“All of you watching today should be proud of what you have done to showcase our industry, and proud of how you adapted to a national crisis,” said ATA chief operating officer and executive vice president of industry affairs, Elisabeth Barna, at ATA’s Management Conference and Exhibition.
At the conference, which was held virtually this year to align with COVID-19 safety measures, Barna announced the winners of the 2020 American Trucking Associations’ Mike Russell Trucking Image Awards, which honor those demonstrating excellence within the trucking industry and upholding its commitment to safety, professionalism, and essentiality in all aspects of the sector.
“This year has certainly been a challenging year, but a year where we have seen the trucking industry gain incredible momentum in the way we are perceived,” said Barna.
The Mike Russell Trucking Image Award, named for a former ATA vice president of public affairs, was first awarded in 2007 and became sponsored by HireRight in 2014.
Award recipient J&M Tank Lines was rewarded in particular for its efforts to widely promote the trucking industry throughout the community and on social media, while also aiming to boost its drivers’ morale and offer accurate and up-to-date health and safety information as much as possible during the era of COVID-19.
“This company has a robust social media presence and is always pumping up their workforce, and gets their drivers involved in everything they do,” Barna explained.
As for the Nebraska Trucking Association, the group also worked to boost the trucking industry throughout social media. Additionally, NTA made sure to provide meals to the drivers hauling essential goods and resources during 2020, and partnered with the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce to recognize truck drivers as essential workers throughout the state.
“Every day, they were supporting and promoting the trucking industry in a new way,” said Barna of NTA. NTA is an ATA federation leader, as well.
Third award recipient, Rhonda Hartman, is an America’s Road Team Captain and has aimed to increase the public’s knowledge of the importance of trucking in our day-to-day lives. Hartman has been trucking for more than 37 years and participated in 2020’s convoy which paid respects to the centennial anniversary of Louisa Swain casting her ballot as the first female to vote in the United States. Hartman has also worked diligently to boost recruitment efforts for women in the trucking industry and has logged almost 3 million accident-free miles in her career.
Also during the conference, president of Triple G Express and ATA chairman, Randy Guillot, received ATA’s 2020 Highway to Victory Award. This recognition comes from as desire to honor Guillot’s outstanding efforts for trucking industry advocacy.
Guillot testified twice before congressional committees–virtually, of course–while also leading the trucking sector in winning tort reform in Louisiana, according to vice president of legislative affairs for ATA, Catherine Evans.
“His efforts to effectively communicate our industry’s priorities will no doubt serve us well,” said Evans when presenting the award to Guillot. “His passion for tort reform on punching back at the trial bar has been equally impressive. In particular, he has been relentless in coordinating with state and local officials to combat the scourge of self-serving litigation that has plagued our industry in recent years.”
The efforts of all truckers in the industry have not gone unnoticed, and that very sentiment was made abundantly clear at the virtual conference. The goal of industry workers to take advantage of the current widespread focus on truck drivers during this time has helped to boost public perception regarding the importance of a truck driver’s work. Industry representatives even joined Chao at an April White House ceremony to have their hard work commended.
“During COVID-19, the American people have gained a much greater appreciation for the trucking industry’s vital role in keeping our supply chain open,” said Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary. “Without [truck drivers], food, medical equipment, and essential supplies can’t get to where they need to go.”