INDIANAPOLIS—National Tank Truck Carriers’ 2020 North American Safety Contest finalists were relentless, both in their dedication to safety, and in their efforts to discover who won before the 72nd Annual Conference.
But NTTC president Ryan Streblow was equally determined to keep the secret safe.
Now it’s out—and Streblow can safely answer his phone again.
In the dramatic, first on-stage unveiling of the tank truck industry’s most prestigious honor, Suttles Truck Leasing and LSP Transport were crowned North American safety champions Tuesday at the JW Marriott Indianapolis. Demopolis, Ala.-based Suttles triumphed in the Harvison division, which includes for-hire carriers and private fleets whose drivers traveled more than 15 million miles last year, and Bryan, Texas-based LSP won in the Sutherland division, for operations covering less than 15 million miles.
“Wow, I wasn’t expecting that,” said Joe Maple, HSE and maintenance manager for LSP, the in-house fleet of LiquidPower Specialty Products Inc. (LSPI).
“These awards don’t happen without a lot of work behind the scenes. We’ve got a great company … starting at the top with Mike Brown, our CEO, Laura Thomas, our vice president of transportation supply chain, John Defoor, our private fleet manager, and Brandy Hamilton, our HSE global manager. Without her support, we couldn’t do this.”
NTTC’s safety contest annually recognizes North American tank truck operations with the best safety programs and records. Members first compete for Grand, Honor and Merit awards in each of 10 mileage classes, and Grand Award winners move on to vie for the coveted Heil Trophy in two mileage divisions.
Winners are determined by their safety records, safety and preventive maintenance programs, personnel safety programs and record, and contributions to tank truck industry and general highway safety causes. LSP, established in 2015, secured its trophy with a frequency of .344 accidents per million miles in the 5-7 million miles class of the Competitive Safety Contest. LSP also won a Grand Award in the Personnel Safety Contest.
“Most important (to our success) are our drivers—the guys who buy into our culture, who want to do the best they can to go home the same way they came to work, to make sure they don’t have any incidents, and take the extra time to do what needs to be done to make sure we do it safely,” Maple said. “Without them, there’s no way we could make this happen. And by the way, we’ve got the best mechanics in the industry.”
Suttles, a part of Dana Companies acquired by Dana Transport in 1999, posted an accident frequency of .177 in the 18.5-31.5 million miles class.
“I’ve been coming to these things for many years, and watching all my friends and competitors come up and get this trophy, and congratulating them, but thinking ‘Well, so what, you know, we’re a pretty good carrier, too,’” joked Keith Lewis, president and COO of Liquid Transport, Dana’s most recent acquisition in 2006.
“But 15 years ago, (Dana founder) Ron Dana called me and said he wanted to talk to me about selling the company, and I thought he wanted to sell to us. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. So we hooked up with Ron and his staff, and it became really exciting and good for our people, and with the things he brought to us … it just worked really well.
“I’m so glad for all of our folks.”
Lewis also made sure to credit drivers and mechanics, and especially their dispatchers, who he said have the most thankless job in trucking.
“They catch heck from drivers, customers and me on a daily basis, and still do it day in and day out, and keep our driver safe,” he said. “So I’m so thankful for the group we have. Gene Patten (Dana’s VP of safety and compliance, and Responsible Care coordinator) and his staff are a tremendous safety department, and I don’t know anyone who works harder than they do—with the hours they put in and the commitment they have.”
With the Grand Award winners in each division on stage behind him, Randall Swift, CEO of Engineered Transportation International—which includes the Heil Trailer brand—revealed the 2020 Heil Trophy recipients.
Heil has supported NTTC’s safety awards for nearly 40 years.
“The history of this industry is fascinating,” Swift said. “It truly parallels the development of transportation and infrastructure in our country, and that’s the biggest reason why Heil is so proud to be associated, not only with the industry and this association, but with this award in and of itself.
“Heil has history that dates back to 1901, so we’ve been at the forefront of innovation in the tank truck industry, and we’re privileged to have our name synonymous with this industry’s safety award.”
The 2020 safety contest judges were David Heller, Truckload Carriers Association’s VP of government affairs; Sgt. John Samis, of the Delaware State Police; Daniel Horvath, American Trucking Associations’ VP of safety policy; and Sarah Reboli, senior counsel for regulatory and industry affairs with the National Propane Gas Association.
Past Heil Trophy winners
(Since the award was split into two mileage divisions in 2014)
- 2014: Tidewater Transit Co., Harvison; Wynne Transport, Sutherland
- 2015: Miller Transporters, Harvison; Carbon Express, Sutherland
- 2016: Groendyke Transport, Harvison; GLS Transport, Sutherland
- 2017: Gemini Motor Transport, Harvison; G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation, Sutherland
- 2018: Groendyke Transport, Harvison; Tandet Logistics, Sutherland
- 2019: Trimac Transportation, Harvison; G&D Trucking/Hoffman Transportation, Sutherland