For Saia LTL Freight, driving excellence isn’t just a goal — it’s a lifestyle. It’s not a mindset that is pushed from the top down, but rather one that is adopted by the entire company. But what is “excellence” really? In an industry where delivering freight safely and on time is most important to the customer, excellence means quite a bit more to the drivers at Saia.
The first measure of excellence for both the company and its drivers is safety — not just of the freight, but of the drivers, the driving public, the tractor and trailer. All of it. Safe, accident-free driving is the number one priority of the company, and the numbers show that Saia’s drivers feel the same way. Just recently, at the 2017 first quarter meetings, Saia handed out over 3,300 safety awards to drivers.
This award is earned each year a driver goes without an “at fault” accident. For those who earned this for the fourth time, they were awarded with a custom jacket. For those making it to one million miles of safe driving (generally about eight years), a ring was awarded. For every additional four years of safe driving, a driver receives a diamond to add to his or her ring.
As proof of Saia’s sustained excellence, 1,500 drivers, about 25 percent of all of Saia’s drivers, can claim ownership of a million-mile ring.
For one driver, William Salter of New Orleans, the ring has had to make several trips back to the jewelers for additional diamonds. William just logged his 39th safety award. Nearly four decades of flawless driving has made him the highest-tenured safety award winner.
But he’s not the only one that has made safe driving a priority. The following drivers also received awards for their respective years of accident-free driving behind the wheel:
- Charles Layman of Tampa, Fla., 32 years
- David Williamson of Phoenix, Ariz., 30 years (David recently retired.)
- James Fowler of Portland, Wash., 25 years
- Leah Evans, Charlotte, N.C., 14 years (Leah is the longest-tenured female driver at Saia; her husband, Larry, also received his 11th safety award.)
And, while safety is a major factor of driving excellence, there is more to the job. Drivers like William Salter, Charles Layman and David Williamson, don’t make it with one company for 30-plus years because they’re just safe on the roads. They are loyal, passionate drivers who dedicate themselves to being the best sales people, acting as well-educated and informative advocates for Saia every time they are in front of a customer. They dedicate themselves to being meticulous quality control managers, helping to ensure that freight is secure and delivered in the condition it was tendered in.
The road to driver excellence isn’t a single lane. It’s not enough just to be safe or just to get freight from point A to point B. Driving excellence comes when all of these goals are achieved at the same time, and this will forever be the aim of Saia and its drivers.
To view images from this year’s safety awards presentation, visit the Saia Careers Facebook page. To see how our drivers are prepared for a safe career on the road, check out our video, Safety: a Look at Driver Training.