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Inspiration Personified!

By on May 1, 2019
Citizen-1

Setting examples and inspiring others to achieve higher levels of professionalism have been consistent threads linking the 27 Honorees and 30 individuals selected during the first five years of the Citizen Driver program. Though small in number, the two 2019 Honorees and three individuals selected from more than 100 nominations, continue to be outstanding role models in terms of their professional and personal contributions to the trucking industry and the communities they serve. Through Citizenship, Safety, Health and Wellness, Community Involvement and Leadership, the 2019 Honorees have distinguished themselves by consistently going above and beyond. 

These daily difference makers have turned first driving jobs into careers, given more than they will ever receive, exhibited dignity and pride, and demonstrated courtesy and respect for everyone they encounter. The well-established tradition of selecting Citizen Driver Honorees who are shining examples is evident in the profiles appearing on the following pages.

When you meet the 2019 Citizen Drivers on the road, at industry events or perhaps at their designated TA or Petro locations, be sure to congratulate them for receiving this highest professional honor. While their many contributions have resulted in well-deserved recognition among families, friends, co-workers and the trucking industry at large, they continue to serve with the passion and humility every reader of this story can aspire to. 

STEEN GRONLUND

LONGMONT, COLORADO
MILE HI FOODS
PETRO Stopping Centers — Laramie, Wyoming

Citizen-2Steen Gronlund was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1945, and moved to Canada when he was eight. Settling in a small farming community in Saskatchewan, Steen was soon driving a farm truck, hauling grain. His love for big rigs started when he rode with a cattle hauler. That led to two driving jobs, by day with a drilling rig company and by night with a water delivery service. He hauled refrigerated food for Leprino Transportation during the next 20 years, ultimately moving on to Mile Hi Foods where he remains today. 

Steen has been recognized as “the epitome of a professional truck driver,” by the president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association and as “the best Trucker Buddy ever,” by a 4th grade student. His many accomplishments have been recognized by a long list of family, friends, peers and industry leaders.

Linda, his wife of 21 years, said, “I truly believe there is no safer place on the road than in Steen’s truck. He is loyal to his work, family and country. His strong work ethic is undisputed, as is his loyalty.” Daughter, Lorrie Fairbanks, commented, “He is a good man with an inner drive to be the best truck driver, and he’s committed to his career. I’m very proud of my dad. He has always had a strong work ethic and is a fun guy to be around.”

Becoming a 2018 finalist was a source of great pride for Steen but the best was yet to come. 

Citizen-2.1David Purcell, his fleet manager and 2019 nominator, as well as many others encouraged Steen to accept a second nomination. He continued delivering on his professional responsibilities, while adding several professional and personal testimonial letters to his portfolio, which extends back to his grade school days in Saskatchewan.

In His Own Words
“Becoming a 2019 Citizen Driver Honoree ranks right up there with becoming a U.S. citizen in 2006. I really appreciate the great support from my company, family, friends and prior Citizen Driver Honorees. Just being a two-time finalist placed me in some very elite company. All of the finalists are talented drivers and incredible people. I encourage anyone who has been nominated once or twice before, to accept a 2020 nomination. So many people are willing to provide suggestions for strengthening the material presented to the judges for their consideration.

I’m so pleased that TravelCenters of America developed the Citizen Driver program to recognize drivers for giving of their time and resources to others, both inside and outside the industry. We need many more of these goodwill ambassadors to talk up the driving profession and the many worthwhile causes that drivers and companies support. It’s incredible to see what some drivers have accomplished individually, and unbelievable to think what we can accomplish together. Oh my gosh, to think I’d enjoy a long truck driving career in my adopted country is beyond belief. To become a Citizen Driver Honoree is a crowning professional achievement. I’m proud and thrilled to receive this special recognition.” 

KENN & BETH ZELTEN

MENOMINEE, MICHIGAN
LANDSTAR BCOs — OWNER-OPERATORS
TA Travel Center — Zion, ILllinois

Citizen-3Kenn and Beth Zelten have been team driving owner-operators since buying their first truck in 1989. Kenn’s driving career began in the early 70s while he served in the Army. After meeting, it didn’t take long for Kenn and Beth to decide they wanted to drive together. He taught her how to upgrade from driving a bus to driving a big rig. Thirty years and 10 trucks later, they’re a highly respected duo and an inspiration to other drivers.

