Not many can say they have enjoyed two successful careers in a lifetime, but professional driver Clarence Ward is one of the lucky few.
Ward, who received the 2 million mile safe driving award at the Dec. 13 Fourth Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony, followed a unique path. After 21 years of service with the U.S. Army, he embarked on the new journey of professional driver.
Now with 20 years of experience with Werner, Ward enjoys sharing his knowledge. To date, he has trained 75 students.
“Pay attention and stay focused, especially in inclement weather,” he advises other drivers.
When not on the road, Ward likes to watch sports and is an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan. Residing in Marshall, Texas, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, son and three grandkids.
Easy going and consistent is an apt description of professional driver Gordon Stewart, recipient of the 2 million safe driving miles award at the Dec. 13 Fourth Quarter Recognition Ceremony.
Throughout the years, Stewart’s driving experience has run the gamut of Werner services, including Flatbed, Temperature-Controlled and Vans. He also has driven on a team, as a solo and as a trainer.
“It’s been a fun 22 years,” Stewart said. “Compared to 20 years ago, driving today can be hard, but driving a Werner truck makes the job a whole lot easier.”
His safety advice to other drivers is to slow down and rest.
Stewart, an army veteran, resides in Lemon Grove, Calif., and enjoys spending time on his fishing boat.
It takes a talented driver to navigate a truck and trailer through Southern California traffic, but professional driver Robert Roper proves each day that it’s possible to stay safe in even the most challenging conditions.
Roper, honored for achieving 2 million safe driving miles at the Dec. 13 Fourth Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony, was inspired to stay safe by his dispatcher.
“Safety is more than just a commitment. It’s a lifestyle – one inch, one foot, one yard and one mile at a time,” he said. “There will always be people who are going to test that.”
Roper, also known as Highlander by those who work with him, resides in Las Vegas, Nev. When not at work, he enjoys restoring classic cars, adding to his unique sword collection and performing in Renaissance fairs.
Professional driver Morris Clark knew the exact moment he wanted to drive for Werner, a memory he recounted after receiving the 2 million safe driving miles award at the Dec. 13 Fourth Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony.
While in truck driver training school, he saw a blue truck and trailer pull in to a truck stop. Clark told his instructor that was the company he was going to work for, if they would have him.
“Blue’s my favorite color, and that was it for me,” he said.
Clark accomplished his safe driving feat through hard work and dedication.
“I listened and read everything that was presented to me by the company and applied it to what I do on the road,” he said.
He offered a bit of safety advice to other drivers – “Control the load. Don’t let the load control you.”
Clark, a proud native of Chesapeake, Va., has driven 22 years for Werner and enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Safety is a family affair for Daniel Bjork, a professional Werner driver and recent recipient of the 2 million safe driving miles award. His wife, professional Werner driver Katherine von Magnus, achieved the same accomplishment about two years ago.
“I couldn’t have done it without my wife,” said Bjork, a 21-year Werner veteran who was honored Dec. 13 at the Fourth Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony.
Described by his fleet manager as jovial, cordial and knowledgeable, Bjork offers a piece of advice to other drivers hoping to achieve a safe driving milestone.
“Pay attention,” he said. “Safety is an every day thing.”
When not on the road, Bjork and his wife reside in Federal Way, Wash., and enjoy spending time with their son, two daughters and soon-to-be eight grandchildren.
Werner Enterprises recently introduced a three-tiered Million Mile Safe Driver Truck Program designed to recognize professional Werner drivers who have achieved safe driving milestones of 1, 2 or 3 million miles with new trucks and accessories.
The new program offers professional drivers the opportunity to order new trucks equipped with an auxiliary power unit (APU) with 110-volt service and assorted accessories available depending on the safe driving milestone achieved.
“It takes a lot of dedication to strike the perfect balance between efficiently moving our country’s freight and ensuring the safety of the motoring public,” said Derek Leathers, president and COO of Werner Enterprises. “We are fortunate to have quite a few of these exceptional professional drivers on our team. Drivers who accumulate millions of safe miles deserve to be recognized for their hard work, and that’s what we plan to do with this industry-leading program.”
