Trucks at Work

Investing in a second chance

This is not a contest. It’s about finding good drivers and keeping them on the road.” –Steve Clough, president of Arrow Truck Sales, discussing the company’s “Back On The Road” campaign at the 2011 Mid America Trucking Show

It’s an annual event filled with emotion, the Back On The Road campaign (often referred to by its acronym BOTR in trucking circles) created by national used truck dealership chain Arrow Truck Sales. Indeed, there’s usually not a dry eye to be found when the winner gets announced – and I’ll admit that includes me as well.

[Just watch the story of this year’s winner, David Acosta, below. If he’s not a deserving winner, I don’t know who could be.]

Now in its fourth year, BOTR rewards a down-on-their-luck professional truck driver with a used but extremely sharp Volvo VN highway tractor from Arrow and a one-year work agreement with truckload carrier Heartland Express (among MANY other goodies). By the way, you can view a gallery of photos from this year's BOTR event by clicking here.

Now, sure, BOTR is above all a feel good event, for who doesn’t like to see a truck driver going through some really hard times catch what could be the break of a lifetime?

[Acosta made an extremely heartfelt speech after being named the 2011 BOTR winner.]

Yet it’s so much more than that, Steve Clough, Arrow’s president, pointed out to me as we chatted for a few minutes ahead of the event this March at Mid America. In fact, Clough stressed to me that I should really think of BOTR winner more from an “investment” perspective rather than as someone who got lucky for a day.

“We’re not just throwing a key [to a truck] at you. We want to make this career work for the driver for the long haul,” he explained to me. “Trucking is first and foremost a business. These men and women love driving, but when they are not behind the wheel, they’ve got to do paperwork and pay bills. So we look at providing them with what we call a full ‘life package,’ not just a truck.”

[Here are some more thoughts from Clough.]

Yet that’s only one part of Arrow’s “investment” perspective, he said. “The thought is, maybe in five years after this initial help, they’ve done well enough to buy a few more trucks and hire some hard working drivers like themselves. That’s the real significance of the program, and our sponsors understand that,” Clough stressed to me. “And that’s why I really love this [BOTR] program and why it’s one of the best things we do.”

[You can click on the audio file below and listen to trucking radio personality Eric Harley interview the David Acosta. It’s well worth a listen.]

It’d also worthy to note that Heartland Express continues to provide a one-year work agreement for the BOTR program and it’s for reasons similar to Clough’s, I think, for all of the winners are some of the hardest working professionals you’ll ever meet. Heartland knows these are the kinds of folks it wants hauling freight for customers every day, no doubt showing up with their rigs ship-shape and gleaming.

These guys take obvious pride in their profession and they are obviously the ones you’d want behind the wheel and at the dock. Thus there's no doubt they represent a very worthy investment.