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Trucking industry stars honored at Nebraska Trucking Association 2020 Fall Conference

While many state trucking associations cancelled their fall events, the Nebraska Trucking Association pushed forward to offer education, networking and annual industry awards Sept. 23-25.

More than 200 people registered for the event which started with an impressive list of speakers who presented information in a series of webinars throughout the week.

Webinar experts included Chris Spear, president and CEO, of the American Trucking Associations; followed by a panel of trucking leaders including Derek Leathers, vice chairman, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises; Tonn Ostergard, CEO and Chairman of Crete Carriers; and Linda Ingram-Jasa, president of Jasa Transit and Ingram Tank Wash. The final speakers for the week were Gov. Pete Ricketts and Sen. Deb Fischer who addressed trucking issues from a state and federal level.


“We have to keep an eye on the health and wellbeing of all of our associates and drivers out there —  everyone who kept America moving all year long,” said Derek Leathers, vice chairman, president and CEO of Werner Enterprises. “That is doable. This industry has proven how doable that is.  Drivers and mechanics, by in large, came in and worked throughout the pandemic and if they take the right precautions and they have the right supplies, they can stay very safe.”

“We saw a lot of stakeholders making decisions impacting adversely on our trucking industry,” said Chris Spear, president and CEO, of the American Trucking Associations, referring to early COVID-19 regulations. “Some of the restrictions were well intentioned for constituents but not very well thought-through. Governors and mayors from New York to San Francisco were geo-fencing not allowing commercial vehicles in and out. How would we get food on the shelves? We had to step in and our state association executives — like Kent — made sure we amplified the issues and why those were bad ideas and they needed corrected.”

“I included a pilot program in the FAST Act to study the effects of allowing 18- to 20-year-olds with military experience to drive in interstate commerce,” said Sen. Deb Fischer. “As you know 18- to 20-year-olds can drive all the way across Nebraska from Scottsbluff to Omaha but they can’t cross state lines. The information that DOT gathers (in this study) will better inform Congress on the safety of these drivers who could go on to play key roles in the trucking industry.”

“The addition of women into the driving and maintenance force, just all areas of trucking, is a very positive thing,” said Linda Ingram-Jasa, president of Jasa Transit and Ingram Tank Wash. “I hope that continues to build, and, with the driver shortage, it can only help.”

“The drivers, mechanics and dispatchers make it happen.  For our state, this is incredibly important because we are an agricultural state and we need to move our goods to market, and we’re also a manufacturing state,” said Gov. Pete Ricketts. “It is important that we have a strong trucking industry, which we do here in Nebraska, and we’re just so grateful for all your work.  Not only day in and day out but specifically during this pandemic.”

“This (insurance and liability) is an issue that needs to be addressed and it is not small versus large carriers,” said Tonn Ostergard, CEO and Chairman of Crete Carriers. “Systemically, it leads into safety issues where we need to be proactively managing to avoid these things. If we don’t proactively regulate ourselves, the government will impose that upon us.”


The week concluded with a major in-person celebration at Werner Park in Omaha.  Families were on hand to enjoy a truck show, exhibitors, food and the NTA “Of the Year” Awards presentations.

The 2020 Fleet Safety Grand Champion was Greater Omaha Express. This award recognizes the safest truckload fleet in Nebraska.

2020 NTA “Of the Year” Award Winners:
Woman of Distinction: Rhonda Lahm,  Director Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles
James E. Ryan Golden Deeds:  Charlie Bosselman, Bosselman Enterprises; Dave Shoemaker, Shoemaker Travel Plaza; and Andrew Richard Chief Operating Officer and President, Sapp Bros. Inc.
Driver of the Year:   Bruce Sinner, Chief Carriers
Dispatcher of the Year:   Fred Lambrecht, Hunt Transportation

Technician of the Year:   Joe Burson, Grand Island Express

Maintenance Supervisor of the Year:  Dean Lewis, Chief Carriers
Professional Service Award:   Deen Albert, Grand Island Expres
Safety Director of the Year:   Robin Boring, Crete Carrier Corp.

Fleet Safety Plaques:

Contract Carriers: Chief Carriers Inc.; Fremont Contract Carriers; Greater Omaha Express; NSG Transport; Graber Trucking; Zeitner & Sons Inc.

Heavy Hauler: Hunt Transportation

Household Goods Movers: I-Go Van and Storage Co.

Less than Truckload: FedEx Freight

Tank Truck Bulk Carriers: Wynne Transport Service, Dokter Trucking

Truckload Carriers: Williams Transportation; Grand Island Express; Crete Carrier Corp, Midwest Express; Hill Brothers Transportation Inc; Bernard Pavelka Trucking; FedEx Freight; Seward Motor Freight; Schulz Transportation Services; Graber Trucking

President’s Safe Driving Club Awards: The PSDC honors the companies who track and honor their drivers through the Presidents Safe Driving Club program. Great West Casualty Company helped the Nebraska Trucking Association launch the program 40 years ago. Twenty-eight companies participated this year and four long-time PSDC drivers were highlighted including:

  • Michael Utesch, 40 years, Hunt Transportation
  • Steven Mains, 30 years, I-Go Van and Storage
  • Daniel Whalen, 30 years, Wynne Transport
  • Wesley Redden, 25 years, Dokter Trucking

660 drivers were recognized this year. Of those, 31 drivers held more than 20 years and 165 were first-year honorees. Congratulations to these drivers!


The NTA Mission:  We deliver so you can. That’s our mission.

We’re the statewide trade association for commercial truck and bus operators, and affiliated businesses. We deliver the essential knowledge, contacts, services, political representation and partnerships that help our members continue to deliver the goods to Nebraska communities and throughout North America.