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ATA names 22 new America’s Road Team Captains for 2022-23

Jan. 20, 2022
Grammer’s Ellis, J&M’s Henderson among ‘industry ambassadors’ who boast a combined 564 years, more than 45 million accident-free miles

American Trucking Associations (ATA) announced 22 professional truck drivers who will be 2022-23 America's Road Team Captains. The drivers will serve as trucking industry ambassadors, traveling the U.S. to spread the message of safe driving while teaching about the industry and opportunities in it.

The prestigious 2022-23 class includes Grammer Logistics’ James Ellis (Erwin, N.C.) and J&M Tank Lines’ Darrien Henderson (Mobile, Ala.).   

Both drivers were finalists for National Tank Truck Carriers’ Professional Tank Truck Driver of the Year award last year. 

“This industry, like our country, is diverse, hard-working, and patriotic, and this new class of America’s Road Team Captains reflects all of that,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in an ATA release announcing the new team.

“I’m proud that they will be representing the industry and ATA as our newest and best ambassadors—educating the country about trucking’s essential role in keeping America moving safely and efficiently.”

Grammer said Ellis’ appointment furthers the company’s long-standing legacy of leadership in the trucking industry spearheaded by founder and past chairman Shorty Whittington, and continued by his son, John Whittington, Grammer’s vice president of legislative affairs.

“James Ellis is a shining example of a professional driver, and we are extremely proud of him for being selected to this position of leadership," said George Gerth, Grammer’s senior vice president of risk, talent and safety. “It is critical that we continue to educate and engage with the public on opportunities in transportation. We thank James and all of the captains for their service and passion for our industry.” 

America’s Road Team, a group of professional truck drivers with superior safety records, was created in 1986 to represent the industry and is sponsored by Volvo Trucks. Captains, with support from their companies, dedicate a few days each month to attend industry events, speak at schools, or meet policymakers on behalf of trucking.

The new Road Team Captains will tour the country in ATA's Interstate One Image Truck, which has an American flag emblazoned on a new 2021 Volvo VNL 760 that features a truck driving simulator and mobile classroom.

“Volvo Trucks is honored for the 20th consecutive year to continue our sponsorship of America's Road Team with a new Volvo VNL 760 and take part in this week's selection of the 2022-2023 Captains,” Volvo Trucks North America President Peter Voorhoeve said.

“America's Road Team is one of the most visible groups of professional truck drivers in the country, and we believe that their hard work to promote the profession and safety pays dividends for our industry. We thank the Captains for their strong engagement and being passionate ambassadors of this great profession. We congratulate the new class of America's Road Team Captains and wish them the best of success as they carry out their mission over the next two years.”

This year’s class includes drivers from 13 companies, 17 states, and drivers with more than 564 years of experience and almost 45.8 million accident-free miles.

The drivers were judged on their ability to express their knowledge of the industry, their skills in effective communication about safety and transportation, and their overall safe-driving record. The panel of judges included trucking executives and trade press.

“These Captains have dedicated their lives to spreading the message of safe driving. They are leaders in their communities, role models in their companies, and are dedicated to and passionate about the industry,” said Elisabeth Barna, ATA executive vice president of industry affairs. “This new class represents everything we strive to promote about our industry and its professionals, especially as we face a driver shortage and challenges with the supply chain.”

After receiving their signature navy blue America's Road Team blazers, the 22 Captains will immediately begin their work.

They include Bob Bramwell of ABF Freight System, Centerview, Mo.; Michael Buck of Yellow, Moore, Okla.; Teddy Butler of ABF Freight System, Hampton, Ga.; Kevin Byrnes of UPS Inc., Sparta, N.J.; Jesus Davila of Werner Enterprises, San Antonio, Texas; Ken Duncan of Walmart Transportation, Gorham, Maine; Lalo Fernandez of FedEx Freight, Battle Ground, Ore.; and Richard Frazer of Yellow, Rockford, Ill.

More Captains are Charlie Fuller of FedEx Freight, Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Ritch Fundell of FedEx Freight, Tonica, Ill.; Salvador Gonzalez of TForce Freight, Ocala, Fla.; Gina Jones of Werner Enterprises, Peoria, Arizona; Dean Key of Ruan Transportation Management Systems, Primghar, Iowa; Glen Allen Kirk of Old Dominion Freight Line, Franklin, Ind.; Jeff Rose, of Yellow, Creston, Ohio; Ron Round of Pottle’s Transportation, Enfield, Maine; David Schroeder of FedEx Freight, Bellaire, Ohio; Eric Stein, Werner Enterprises Inc., Canajoharie, N.Y.; PJ Singh of Penske Logistics, Stockton, Calif.; and Derrick Thorpe of TForce Freight, Rahway, N.J.

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