanding things they have accomplished, while still maintaining their personal lives and even managing to volunteer within their local communities – well, let’s just say there can be no doubt these drivers have more than earned the top spots in the TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest!”