Association News
Meet the nominees

It’s important that you take the opportunity to participate in OOIDA’s 2012 Board of Directors Alternate election by voting for those nominees you feel are qualified to sit on the OOIDA Board.

Ballots will be mailed to members in mid-November. This process is an important part of your membership as you are responsible for electing the individuals who lead and guide your Association. As part of the election process we will broadcast interviews of the nominees on “Land Line Now” this month. We will also post interviews on the OOIDA website.

To help you with the election process, short bios and comments from nominees are featured here.

Every two years, OOIDA holds an election for alternates to the Association’s Board of Directors. The Nomination-Election Committee has determined the list of nominees, made up of members who have had a minimum of five consecutive years of commercial truck driving experience and five consecutive years of active membership in the Association immediately before the nomination.

Alternates will be elected by and from the membership for two-year terms. Voting is open to life members, senior members, members and retired members who are current on their dues.

The elected alternates will be seated at the spring 2013 board meeting.

Nine nominees are on the 2012 ballot for alternate to the Board, in addition to the existing alternates. Ballots will go out in November and are due back by Dec. 31.

Here is a little information about each nominee:

Steve Bixler, Valley View, PA, is an OOIDA senior member. He has been a member since 2001 and is 55 years old. He is an owner-operator with his own authority. Steve currently hauls sand in a pneumatic tank and potatoes in a reefer.

Steve has been in the trucking industry for more than 34 years. He heard about OOIDA from his father-in-law who was a member. He was impressed by OOIDA’s service to owner-operators.


Steve decided to run for the board because he has grown tired of the establishment telling him what he can and can’t do. He thought what better way to try and help not only his own business but all truckers than by becoming a board member. He said he wanted to give something back to OOIDA, which has helped him tremendously over the past 10 years.

Steve believes that every group, no matter how large or small, needs to have representatives to convey their beliefs and goals.

“I see the OOIDA directors as those people. They also make sure OOIDA runs smoothly as an organization and they see that ‘all’ truck drivers are looked after on the matters that affect us all. I believe that as an alternate, it will be my duty not only to learn all I can about OOIDA and how the board functions, but also to step up to the plate and add my input on matters I feel are important to the members, OOIDA and the industry,” Steve said.

According to Steve, one of the biggest problems faced by new drivers to the industry today is a lack of good quality training. Many large carriers put new drivers with a trainer for several weeks and then turn them loose. They don’t take the time to teach them the things they need to know.

The three biggest industry problems for all drivers today are unpaid waiting times at docks, inadequate pay and rates, and a lack of safe and secure truck parking.

Steve said that his experience and good speaking skills would make him an asset to the board. He considers himself an old-school trucker. He came into the industry just before deregulation so he has first-hand knowledge of the industry before and after deregulation. Even with all his experience, however, he says he never stops learning and strives to learn a little more each day.

Noel Carpenter, 42, is an OOIDA life member from Moore, OK. Noel has been in the trucking industry for more than 21 years and is currently an owner-operator with his own authority. He hauls LTL frozen seafood.

Noel joined OOIDA more than 13 years ago because, in his words, “I wish to be a part of my industry more than just driving. I want to make a difference.”


Noel feels very strongly that training standards for new drivers must be addressed. Big carriers shouldn’t be allowed to train drivers in mere weeks or months and send them out on the road.

“Statistics specifically state that commercial vehicle accident rates are the lowest they have been since 1980-something, yet groups like PATT and CRASH continue to push all these regulations on EOBRs and don’t focus on the training standards of new entrant drivers,” he said.

Noel feels that he can contribute to the board because he has had a wide variety of experience in the industry and he is very passionate about being part of it. He has been a company driver, an owner-operator leased to a carrier, and an independent contractor – and is now an owner-operator with his own authority. He says he has good people and communication skills and believes he can use his knowledge, skills and experience to represent the interests of the members.

To be successful in the trucking industry, Noel believes you have to keep informed of all the issues going on in the industry. You can’t sit on the sidelines waiting for others to do it for you. Second, you must know your cost of operation and your bottom line. Truckers should not be in the business to break even; they should be in it to make a profit. Too many people don’t know their cost per mile or expenses from the previous month. Those won’t make it in this business. Finally, Noel says you need to find your niche and work that to your best advantage.

Noel has one child, is a member of the NRA, and is interested in old cars and guns.

Johanne Couture is from Brockville, Ontario, Canada. She is 43, has been in the trucking industry for more than 17 years, and has been a member of OOIDA since 2005. Johanne is an owner-operator leased to a carrier and currently hauls liquid chemicals.

Johanne joined OOIDA because she believes “to see things change, you have to get involved.”


Being from Canada, Johanne believes she could offer a new, unique perspective to the board. Regulations and laws are different in Canada – sometimes better and sometimes worse. She says she would be able to give insight into issue discussions as to how the processes in Canada differ and what she sees as positives and negatives.

Johanne feels that she could also contribute to the board by offering a female view of the industry. Currently, more than 5 percent of the drivers in the industry are female.

