After 13 years and more than 1.6 million miles on the road, a Grovetown man was named truck driver of the year by a national trucking company.
National Carriers, Inc., which operates throughout the continental United States, honored James ‘‘Randy’’ Barnett as its driver of the year at a Dallas banquet March 8.
Barnett said in his 13 years with the company, he’s never turned down any load, and has driven across 48 states.
“He’s one of the finest guys that runs under the radar that you’ll ever find,” said Ed Kentner, social media director for National Carriers, who has known Barnett over his 13 years with the company. “He doesn’t speak accolades. He just does his job.”
Barnett said he has worked as a truck driver for 24 years, following in the treadmarks of the men in his family.
“I grew up in a trucking company,” he said. “My granddaddy, my daddy, everybody on my mama’s side of the family – all her brothers drove trucks. Everybody always tells me I was the only one crazy enough in my generation to take it on as a career.”
He worked for several independent trucking companies before moving to National Carriers, which he said has been good to him.
After being named the top driver for October, Barnett was invited to the Dallas banquet where the company honors its 12 drivers of the month and names the driver of the year.
Kentner explained the process of choosing the recipient of the award.
“We have nominations (for driver of the month) and those nominations can come from anyone with National Carriers,” he said. “It can be someone in the office, it could be someone in a truck, it could be a customer.”
Of those nominees, a committee, of which Kentner is the head, examines the driver’s attitude, accident history and delivery history.
“We just compare them to each other to see who has the best safety ratings, who’s run the most safe miles, et cetera,” he said. “The one who comes out on top is the one who’s named driver of the month.”
Kentner said the winning driver is presented with a $500 check along with a mantle clock, jacket and truck decals advertising the award. The driver of the year gets a $5,000 check.
Kentner said Barnett faced tough competition.
“He went up against the best of the best,” he said.
Barnett said National Carriers paid for his family’s trip to the Dallas banquet so they could see him win the award, and Barnett’s wife, Wanda, was already wise to his award.
“My wife knew about it for about three weeks but she didn’t tell anybody,” Barnett said. “She didn’t tell my mother, didn’t tell my daughter or my son or nobody.”
Barnett said he initially sat dumbfounded when he was named driver of the year, but once reality set in, he and his 2-year-old granddaughter went up on stage to accept the award.
“It was a good feeling; I ain’t going to lie to you,” he said.
When asked what he plans on doing with the money from the award, Barnett said most of it will go toward paying bills. “I’m not one for throwing money away,” he said.
He said he and his wife just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and some of the money will go toward a vacation.