Drivers with 1 million safe driving miles at Werner are eligible to order a new truck with a special decal package, while drivers with 2 or 3 million safe driving miles at Werner also can choose from accessory packages and premium upgrades.
Werner currently has approximately 570 professional drivers eligible for this program. Overall, more than 1,500 professional Werner drivers have achieved 1 million or more safe driving miles.
Americans throughout the country expressed gratitude on Veterans Day to those who have served in our military. Werner Enterprises hosted its own special ceremony Nov. 11 at its Omaha, Neb., headquarters to honor and celebrate our veterans.
Guest speakers included President and COO Derek Leathers, Associate Vice President of Human Resources Chris Polenz, Director of Government and Field Recruiting Jim Morbach and inaugural Freedom 1 professional driver Dave Conkling.
“On Veterans Day, it should be your mission to thank a veteran,” Polenz said. “So find a veteran at Werner, in your family or in your neighborhood. Extend a hand, salute them and give them a big thanks.”
Leathers urged members of the audience to show gratitude not just on Veterans Day, but all year long.
“Take the time to thank a veteran for what they do every day when they are out there fighting for people they have never met and protecting people they will never know,” he said.
Photos from the event are available in the photo album.
What would you do if you witnessed a car accident? Would you stop and try to assist? Professional driver Tom Pietrzak and his student Dodie Weikert were faced with the same question and, for them, the answer was clear.
While southbound on Highway 55 in Illinois June 15, 2013, Pietrzak and Weikert witnessed a Dodge Caravan lose control and roll several times. Pietrzak immediately made the decision to stop and help.
Weikert, a trained paramedic, ran to the driver’s side of the vehicle to assist the female driver, who was unresponsive and bleeding. She mobilized the driver’s spine and opened her airway while Pietrzak controlled a crowd of bystanders. In the back seat, the pair discovered a 15-day-old infant, in a car seat tipped sideways, and a 3-year-old child, unrestrained by a seatbelt. After attempting to break a back window with various tools, Pietrzak used his hand to punch through the window and pull the baby to safety.
“Certainly Tom is one of those kind of people who decides to stop,” said Chris Polenz, assistant vice president of Human Resources. “We always hope we are those kind of people, and we would take similar actions if presented in a similar circumstance.”
Weikert, a certified emergency technician with seven years of critical care, ambulance and hospital experience, humbly referred to her actions that day as second nature.
“I hope I didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done,” she said. “I am deeply honored to have received this award.”
Humanitarian awards honor those who demonstrate lifesaving efforts, selflessly helping others in a time of need.
One never expects an impromptu visit to a friend’s house to turn into a life or death situation, but thankfully Steve Nissen, heavy equipment appraiser, was prepared.
On the evening of Aug. 14 in Weeping Water, Neb., Nissen was visiting his friend and co-worker, Dixie Norris, when she began having speech difficulties and fell convulsing from her chair. While 911 was dialed and a neighbor ran for help, Nissen rolled Norris, who had no pulse and was not breathing, on her back and began chest compressions. Norris soon began breathing and regained consciousness by the time the ambulance arrived.
“I got lucky,” said Nissen, who has had no formal medical training.
Lucky or not, his heroic actions were recognized and honored Sept. 20 with a Humanitarian award.
“It gives me a great, great honor to present somebody who is not only a true friend of ours in our hometown, but someone who if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be today,” said Norris, who presented Nissen the award.
Humanitarian awards honor those who demonstrate lifesaving efforts and selflessly help others in a time of need.
A true professional not only excels at what they do, but also chooses to lead by example. In his 22-year career with Werner, professional driver James O’Halloran has mentored approximately 172 trainees during his 19 years as a trainer.
O’Halloran has had plenty of real-world experience and knowledge to pass on to the drivers in training – he earned the 3 million safe driving miles award at the Sept. 20 Third Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony.
O’Halloran, an army veteran from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., has more than made an impact on the road with his students. He also formed a valuable friendship with his dedicated manager of eight years, Vince Bruce. The two share an avid interest in golf and took in a game the day before the awards ceremony.
“Jim, thank you for being my friend, being a great driver and representing Werner,” Bruce said.
When not on the road, O’Halloran enjoys spending time with his wife.