Truckload Carriers Association Honors Top Three Winners of 2007 TCA Owner Operator of the Year Contest


In the 21st Annual TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest, sponsored by Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), International Truck and Engine, and Overdrive magazine, three owner operators were honored as the nation’s best. The awards, presented March 3rd during TCA’s Annual Convention at The Atlantis Resort, were based on the drivers’ excellent safety records, unblemished work histories, and community and industry involvement.

The three winners and their prizes are:

Grand Prize Winner
John Gill
Dart Transit Company, Eagan, Minnesota

John Gill has contracted with Dart Transit Company for more than 25 years and has logged more than 3 million accident-free truckload miles. He has earned the National Safety Council’s prestigious Three Million Mile Safety Award and has won every safety award that Dart Transit offers. He is also a part recipient of Dart Transit’s Contractor of the Year award.

When not on the road, Gill finds time to volunteer as a Trucker Buddy for a second grade class at Southwestern Elementary School in Patriot, Ohio. He also volunteers for the Boy Scouts, the Gallia County Senior Center, the 4H, and the Red Cross. He is a member of Highway Watch, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, and the American Legion.

In the contest application presented to TCA on Gill’s behalf, Dave Oren, chief executive officer of Dart Transit Company, writes: “John’s work ethic is a reflection of his strong connection to his family and the community. When he’s not in the truck, John fills his time by volunteering and spending time with his kids. We at Dart are extremely proud to have John as part of our team and think he is an excellent example of what this contest is all about – professionalism, dependability and safe driving.”

As the Owner Operator of the Year, Gill will receive a new International 9000i Model tractor (prize includes payment of the Federal excise tax), with a Cummins ISX-500 HP engine, an Eaton transmission of Gill’s choice, and G300 series radial truck tires. He will also receive the following prizes:

  • GPS navigation system
  • Four passenger vehicle tires
  • $1,000 business consulting gift certificate
  • $4,500 cash
  • $5,750 in truckstop gift cards
  • $1,500 truck parts gift certificate

Second PlaceWinner
Billy Smith
Dart Transit Company, Eagan, Minnesota


Billy Smith has been driving for more than 20 years and has contracted with Dart Transit Company since 1995. He has logged more than 4 million accident-free truckload miles during his career. Dart Transit has presented this professional truck driver with safety awards every year since 1996, including a 5-year safety award jacket, a 7-year “Hall of Fame” award, an 8-year safety award ring, and a 10-year safety award watch.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, Smith volunteered for F.E.M.A.’s hurricane relief efforts. “I hauled freight to the stores that no one else would, because the areas were so congested,” says Smith. “The majority of the loads were generators. The people in the hurricane areas were so glad to get them.”

In the contest application presented to TCA on Smith’s behalf, Elaine Briles, director of safety, compliance and fleet services for Dart Transit, writes: “Being an independent contractor suits Billy well. He’s successful because he doesn’t just drive a truck, he runs a business. He understands the obligation to drive safely and protect others on the road. He accepts his stewardship gladly and takes the responsibility seriously.”

As his prize package, Smith will receive a GPS navigation system, $2,000 in cash, and $3,000 in truckstop gift cards.

Third PlaceWinner
Jimmy McSwain
Sunco Carriers, Inc., Lakeland, Florida

Jimmy McSwain has contracted with Sunco Carriers for more than 16 years and has logged more than 3 million accident-free truckload miles. He was recently nominated for the 2008 Florida Road Team, a select group of eight truck drivers who travel the state giving speeches and representing the trucking industry to civic groups, students, and other public and private entities. In 2006, he was named the Florida Trucking Association’s Driver of the Year; in 1995 he was named Sunco Carriers’ Contractor of the Year; and he placed 3rd and 7th in 2004 and 1995, respectively, in the TCA Owner Operator of the Year contest.

When not on the road, McSwain is an active participant in the Florida Truck Driving Championship and is a member of Sunco Carriers’ Owner Operator Committee. In the past, during his many truck travels, he has corresponded with schoolchildren through the Trucker Buddy program.

In the contest application presented to TCA on McSwain’s behalf, Joe Whitfield, president of Sunco Carriers, writes: “Good people are a blessing to the trucking industry. Sunco has a lot of great people like Jimmy, but Jimmy’s drive to succeed, willingness to go the extra mile and entrepreneurial spirit set him apart from the others. Jimmy is a true professional in every way, and I am very proud that his truck has a Sunco placard on the door.”

As his prize package, McSwain will receive $1,500 in cash and $1,700 in truckstop gift cards.