ORLANDO, FL (Sept. 18)—Nine drivers, including first-place winners from Nicholas & Company, U.S. Foodservice and Ben E. Keith Foods, were recognized for their exceptional performance following competition in the 2009 Food Industry Truck Driving Championship. The annual event, where safety is the focus, tests the skills and knowledge of food industry drivers. Combined, the drivers in the competition represented more than 64 million accident free miles.
The competition, held by the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), took place September 11-13 and included 102 drivers competing in three classes of trucks: Straight Trucks, 3-Axle and 5-Axle. Winners were announced September 13 at the event's awards banquet, sponsored by Penske Truck Leasing. To compete in the national event, drivers had to have first won a company or local competition. Contestants came from across the U.S. and from as far away as Hawaii and Canada.
“Having the best drivers in the industry come together to compete in this annual competition is really a remarkable experience,” said Steve Potter, senior vice president of industry relations at IFDA. “Every driver at this event is a proven professional who is honored to represent their company in a friendly competition that emphasizes skill and knowledge. There is competition involved, but it’s also about mutual respect and celebrating the skills and dedication of food industry drivers. These drivers are clearly motivated by excellence and this event is a fantastic way to reward them and support a strong safety culture.”
The three-part competition included a written examination to measure driver knowledge of safety and operating procedures, a vehicle inspection to uncover planted equipment defects and safety hazards that could affect vehicle readiness, and a driving course competition where drivers were evaluated on their ability to handle a series of six course problems that simulate everyday operating conditions. Drivers from a variety of companies participated including foodservice distributors, wholesale grocers, self-distributing retailers and manufacturers. All drivers, including the top prize award winners, were honored at the award banquet and each winner received a cash award, competition medallion and trophy.
Winners in the Straight Truck class included:
- First Place – Robert Caballero, Ben E. Keith Foods, San Antonio, TX
- Second Place – Mario Gonzales, H.E. Butt Grocery Company, Houston, TX
- Third Place – Leslie Ishikawa, Southern Wine & Spirits, Kapolei, HI
Winners in the 3-Axle (28-Foot Tractor/Trailer) class included:
- First Place – Donald Jacobs, U.S. Foodservice, Fort Mill, SC
- Second Place – Kevin Merritt, U.S. Foodservice, Salt Lake City, UT
- Third Place – John Sustiel, Cheney Brothers Inc., Riviera Beach, FL
Winners in the 5-Axle (48-Foot Tractor/Trailer) class included:
- First Place – Steve Tribe, Nicholas & Company, Inc., Salt Lake City, UT
- Second Place – Glenn Shaw, Food Lion, LLC, Dunn, NC
- Third Place – Bruce Thompson, Bozzuto’s, Inc., North Haven, CT
In addition to Penske, event sponsors were UniPro Foodservice, XATA Corporation, AFS Technologies, Sugar Foods Corporation, Coca-Cola North America Foodservice, Campbell Soup Company, Heinz North America, Georgia-Pacific Professional Food Services Solutions, J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc., Thermo King Corporation, Thomas M. Williams and Associates, Inc., Atlantic Driver Staffing and Lesesne Industries Inc.
Course equipment for the competition was provided by Penske Truck Leasing, Great Dane Trailers, Kidron and Sysco Corporation. Additionally, IFDA’s Platinum, Gold, and Silver Most Valued Partners provided financial support of this important industry safety event.
To view the full release with photos from the event, click here.