member Carol Ann Schlussler, an independent owner-operator who contracts
with Dart Transit Co., is the Truckload Carriers Association's 2002
"Independent Contractor of the Year." The announcement came March
11 at the TCA's annual convention in Orlando, FL.
As the "Independent Contractor of the Year," Schlussler will receive
a free International Class 8 tractor built to her specifications.
The TCA represents 469 truckload motor carriers that operate 200,000
trucks. Each year the association conducts a search for the most
outstanding U.S. truckdrivers.
Schlussler has driven a truck professionally for 16 years, all of
them with Dart, where she has accumulated more than two million
miles without an accident or traffic ticket. She is the second woman
and the fifth Dart Transit contractor to win the award in the past
"We're incredibly proud of Carol Ann," says Gary Randall, Dart vice
president of operations. "She began her career with Dart, and this
is her crowning achievement."
While Carol Ann is the daughter of a trucker, she chose the driving
profession because of a truckdriver she never met, and because of
her courage in the face of personal adversity. At age 11, she contracted
polio and was quarantined in a hospital, where she was isolated
from her family and friends.
A truckdriver who made daily deliveries to the hospital befriended
her during that lonely time. He brought her encouragement by waving
to her from the delivery dock and making cardboard signs that she
could see from her hospital window. If spared from the iron lung,
she would become a truckdriver to help others, she vowed.
She recovered from her polio, and when she grew up, she married
a farmer and became mother to five children of their own, plus two
foster children. When her husband was disabled by illness, she was
determined to keep the family together. Single handedly she took
over the farm, raising 300 hogs, and hauled cattle locally for cash
to supplement the family income. When the children were old enough
for her to be gone, her sister (also a Dart contractor) helped her
become a certified driver at Dart. She purchased her own truck,
and contracted it to Dart.
"Being an owner-operator allowed me to go home whenever I needed
to be there," she said.
"Carol Ann overcame great adversity to reach this achievement,"
says Dart President Donald G. Oren. "It required tremendous determination
and strength of character, and I'm personally very proud of her."
Dart Transit is a 48-state carrier that offers many driving options
for professional truckdrivers. Besides the 48-state option chosen
by Schlussler, Dart offers dedicated contracts, regional opportunities
in the north and south, and local driving opportunities in several
Second place in the 2002 Independent Contractor of the Year contest
went to Dart Transit contractor Art Reid of Breckenridge, TX. Reid
is a 35-year veteran driver who has contracted with Dart Transit
for 10 years. As the second place winner, Reid receives $3,200 in
U.S. Savings Bonds and $3,000 in cash and merchandise.