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story.lead_photo.caption Stephanie Freeman/Special to the Herald-Leader Riders and drivers converse in a parking lot in Albuquerque, N.M.

WEST SILOAM SPRINGS, Okla. -- A convoy of more than 30 truckers left the terminal of Hurricane Express Inc., Friday night as part of the first celebration of "The Great American Trucker."

The Great American Trucker, initiated by the West Siloam Springs-based company, is a celebration of the trucking industry as a whole, but more importantly, the drivers, said Sheldon Steinert, vice president of operations. In addition to employees of Hurricane Express, drivers from five other companies were present. This is the first year that the celebration has taken place and is expected to continue in future years. One of the main reasons for wanting to do it is to raise awareness about the amount of value truck drivers bring to the economy and people's everyday lives.

"The general public, they do not understand how difficult the job is," Steinert said. "A good portion of truck drivers' lives is spent away from their house over 300 days a year. They are on the road, nowhere near their house, their family or their bed. Instead, they are on the road moving goods that consumers take for granted.

"Consumers take for granted that when they go to the grocery store that there will be food on the shelves, they take for granted that if they go to a department store that there will be clothes, dry goods, and electronics there," Steinert said. "Even if a product is taken from a point of production to a railyard, shipyard or an airport, the shipment never would have gotten there without a truck driver, and people can forget that."

Other reasons for wanting to make the trip was to increase camaraderie between drivers and management or office staff, Steinert said. Although this has not been a problem, maintaining good relations between the two parties is something that it is important to the company and will therefore remain an ongoing priority.

Prior to their departure, the company held a cookout at its West Siloam Springs terminal for those participating in the trip. It included food, door prizes and representatives from a number of companies partnered with Hurricane Express. Some of these companies include Cummins Engines, Dennis Oil Company, Omnitracs, Arvest Bank or The Larson Group Peterbilt.

Along the way, participating drivers from all companies present enjoyed lunch at the Big Texan Ranch in Amarillo, Texas, and dinner at the Route 66 Casino in Albuquerque, N.M. Both meals were free of charge courtesy of Hurricane Express.

Aside from the drivers themselves, many of their wives and children were also in attendance, said Stephanie Freeman, digital marketing director. The trip's final destination was Barstow, Calif., at which point all of the drivers went their separate ways to return to work making deliveries in different cities across the country.

Freeman added that one of the best aspects of the trip was that it gave the truckers the opportunity to rest and socialize with their fellow drivers.

"It was just really good to see these drivers to just be able to sit together and have lunch and be able to talk in person," Freeman said. "They really, really showed a lot of pride for what they do, even the owner of the company was leading the pack."

General News on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Keep on truckin'

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