2015 Top Tech Award Winners

Werner’s Gra-Gar team is among the most talented in the industry, and its Omaha technicians had the chance to put their skills on display when Werner hosted its first in-house Top Tech competition.

Technicians showcased their knowledge through both written and practical applications as they competed for bragging rights as Werner’s Top Tech for 2015.

“This competition really shows the depth of the experience and knowledge they have,” said Scott Reed, senior vice president of Maintenance.

This year’s Top Tech honors went to Brett Heitman. Heitman, who has been a tractor A technician with Werner for one year, received his training at WyoTech. Earlier this summer, Heitman competed at the Nebraska State SuperTech competition and placed fifth out of 96 competitors.

Jeremy Roll earned second place in the Top Tech competition. Roll has three and half years under his belt as a tractor A technician and received his training from Northeast Community College.

The third place finalist was Ed Finnell. Finnell, who received his formal training at Iowa Western Community College, is a seasoned tractor A technician with 25 years of Werner service.

“Technicians play a vital role in the safety and efficiency of our fleet,” said Craig Albers, director of Trailer Operations. “It’s nice to see their accomplishments and be able to quantify them.”

The team hopes to roll the competition out to additional terminals in the future.

Brad Graybill Headed to Nationals

Professional driver Brad Graybill has one thing on his mind, and he’s been very vocal about it – he wants to become the best Flatbed driver in the country. As luck, or rather skill, would have it, he has positioned himself perfectly to do so.

Graybill took first place in the Flatbed class at the Nebraska State Truck Driving Championships in June. As he prepares for the National Truck Driving Championships in St. Louis Aug. 11-15, he reflects on his journey and what it could mean.

“It’s a big thing for me,” Graybill said. “I’m competing against the best of the best. If I win, I will be the first Werner driver to win a national championship.”

Graybill started competing in the state competition back in 2010 as an alternate and said practicing and competing has helped to sharpen his skills. He also gives a lot of credit to the invaluable support of his teammates throughout the years.

For Graybill, a 37-year professional driver and 32-year Navy veteran who placed third and fourth in past state competitions, a win in St. Louis would be the highlight his career. But regardless of the outcome, Graybill plans to keep driving at least a few more years with the goal of achieving 1 million accident-free miles.

After that? Perhaps retirement for the Victorville, California, native and the chance to spend more time with his wife, Jan, and three children and seven grandchildren.

Gary Gray – 2 Million Miles Accident Free

When you love what you do, it shows and such is the case for professional driver Gary Gray. His pride and enthusiasm were undeniable at the June 9 Second Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony when he received the 2 million mile accident-free award.

A Werner driver since 1995, Gray has trained more than 50 students, offering such advice as “expect the unexpected,” “keep a proper following distance” and “know your limitations.”

Regarding his award, Gray said, “I just took the knowledge Werner gave me and my skills and applied them.”

The native of Rialto, California, enjoys photography, playing guitar and spending time with his favorite passenger – his wife, Jilbrette.

Werner Recognizes Four Professional Drivers for Safety Achievements

Werner honored four professional drivers on June 9 for their safety milestones during the company’s Second Quarter Associate Recognition Ceremony at its global headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska.

Gary Higgins and Robert Fluharty were honored with 3 million mile accident-free awards, while Gary Gray and Jeff Wessinger each were presented with a 2 million mile accident-free award.

“Their years of service as well as their safety accomplishments exemplify a superior level of loyalty and commitment,” said Eric Downing, vice president of Dedicated Services.

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Werner Takes Third at the Nebraska State Truck Driving Championships

The Nebraska State Truck Driving Championships took place June 6 in Grand Island, Nebraska, and our Werner team of professional drivers took home third place overall.

Brad Graybill placed first in the Flatbed Class, earning a trip to the national competition in St. Louis, Missouri, Aug. 11-15.

Tim Dean placed second in the Third-Axle Class and received the Professional Excellence Award for achieving the highest score on the written test.

Chris Baade placed second in the Twin Trailer Class.

Rebecca Heck took second place in the Sleeper Class.

David Korkosz earned second place in the Straight Truck Class.

Brian Schoemig placed second in the Tanker Class.

Congratulations to all of our professional drivers who participated at state and represented Werner so well.

Nebraska State Truck Driving Competitor – Brian Schoemig

Professional Werner driver Brian Schoemig will be competing in the Tanker class at the Nebraska State Trucking Driving Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 6.

Schoemig, a native of Sacramento, California, has competed the past four years because he finds the experience fun and he enjoys the people. A Werner driver since 2005, he currently drives as a team with his girlfriend, Sarah.

The Navy veteran and father of three sons enjoys racing radio control cars, fishing, four-wheeling and mudding.

Nebraska State Truck Driving Competitor – Crystal Varvel

Professional Werner driver Crystal Varvel will be competing in the Step Van class at the Nebraska State Trucking Driving Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 6.

Varvel began her Werner career in 2010 driving as a team with her husband, Jim. After he passed away, Varvel stayed in the trucking industry and decided to take on new challenges – one being her first state competition this year.

From Valles Mines, Missouri, the mother of four girls enjoys riding and taking care of her horses, two beautiful gypsy vanners.

Nebraska State Truck Driving Competitor – Chris Baade

Professional Werner driver Chris Baade will be competing in the Twin-trailer class at the Nebraska State Trucking Driving Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 6.

Baade is in his sixth year of state competition, and he does it because he loves the challenge. A Werner driver and trainer since 2005, Baade has trained nearly 160 students over the last 10 years, helping them to safely start their professional driving careers.

When not on the road, the father of two grown sons enjoys coin collecting, fishing and playing pool at his home in Rochester Hills, Michigan.

Nebraska State Truck Driving Competitor – Larry Derr

Professional Werner driver Larry Derr will be competing in the Four-Axle class at the Nebraska State Trucking Driving Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 6.

Derr, a Werner driver since 1992, is an avid competitor who previously participated in the state competition 12 times and advanced to nationals seven times.

Derr also is an active member of the community, volunteering for safety events with the Omaha Police Department and charity events with the Boy Scouts. Each year, Derr participates in the Special Olympics Nebraska convoy.

Derr and his wife, Joann, have six daughters and eight grandchildren.

Nebraska State Truck Driving Competitor – Brad Graybill

Professional Werner driver Brad Graybill will be competing in the Flatbed class at the Nebraska State Trucking Driving Championships in Grand Island, Nebraska, on June 6.

Graybill, a Werner driver since 2008, enjoys competition and being part of the Werner team. He says the experience gives him the opportunity to sharpen his skills and meet new people. Graybill has participated in the competition the last four years and placed third in the Flatbed class in 2013.

The 32-year Navy veteran and native of Victorville, California, enjoys spending time with his wife, three kids – Tony, Cory and Jennifer – and seven grandchildren. He also enjoys model railroading and woodworking.

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