Cartwright School District #48
Cartwright Electric School Bus

Five good things that happened in trucking this week—July 9

July 9, 2021
Sneak peek: Pilot Company surprises 40-year driver with custom Peterbilt truck, J.B. Hunt commits $5M to Arkansas Children’s hospital, Kids give truckers a homecoming to remember, and more.

In the summertime, it's a habit to relax, take a break, step away from the "real world." For trucking, there is no stepping away or taking a break. The world doesn't stop for truck drivers and transportation companies. It is a year-round job. That's why it is my pleasure to present to you just a snippet of what the trucking industry continues to do, for its people and for others. Here are five good things that happened in trucking this week. 

Pilot Company surprises 40-year driver with custom Peterbilt truck

Pilot Company (Pilot) is recognizing one of its long-time drivers with the rig of a lifetime. Carrying on a family tradition, Daniel Abshire has driven for Pilot for more than 40 years and was honored for his contributions during a luncheon on July 7 at the company’s Sales and Support Center headquarters in Knoxville.

Pilot and Peterbilt surprised Daniel at the event, presenting him with a custom Peterbilt truck that is reminiscent of the rig his father, Jim, drove during his tenure at Pilot.

Family is very important for Pilot, which has been a family-owned business for 63 years, and this tradition rings true with Jim and Daniel Abshire. In 1971, Jim Abshire was the second driver ever hired by Pilot. Based in Virginia, Jim became the company’s first lead driver and drove for Pilot for 42 years. Following in his father’s footsteps, Daniel joined Pilot in 1980 at the age of 21, and eventually assumed the role of lead driver when Jim retired from the position in 2013.

“The Abshire family and Pilot transportation are synonymous,” Jim Haslam, founder and chairman emeritus of Pilot, said. “Daniel is the best. And that’s because he learned from the best—his father, Jim. This job requires patience, endurance, and a deep regard for everyone on the road. We are very proud of these two long and legendary careers and it’s an honor to recognize Daniel for his 40 years at Pilot with this specially designed Peterbilt truck.”

J.B. Hunt commits $5M to Arkansas Children’s hospital

J.B. Hunt is committing $1 million annually for five years to support future expansion at Arkansas Children’s Northwest. This new commitment brings J.B. Hunt’s overall investment in Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW) to $10 million. J.B. Hunt made a $5 million leadership gift in 2016 to support the construction of ACNW, and this additional $5 million investment supports future capital expansion.

"J.B. Hunt is proud to extend our support for Arkansas Children’s as it continues advancing pediatric healthcare in this region," John Roberts, president and CEO of J.B. Hunt, said. "The hope that these extremely talented, driven professionals bring to our community is very special, and helping Arkansas Children’s expand its services and capabilities will benefit the diverse needs of the Northwest Arkansas community."

J.B. Hunt’s gift marks the final culminating gift to the Arkansas Children’s Campaign for a Healthier Tomorrow, a bold $250 million campaign designed to support the promise of unprecedented child health for children in Arkansas.

“The J.B. Hunt team has long been committed to Arkansas Children’s,” Fred Scarborough, president of Arkansas Children’s Foundation, said. “There is a history of investing in community and healthcare. This new $5 million, five-year gift helps ensure Arkansas Children’s Northwest is right-sized to meet the community’s needs. Northwest Arkansas continues to grow at a rate that outpaces the rest of the state, and Arkansas Children’s Northwest is an integral part of our work to make Arkansas the safest, healthiest place to be a child.”

Dot Foods launches Alzheimer’s campaign

For the past five years, Dot Foods employees have worked together to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association after Robert Tracy (RT), Dot Food’s co-founder, lost his life to the disease in 2006. The company’s sixth annual companywide campaign is running from June 1-July 31 where Dot will match all employee donations as well as any donations made to before October 31, dollar for dollar.

“Our fundraising is the biggest way we make an impact for finding a cure,” the company said in a statement. “Dot ranks number one among all companies in per capita fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association, bringing in over $985,000 for the organization. Last year, even with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our company was able to raise close to $150,000. Dot Foods St. Louis also received the Corporate Champion award from the Greater Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.”

Dot Foods Mt. Sterling employees have several opportunities to support the cause. Paper flowers and t-shirts will be for sale in the lobby with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association. On June 24, Dot-owned restaurant Hagel 1891 will be donating 40 percent of lunch sales to the organization. Several locations participate in their local Walk to End Alzheimer’s event.

“I, like so many others, have been personally impacted by Alzheimer’s,” Lindsey Poland, co-chair of Dot’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Committee, said. “I worry about my parents, my husband and me, and future generations. I truly feel like we’re on the edge of a cure and want to stay connected to helping advance research and treatment. Dot and our employees are so generous; it’s incredible to see how we support the Association year-after-year.”

Arizona school district adds its first electric school bus

Cartwright School District #38 unveiled its new 84-passenger Blue Bird All American RE electric school bus during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 30. The district’s decision to purchase the electric bus will begin transporting students on August 2—the first day of the 2021-22 school year, was influenced by Chispa, a grassroots community nonprofit program that organizes climate action.

“The idea that our school district not only invests in the educational excellence of our scholars but also prioritizes a clean environment for our families, is a testament of immense love for our community and state,” LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor, superintendent for Cartwright School District #38, said. “Our motto is ‘One team, una familia!’ and as a team, we are conscious of measures we can take to help clean air initiatives and lower carbon emissions.”

The district’s school board helped secure funding for the electric bus from a Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant, in addition to funding from local power company Salt River Project for a Level 2 charging station, according to the school bus manufacturer.

Blue Bird helps school districts save thousands of dollars each year on fuel and maintenance while prioritizing safety,” Trevor Rudderham, the school bus OEM’s senior vice president of electrification, added. “Savings, in addition to providing clean-power transportation, make it easy to see how students and the community can benefit from a Blue Bird electric school bus, and that’s the case at Cartwright.”

Kids give truckers a homecoming to remember

A pair of children provided local truck drivers with the best kind of homecoming in the now-viral video trending on the internet. 

In the video, a little boy and girl stand on the side of the road as their trucking family members arrive home, with arm pumps and all. 

Check out the clip below.

Have you seen good things happening in the trucking industry? Let me know by email or on Twitter with #FiveGoodThings.

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