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Five Good Things: Black History Month honored, new TCA Highway Angel

Feb. 16, 2024
This week in good trucking news: Averitt focuses on community service, Cox Automotive presents annual award and scholarship, 160 Driving Academy honors Black History Month, the TCA names a new Highway Angel, and Bendix donates.

With February in full swing, the trucking industry is focused on good news, not the frigid weather. Read more about what the industry has been up to in this week’s Five Good Things.

Please pass along good news for our weekly Five Good Things blog by email or through our LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter accounts.

Averitt associates provide 18,000 hours of community service

Averitt associates across 20 states completed more than 18,000 hours of community service in 2023 as part of the company’s annual Team Up Community Challenge.

The grand total of 18,764 hours was nearly double Averitt’s previous record of 10,433 hours. Service projects ranged from clothing, food, and toy drives to school functions, blood drives, and holiday efforts. 

“Helping people is something we strongly believe in,” Averitt Chairman and CEO Gary Sasser said. “The Team Up Community Challenge is part of our culture of Associate Sharing, and our 2023 results were an incredible example of what’s possible when we work together. It also shows the kind of people we have on our team—people who go the extra mile and step up to meet the needs of our communities.”

Since the Team Up Community Challenge originated in 2011, Averitt associates have combined to accomplish the following:

  • 70,973 hours of community service
  • 1,145 organizations served

“I’m proud of what we were able to achieve in 2023,” Sasser said, “and I’m even more excited to see what’s in store in 2024 and beyond as we serve people in need.”

Cox Automotive presents 19th Barbara Cox Woman of the Year Award and scholarship

Cox Automotive presented its annual Barbara Cox Woman of the Year Award to Tina Miller, SVP and CFO at Lithia and Driveway, headquartered in Medford, Oregon, a global automotive retailer with more than 300 locations across North America and the United Kingdom.

Named after Barbara Cox, the late co-owner of Cox Enterprises and daughter of the company’s founder, this honor is awarded to women who demonstrate business leadership, community advocacy, and a commitment to advancing the automotive industry.

“I am incredibly honored to be recognized by Cox Automotive for Woman of the Year and to be part of the community of amazing women who have received this award before me,” Miller said. “Supporting diversity within the automotive industry is essential as we continue to evolve the customer experience to match the uniqueness of each individual. I’m thankful for strong partners like Cox Automotive and to be part of a team who shares similar values and aspirations.”

In her nearly 20 years with the organization, Miller has driven growth and aligned external financing to fuel an industry-leading acquisition strategy. Under her tenure, company performance has thrived, resulting in robust revenue growth and impressive stock appreciation from 2019 to 2023. Miller’s leadership also embodies strong communication with relationships with the board, senior leaders, investors, financial analysts, bankers, and the media.

In addition to presenting the award to Miller, Cox Automotive will present on behalf of the honoree the 2023-2024 Barbara Cox Memorial Scholarship of $10,000 to Haiden Wilburn, a Northwood University sophomore from Muskegon, Michigan. Wilburn is studying automotive aftermarket management and is a member of the student aftermarket organization, which promotes opportunities available in the automotive programs through social media and marketing. She is recognized as a leader both in the classroom and for her role as a captain of the Northwood University student-run auto show.

See also: Cox Automotive opens Georgia EV battery facility

160 Driving Academy celebrates Black History Month

160 Driving Academy, the nation’s largest commercial vehicle driving school, sponsored and attended the Third Annual West Virginia’s Black Policy Day 2024, a one-day event to address policy issues affecting minority communities in West Virginia, on February 7.

Martec Washington, business development specialist of 160 Driving Academy Parkersburg Branch Location, attended the West Virginia State Capitol and participated in discussions for potential new policy initiatives.

“Around 11:00 a.m., we sang Lift Every Voice in a unity circle; it was surreal to see how much of a difference today made within the community,” Washington said. 

The 160 Driving Academy proudly celebrates Black History Month and is honored to support Washington in his community initiatives in and out of the classroom.

TCA names new Highway Angel

The Truckload Carriers Association has named truck driver David Garduno from Albuquerque, New Mexico, a TCA Highway Angel, for stopping to help another trucker whose tire had caught fire. Garduno drives for ABF Freight out of Fort Smith, Arkansas. 

Around 1:55 a.m. on January 9, Garduno was driving on Highway US 64 in Kirtland, New Mexico, when he came upon another tractor-trailer whose rear trailer’s passenger-side rear tire was on fire.  

“I sped up and informed the driver his truck was starting to catch fire—the trailer was catching fire—and to pull over,” he said. “We both pulled over.” 

Garduno attempted to extinguish the fire using his fire extinguisher but was unsuccessful. The fire was on molten metal. He advised the new trucker, whose trainer was asleep in the cab, to break apart the two trailers because he might lose the entire truck to the fire. 

“We split the two trailers apart,” he said. Garduno noticed hazardous material in the truck’s load as the other trucker called 911 for help. He then got his traffic safety triangles out and placed them on the road behind the flaming truck to keep traffic safe. He also moved his truck away from it as the fire department arrived. 

“The fire department came, and it took about two hours to put out, even though it was 10 degrees or less outside,” he said.  

Garduno, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, credits his military training with keeping him calm. He felt obliged to stop and help the other trucker during the incident. 

“If I was in his position, I would want someone to help me,” he said. “You always gotta help each other out.”

Bendix donates $5,000 to support SKYCTC’s Work and Learn Program

Bendix, a commercial vehicle manufacturer, recently donated $5,000 to the Southcentral Kentucky Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education’s (SKY FAME) endowment campaign. This donation ensures students have access to the necessary resources to excel as globally competitive advanced maintenance technicians (AMTs) trained at the Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College’s Franklin-Simpson Center (SKYCTC).

SKY FAME is a work-and-learn admissions program designed to educate AMTs. Students attend classes at the SKYCTC Franklin-Simpson Center two days per week and work at least 24 hours per week at a sponsoring manufacturer. AMTs study a diverse technical skill set, including electricity, robotics, fluid power, mechanics, fabrication, industrial troubleshooting, and more. After five semesters, students earn an Associate Degree in Industrial Maintenance Technology and accumulate over 1,800 hours of on-the-job work experience.

“As engineering director at Bendix, I am thrilled to announce our $5,000 donation to the SKYFAME program,” Brett Barrett, Bendix’s engineering director, said. “This initiative is not just an investment in education; it’s a testament to our commitment to advancing manufacturing. As our manufacturing processes evolve, SKYFAME stands as a crucial long-term partner, ensuring our workforce stays ahead with the cutting-edge skills needed to maintain our competitive edge in the industry.”

Kelcie Richart, Franklin-Simpson Center campus director at SKYCTC, thanked Bendix for entrusting their program to enhance the skills of Bendix’s incumbent employees. Richart emphasized the impact of Bendix’s donation, stressing that it will continue to support the ongoing training of students for years ahead.

About the Author

Jenna Hume | Digital Editor

Digital Editor Jenna Hume previously worked as a writer in the gaming industry. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree in creative writing from Truman State University and a master of fine arts degree in writing from Lindenwood University. She is currently based in Missouri. 

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