“I have earned the respect of my peers by being 100 percent professional. Perception is reality when positive image is involved,” Johanne said.

One of the biggest problems faced by new drivers to the industry is their exploitation by unscrupulous carriers, according to Johanne. We need to find ways to better educate these new drivers so they don’t fall into some of these common carrier traps.

Johanne believes that three of the most important problems faced by a majority of drivers today are speed limiters, which limit fair competition and have no impact on safety; the threat of mandatory EOBRs, which are an invasion of driver privacy and have no impact on safety; and the cross-border trucking program with Mexico, which brings with it rate cutting and substandard equipment.

To be successful in the trucking industry, Johanne says you need to keep close track of your numbers. She has been an owner-operator since 1998. “You have to know when to cut your losses. You can’t stay loyal to a carrier that is constantly reducing your rates. You have to know when to leave,” she said.

In her spare time, Johanne volunteers as a truck show organizer.

Tilden Curl is from Olympia, WA. He is 53, an OOIDA senior member, and an owner-operator with his own authority. He pulls a stepdeck through seven western states.

Tilden has been in the trucking industry for more than 20 years. He joined OOIDA in 2001 to be better informed about the industry and to have support as an independent operator.


Tilden has been doing advocacy work in the industry for the past several years. He is an advocate for driver education. He would like to become part of the OOIDA board so that he can continue this work. He believes OOIDA is the only organization that is concerned about the drivers.

Tilden said he can bring a fresh perspective to the board as he is a long-established carrier with a good reputation. He was selected as the 2010 Goodyear Highway Hero. He also received the Governor’s Lifesaving Award from Washington state. He has been a featured speaker at two trucking seminars and tries to educate people about the industry based on his experience.

Tilden sees a lack of training and preparation for what they will be encountering as the biggest problem faced by new drivers to the industry. There are no adequate training standards to prepare new drivers.

Tilden feels that communicating with lawmakers is an important part of being active in the industry. He mostly communicates by phone and sometimes by email. Occasionally he attends town hall meetings or one-on-one meeting events. He prefers the face-to-face meetings, but says those types of meetings are often hard to get.

To be successful in this industry, Tilden believes you have to love what you do and learn all you can about the business. You can be as successful in this industry as you want to be. It all depends on the work you are willing to put in.

Tilden is married and has four children. He is a member of the Harley Owners Group and enjoys riding his motorcycle.

Keith Jibben, 59, says his farm and trucking business are in Milbank, SD. He resides in nearby Graceville, MN. He joined OOIDA in 1989 and is a life member. Keith is an owner-operator leased to a small carrier. He hauls RGN and stepdeck freight in the U.S. and Canada.

Keith started driving a truck for a local cattle hauler at age 16 and has been in the industry for more than 42 years. He said that he joined OOIDA because he felt it was the only organization that really tried to look out for the small carriers and drivers in the U.S. and Canada.


To be successful in this industry, Keith says you have to have dogged perseverance. In addition, you have to pay close attention to your financial situation as well as keep up with all rules and regulations imposed by the federal government and the states.

Keith says that he believes he would be a benefit to the board because he is dedicated to the industry. He “walks the walk and talks the talk” when it comes to industry experience, knowledge and safety. Also, he says he would bring to the table his ability to work closely with his state legislature. He has worked with several local lawmakers to introduce bills to benefit drivers.

According to Keith, a lack of adequate driver training is the biggest problem faced by new drivers to the industry. We need driver training standards.

As far as problems faced by all drivers, Keith feels that a proposed EOBR mandate is the biggest problem.

“We don’t need them and we should fight them at every opportunity. This is only the tip of the iceberg and should be stopped,” he said.

The next biggest problem is unscrupulous brokers. We need to keep pursuing an increase in the broker bond. Finally, Keith believes that the current move toward increased tolling by many states needs to stop. The highways “have already been bought and paid for by the American taxpayers.”

Keith is married and has two children. He is a member of the Masons and Shriners, and he also farms wheat and soybeans on 235 acres.

Gordon Johnson is from Fredericktown, OH, and is 70 years old. He joined OOIDA in 2001 and is a life member. Gordon, an owner-operator leased to a carrier, hauls food products – dry, frozen and perishable.

Gordon has been in the trucking industry for more than 40 years. He joined OOIDA to keep up with changing rules and regulations and to get industry updates. He also felt that OOIDA was the place to go for tips about everything trucking.


Gordon wants to be an alternate board member because he believes he was put on Earth to be in the transportation business. Gordon says he has always kept abreast of what’s happening in the industry by reading Land Line and other trucking publications. In 2009, he was selected as the Greatwide owner-operator of the year. During the interviews he gave at that time, he talked about safe driving and having a good attitude. He believes that trucking has been good to him and he wants to give back to the industry.

Gordon is a driver trainer. He says one of the biggest problems faced by new drivers today is getting to know the flow of traffic around big cities. Gordon believes this goes back to training. He says we need to train new drivers better and teach them to be safe as safety and training go hand in hand.

