It never ceases to amaze me. Every year when we solicit entries for the Truck News Owner/Operator of the Year award, we are presented with a full field of deserving candidates. Choosing a winner is never easy, but when the choice has finally been made, I get to enjoy one of the most rewarding parts of this job – notifying the winner.
Every year, I secretly hope we made the right decision. And every year, as we get to know the winner, our decision is reaffirmed as the correct one. This year was no exception. Marty Gardner, a five-truck owner contracted to FedEx Ground, covered all the bases of our selection criteria.
He was heroic, having helped save an accident victim’s life after being one of the first to come upon the scene. He was safe, boasting a 22-year accident-free driving career consisting of millions of miles, and along with members of his team setting a new record in the process. He was smart, at a time when owner/operators are struggling to survive, Marty is expanding the size of his successful company. And he was a great ambassador to the industry, actively promoting how to share the road with big trucks and participating in show’n’shines and truck driving championships.
Upon spending some time with Marty late last week, it became clear he was also remarkably humble. He credited his wife Lisa with his success. Not only does she care for their four kids, she commutes from Belle River, Ont. to Detroit every day where she works at Detroit Diesel. After a long workday, the inevitable border delays, and after fulfilling her motherly obligations, Lisa still has time to manage the books and take care of the company’s administrative tasks during the evenings, allowing Marty to focus on driving.
We’ll have a full report on Marty and the award in the September issues of Truck News and Truck West. We should also acknowledge that behind every one of our annual winners is a supporting carrier. That’s been one constant every year I’ve been involved in helping select a winner – every year our Owner/Operator of the Year raves about the carrier he hauls for and the support he receives. It’s refreshing to hear these carriers exist, since many of the calls I receive here at Truck News are of the negative variety.
That carrier support was evidenced by the presence of both Jack Brown, senior manager linehaul, FedEx Ground Canada, and all the way from FedEx Ground headquarters in Pittsburgh, John Payne, vice-president, linehaul. We thank them both for being a part of the celebration and also, the sponsors who make it possible: Freightliner, Markel Insurance and Goodyear. (Supporting sponsors include OBAC and Natural Resources Canada). Congrats to Marty Gardner, the 15th annual Owner/Operator of the Year – and a very deserving one at that!
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