Grounded and humble, Beth and Kenn are dedicated to promoting and representing the industry in a professional and positive manner. They consistently make themselves available to mentor and help others. They dress in company logo shirts, slacks and jackets every day and treat all people with courtesy and respect. Kenn and Beth are socially and environmentally conscious and do whatever they can to reduce their carbon footprint.

Citizen-3.1Marcus Thompson of Volvo had this to say, “They were doing what is part of their life—being great citizens of our transportation community—sharing their lessons learned and tips with a new business team. That is their heart! To make things happen for others.” Landstar’s Michelle Brummett, their 2019 nominator, said, “They are kind and loving people. Beth will hug you the minute she sees you. I felt comfortable with them from the moment we met. They are just the kind of people who make friends so easily because they have an innate goodness that shines through at all times.” Coincidentally, Kenn and Beth appeared on the cover of the special 2015 RoadKing Family issue with Rachel, their dog at the time. The story involved videotaping a pilot TV show featuring companion animals in trucking.

In Their Own Words
“Somewhat reluctantly, we agreed to be nominated a third time,” said Beth. “Fortunately, we received a tremendous amount of encouragement from many people. With thanks to TA and Petro, we’re humbled to become 2019 Honorees. We didn’t do this for recognition. It’s simply a reflection of what we try to do every day, how we live our lives. There are so many people in this world who need a helping hand. Fortunately, Citizen Drivers and many others just as deserving serve as examples of how doing something positive can inspire others to pay it forward by giving of themselves.”

“Being named an Honoree is a reflection of drivers doing their jobs, going above and beyond sometimes, contributing to the industry, giving back,” said Kenn. “I’ve always said when you realize this is more than a job and accept it as a lifestyle, you’re on your way to becoming a true professional. I don’t judge young drivers just learning the ropes too harshly. I can remember when I was young, I had a lot to learn, and many older drivers helped me along the way. Those who’ve been in the industry for the long haul know what I’m talking about.” 

2020 Nominations To Open

Citizen-4Your Opportunity to Recognize a Deserving Candidate Starts June 1

The trucking industry has many professional drivers who are worthy of consideration as a 2020 Citizen Driver Honoree. All that’s needed is for you to nominate that special someone who stands out for his or her contributions to the industry and local community. Although you can’t nominate yourself, anyone can nominate you. 

Nomination Period 

2020 Citizen Driver candidates can be nominated from Saturday, June 1, 2019 through Saturday, August 31, 2019.

Eligibility 

A Citizen Driver nominee must be a professional truck driver who is currently employed and driving at the time of the nomination. Must be a legal resident of the United States or Canada who is a registered member of the UltraONE® Driver Rewards Club Program or the UltraONE® Expediter Driver Rewards Club Program.

Nominators 

Anyone can nominate a currently active driver including fleet owners and managers, fellow employees, husbands/wives, children, relatives, friends, significant others, customers, trucking organization members and trucking industry suppliers, etc.

Judges

In November 2019, a panel of distinguished trucking professionals will review the nominees, decide on a group of highly qualified finalists, and ultimately serve as judges who select one or more honorees.

Learn More

You can review the entry form and all details relative to submitting a 2020 Citizen Driver nomination at TA-Petro.com/CitizenDriver/Nominate-a-Driver/. 

Prior Honorees

Starting with the simple goal of recognizing one of the best things about the trucking industry—its dedicated, caring, salt-of-the-earth drivers—the TA and Petro Citizen Driver program has accomplished that and much more. Over time and combined with other image-enhancing programs spearheaded by many organizations, TravelCenters of America hopes to accomplish three things:

  1. Improve respect for drivers by others and by drivers themselves
  2. Increase the interest of those who are considering a driving career
  3. Enhance the comfort, safety and wellbeing of drivers on the road

The suggested focus criteria for nominees include: Citizenship, Safety, Health & Wellness, Community Involvement and Leadership. That said, all nominations will be considered. It is very difficult, and limiting, to truly define the criteria that make a particular driver someone the industry can be proud of. For some, it may be an abundance of accomplishments for one or two criteria. Still others may be exemplary because they are engaged in an admirable activity that doesn’t fit any of the suggested criteria. Like the prior honorees listed here, Citizen Drivers should be amazing people that everyone can admire and those within the industry can proudly count among their own. 

About Warren Eulgen

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