OOIDA member named nation's outstanding independent contractor

| 3/28/2003

OOIDA 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 12 years.

"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 cities.

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.