Highway Transport
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Inside look: Champion finalist reflects on empowering experience

May 24, 2024
Highway Transport takes us behind the scenes with Ed Heard in this final installment of a three-part series following his journey to National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2024 Annual Conference in Las Vegas, where NTTC crowned Usher Transport driver Dave Powell as its 2023-24 Driver of the Year.

Edward “Ed” Heard, professional driver at Highway Transport, was one of eight finalists for National Tank Truck Carriers’ Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year. The program recognizes tank truck drivers who have an incredible driving record, a demonstrated commitment to safety, and a history of community service. Finalists were presented May 6 during NTTC’s 2024 Annual Conference in Las Vegas. Heard recently returned from Las Vegas, where he participated in multiple events and was celebrated for his career achievements.

Highway Transport’s Ed Heard certainly had a lot to do as an elite award finalist at NTTC’s annual conference. From conference events to gatherings with his company and fulfilling his wife’s desires to shop and sightsee—it was a busy few days.

With the perspective of several months of preparing for and advancing through the award process, Heard gained even more knowledge about the industry. The process also reinforced his understanding of how important it is to sit down and talk with clients and company leaders.

“With so many places to be, it was great to slow down a couple of times to dine with some of our customers and put a face with the voices and names,” Heard said. “Both sides got to share how much we love working with each other, and I got to see the people whose products I haul every day.

“I think they appreciated getting to meet the driver who delivers their products safely and on time. It gives them a reason to advocate for keeping our company as the transporter of choice and reminds me to always put customer service first. It makes a difference, and we truly had a good time.”

Professional Driver of the Year ceremony

All events for this year’s NTTC conference were held at Fontainebleau Las Vegas, including the award breakfast. Ryan Streblow, NTTC president and CEO, spoke, and videos of the finalists were shown.

“The way they put the videos together was awesome,” Heard shared. “It makes your skin tingle watching them and hearing the tidbits about each driver. If that doesn’t motivate someone, I don’t know what will. It was so powerful to look around and see that so many people were there for us, including our families, our work colleagues, and people supporting and involved in our industry. There are so many who have their own purpose and job and seeing that bigger scope was encouraging.

“I really enjoyed the keynote speaker, Ben Newman. He was phenomenal, and I wish that other drivers could hear his motivational messages.”

See also: DOY candidate hunts for new ambassador role

Heard was recognized as a finalist, earning the selection for multiple reasons, including his professionalism and dedication to safety and on-time delivery, including more than 875,000 accident-free miles and 98% on-time percentage. Also, he was recognized as a trainer with more than 100 trainees learning from him.

He also made a new connection with Grand Champion winner Dave Powell from Usher Transport. “I congratulated him on this well-deserved award and got to know him a little better,” Heard said.

Looking back on the experience

Heard shared that he really enjoyed the journey as a learning experience and the biggest work-related event he’s been part of in his career. A seasoned 27-year veteran of law enforcement, working with a Gulf Coast felony task force and specializing in mental health and crisis intervention, Heard said he wasn’t outside of his comfort zone, and he has no regrets.

“The hardest part was standing on stage in the hot lights hoping I didn’t have to catch one of the other guys if someone fainted,” he joked. “I’m the baby of the bunch of finalists. Most of them have been driving their entire career, and I had an entire career before becoming a tank truck driver. I think I did very well in my preparation, research, and delivery.”

See also: Heard finds fresh perspective

Heard is already sharing his story with other drivers. “It starts with safety, but it goes beyond that. I’m encouraging others to learn more about NTTC and what they do, more about the industry and moving outside their comfort zone to speak publicly and represent the company and industry. I was kind of in a bubble myself before this opportunity came.”

Before leaving, he was able to see a show at Sphere Las Vegas (“Awesome!”), shop (“Reluctantly!”) with Aileen, his wife of 25 years, as well as other finalists and their spouses—and enjoy some great meals with finalists, clients, and Highway Transport leaders, including at Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen.

He is already preparing to return to the road. And as far as next year goes: “Highway Transport will be back,” he vowed.

About the Author

BT staff