According to Gordon, being successful in this industry depends on equipment choice, as well as understanding where to haul and knowing the freight lanes across the country. Customer relations and making friendships with other successful operators are other important pieces of being successful.

Some of the biggest problems faced by drivers today are laws that do not conform from state to state, environmental laws that differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and unpaid detention time. Gordon believes we need to work toward uniformity in all regulations and better pay and detention rules.

Gordon is married and has three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Gordon belongs to the NRA, North American Hunting Club and the Good Sam RV Club.

Dick Pingel, Plover, WI, is an owner-operator leased to a carrier. He is 59 and is an OOIDA life member. Dick is leased to a carrier and hauls LTL refrigerated freight.

Dick joined OOIDA in 1990 because of the lawsuit against the state of Tennessee involving illegal sleeper searches by the Tennessee Public Service Commission. He felt that he needed to support an organization standing up for the rights of drivers.


Dick believes he could contribute to the OOIDA board because, “for 30 years I have tried to present a positive image not only to the customers I deal with, but also in the way I drive around the general public. I have a passion for the industry and also an ability to look at numerous aspects of trucking. I have had the opportunities to make contacts with not only drivers, but company owners and government officials.”

Dick said we need a way to communicate to new drivers about how the industry really works before they ever even get to driving school. He said that we need to find a way to educate them so they can make a good decision as to whether this industry is the best career choice for them. The driver turnover is very high because new entrants are being sold a “bill of goods.”

According to Dick, some of the biggest problems faced by drivers today are industry over-regulation, allowing shippers and receivers to dictate how drivers do their jobs and the need to get more members involved in making the industry a better place to work.

To be successful, Dick says you have to make more than you spend, and you have to seek out good information about the industry. You need to make good contacts with people knowledgeable about the industry. Information is power. You also have to be a cautious and safe driver. It never hurts to have a bit of luck, too.

Dick has been married since 1973. He has two children and two grandchildren. He is a member of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, Women in Trucking and supports the Special Olympics convoy.

Tom Scott, 43, is a member from Kirkwood, MO. He is an owner-operator leased to Atlas Van Lines.

Tom joined OOIDA in 2006 because he says that over the years he has evolved from a quiet observer in the industry to a vocal critic of the public perception of the industry, which he believes is brought on by overzealous regulators and a media too intent on finding a “bad guy.” Tom realized that OOIDA was the only organization that represented drivers, and he wanted to be part of that.


Tom feels he would be able to contribute to the Association as an alternate to the board. He is a second-generation trucker and works for the same company his father worked for when Tom was young. He says that from an early age, his father instilled in him the duty a truck driver has to public safety. Driving a truck is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. Tom says he would bring these values and his experience in the household goods industry to board discussions.

As an alternate to the board, Tom believes his duties would be to learn about the issues important to the membership so he could report back to the board on members’ thoughts, ideas and suggestions. He would also spread the word about OOIDA so the Association can grow and flourish. Finally, Tom would lead by example and be the safest professional driver that he can be.

Tom says the biggest obstacle to attracting good people to the industry is limited opportunities for good-paying jobs for new drivers. In addition, the trucking industry is demanding on family time and is physically demanding, too. The industry isn’t always attractive to young people looking for a career. We need to improve the industry so we can retain the good drivers we have and attract new professionals.

To be successful, Tom uses a simple formula. He believes you have to make customers happy and manage your money.

Tom is married and has two small children – 3 and 6. He enjoys golf, skiing and live music – as work permits.

Bryan Spoon, Grandy, NC, is 40 years old and has been an OOIDA member since 2004. He is a third-generation trucker and is currently an owner-operator with his own authority. He hauls general flatbed freight.

Bryan joined OOIDA at the recommendation of a friend and fellow driver. He believes that he can contribute to the board because he is the definition of a small business. He runs safe and compliant and has a military background that taught him the importance of working with others as a team to achieve the goal of a better all around industry. He would bring this knowledge and experience to board discussions.


Bryan thinks it is his generation’s turn to step up. He says those that came before, the truckers of the ’70s and ’80s, did a lot for trucking. They took the industry from a time when truckers got no respect to one today where truckers have a voice in Washington.

“It’s time that guys my age take the wisdom that we got from those individuals that came before us and move forward with it. Move it forward into the digital age, getting new drivers into the Association. To keep something alive, whether a civilization or an organization, you have to have leadership at the top and members coming in at the bottom to carry on that experience,” Bryan said.

The industry needs to better train and educate new drivers, according to Bryan. Drivers need a basic education on how to get the license, proper time in the seat to learn how to actually drive the truck, and then continuing education to keep them informed about the industry. The training and education process needs to continue through a driver’s entire career.

To be successful in this business, you must work hard and be dedicated. Bryan also feels it’s imperative to join OOIDA to protect your rights and provide a level playing field for small carriers. Bryan says you get out what you put in.

Bryan has two children, 14 and 7. He recently retired from the U.S. Navy Reserves as a Chief Petty Officer (E-7) – U.S. Navy Seabees. LL