June 18, 2020

During these trying and unprecedented times, professionals across industries are stepping up—whether it’s grocery store employees ensuring store shelves are stocked, medical and healthcare professionals treating those affected, or truck drivers transporting freight of all kinds. As a small token of our continued appreciation for truck drivers, SmartDrive is recognizing the valiant efforts and sacrifices made through our “Everyday Heroes in Transportation” program.

Here are more of their stories.

When much-needed supplies were needed in COVID-19 hotspots, Jorge Marquez, with Trailiner, gladly accepted the job, even if it meant a 50-hour wait between drops. The wait didn’t matter; it’s the people. That’s why he’s a truck driver – to make a difference.

With both his father and grandfather driving trucks, Jorge has truck driving in his blood! He drove his first truck when he was 14 while working in his family business and has been with Trailiner for two years. He’s always maintained a sanitized truck, but takes even more precautions now. Even though he minimizes his time out of his truck, he is sure to wear a mask and gloves whenever he opens the door. “The truck is my quarantine.” Like Michelle, he takes extra precautions when goes home.

One of the positive aspects of the pandemic that Jorge appreciates is less traffic. He finds the roads are safer. He is also finding people are more appreciative for what he’s doing. Personally, Jorge appreciates the signs of encouragement he sees on the road every day and all that Trailiner is doing to help keep its drivers safe. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jorge’s motto is “the show must go on” and feels good that he can keep the show going. “We have to help ourselves, our country and our family.”

Although he can always be counted on to do a job well done, Chris Guarino, with Earl T. Wadhams Milk Haulers, has gone above and beyond during this current crisis. Every morning Chris cleans, inspects and disinfects his equipment to ensure he’s working in a safe environment. When other drivers see Chris taking this crisis seriously, his necessary precautions start to rub off on others. With restaurants shut down and plants cutting hours, milk haulers are – unfortunately – being forced to dump the milk they just picked up. Farmers are upset, but Chris remains cool, calm and collected as he talks with his farmers with great respect.

Chris’ job requires a lot of interaction with the public. Chris tries to maintain social distancing with receivers, plant managers, other drivers, etc., but finds it difficult. As a result, he goes back to basics – washing his hands, not touching his face and showering immediately when he gets home. His four and five-year-old children don’t understand why daddy can’t hug them but look forward to doing so after his shower! Chris has appreciated the reduced traffic on the roads but sees it coming back. He’s optimistic that people will remember safe driving, be patient and continue to respect truckers on the road.

“I can’t stay home. I’m a truck driver.” Those few words sum up Izet Kantarevic’s attitude when it comes to driving. Izet, Werner Enterprises driver and owner-operator, delivers to Dollar General stores throughout Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. With 16 years – and more than one million accident-free miles under his belt – Izet understands the importance of his job – particularly during the pandemic.

Since the pandemic began, and shoppers have increased their buying, store product has been coming off the shelves faster than drivers can deliver. Izet understands the importance of his deliveries to the communities waiting for them, so he works tirelessly to ensure the urgently needed supplies are delivered as quickly as possible so those who need them have one less thing to worry about.

As a 19-year-old from the former Yugoslavia, Izet understands the power of working hard. Having come to the United States from a refugee camp, he says the American dream is still alive, “I’m grateful to have worked my way up to where I am. I’m proud of my fleet and the 155 drivers I’ve personally trained. I do this because I love my job and for my five children.” Izet knows his children understand that truck driving is more than just driving and wishes other people did too. “I appreciate that everyone is supporting us now. I hope it continues long past the pandemic.”

Thank you to ALL of our heroes. America relies on you to ensure we get the goods and services we need. And, for all of the other heroes out there, let us know your story. Be sure to nominate your heroes so we can award them for the work they’re doing and share their stories.

Everyday Heroes in Transportation