Fleet Owner hosted the magazine’s 2016 Fleet of the Year awards presentation at a special dinner held at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in conjunction with the 2017 Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) convention in Nashville, TN, with WIX Filters co-sponsoring the 15th annual recognition of fleet excellence.

Jim Mele, Fleet Owner’s editor-in-chief, Sean Kilcarr, the magazine’s executive editor, and Mike Harvey, national sales manager for WIX Filters, all helped present the annual Fleet of the Year awards to representatives from four of the five category winners: Dan Carrano, director of fleet maintenance for A. Duie Pyle; Robert Hendrix, fleet director for Waste Industries; Jeremy Gravely, director of operations-East for Gemini Motor Transport, a division of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores; and Garth Pitzel, director of safety and driver development for Bison Transport.

“There is no formal nomination or application process for our Fleet of the Year awards,” Mele noted during the presentation. “Our editors interact with hundreds of fleets in course of a year and while all have valuable stories to tell, a few simply stand out from the rest – for their management skills, for their successes, and most of all for their innovative approaches to excellence in fleet operations.”

“This is our opportunity to recognize just some of the outstanding fleets working in the trucking industry today – fleets in for-hire truckload, for-hire less-than-truckload, private, vocational, and government sectors, operating everything from light trucks up to Class 8 over-the-road tractor trailers,” Kilcarr said.

Bison Transport, a North American truckload fleet based out of Manitoba, Canada, won top honors in the for-hire truckload category for its efforts in building an outstanding corporate culture and safety record. Bison has taken home the Safe Fleet Award from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) six years in a row, has been recognized seven times as one of the “Best Fleets to Drive For” by the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and been named by Waterstone Human Capital for having one of Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Culture two years in a row – the only trucking company in Canada to have ever earned this award from Waterstone.

A. Duie Pyle, a privately held LTL regional carrier that predominantly serves the Northeast out of West Chester, PA, took home the trophy in the for-hire less-than-truckload category for its focus on safety, customer service, and continuous improvement. The motor carrier was specifically recognized for its unique Protect From Freeze (PFF) service, its efforts to develop trucks drivers from within the ranks of its own warehouse personnel, and environmental efforts such as installing solar panels on several of its warehouses to reduce energy consumption – all while remaining a fourth generation family-owned business.

Gemini Motor Transport out of Oklahoma City, OK – the fuel delivery arm of Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores – took home top honors in the private carriage category for the culmination of a five-year “safety/longevity” driver retention program. The motor carrier paid out $3.4 million in bonuses last year to an inaugural class of 135 “safe drivers” worth in some cases up to half of their annual pay – some $25,000 to $35,000. On top of that, Love’s executives spent six to seven weeks traveling the country to hand out the checks in person at special ceremonies for the drivers, their families and guests – complete with a banquet.

The City of Buckeye, Arizona, with a fleet of 410 vehicles, took home the trophy in the government fleet category for its work to encourage leadership skills among its truck technician workforce, involving them with industry associations and internship programs at local high schools and community colleges as a way to encourage “new blood” to join the truck technician field. Buckeye’s fleet operation also ensures competitiveness by establishing a labor rate that is actually lower than neighboring maintenance facilities, allowing it to save more than $43,000 in one year by performing in-house warranty repairs.

Waste Industries, a refuse fleet based in Raleigh, NC, received top honors in the vocational category for its efforts to actively market its investment in compressed natural gas (CNG) trucks operation to win more business form the residential and commercial customers it serves; going so far as to hold “rollout events” in local neighborhoods to tout its “clean” service, further leveraging their investment in alternative fuels as part of a broader “branding strategy” to try and build market share.

“We congratulate all of our winners for the examples of excellence they are setting in fleet operations,” Kilcarr noted.