Schneider National Receives Freightliner’s 10th Edition Ride of Pride Truck
Green Bay, WI… Schneider National has been a proud supporter of the United States military since the company’s founding in 1935. Last month, the company added another tangible expression of that pride to its fleet when Freightliner Trucks presented its 10th edition Ride of Pride truck to Schneider. The new military-themed tractor joins the 2007, 2008 and 2011 Ride of Pride tractors, plus the only Canadian Ride of Pride ever produced. This makes Schneider the only company with five of the specially decorated vehicles, which feature decals representing members of the military, their families and their sacrifices.
“These trucks and drivers represent those that have served and sacrificed for our freedoms,” notes Mike Hinz, vice president at Schneider. “We are honored to add our fifth Ride of Pride truck to the fleet and proudly represent America’s heroes.”
Freightliner’s Ride of Pride tradition began over 10 years ago when Ed Keeter, Freightliner shift manager and Vietnam War veteran, proposed the project as a way to honor current and prior members of the U.S. military. Originally, Keeter and colleagues planned to simply decorate a truck to take to the local Veteran’s hospital near Freightliner’s truck manufacturing plant in Cleveland, N.C. Freightliner employees embraced the idea so wholeheartedly that it quickly became part of a national effort that includes participating in the annual Ride for Freedom, a procession through Washington, D.C., each Memorial Day. Freightliner also decided to award each year’s Ride of Pride truck to a different trucking company and decorated the cab for the chosen fleet with military-related decals.
“Freightliner Trucks has a long partnership with Schneider, and we have welcomed the opportunity over the past 10 years to together celebrate and pay homage to the men and women of our armed forces,” said Mark Lampert, senior vice president, sales and marketing for Daimler Trucks North America. “Veterans hold a special place within both organizations, and we’re proud of the drive and spirit behind the Ride of Pride program.”
When Freightliner awarded the sixth truck in the series to Schneider National in 2007, the company first intended to use it to haul freight. However, it was soon clear from the impact it was making upon drivers, associates and the motoring public that the truck was meant for a different purpose.
“We started offering the truck to various military-related events and activities across the country and selected a driver from our ranks who possessed a military background to serve as its captain,” recalls Hinz. “The response the truck and driver got at these events was phenomenal, so when we received the 2008 and 2011 trucks, we knew we had to reserve the newest tractor solely for meaningful ceremonial duties and appearances.”
The Schneider driver recently selected as the 2012 Ride of Pride driver is Russ O’Dell of Clarksville, Tenn. O’Dell retired from the Army in 1999 after spending many years living in countless places across the country and globe as a scout and drill sergeant. In 2007 he joined Schneider as an over-the-road driver. When the Army asked him to return to serve as a recruiter, O’Dell took a leave of absence to assist before returning in 2010.
“I’ve only been with the Ride of Pride a few weeks, but it’s already clear to me that the best thing about driving it is the opportunity I get to meet so many current and past military members,” says O’Dell. “The response they have when they see the truck is truly awesome, and that special connection makes me feel so honored and privileged to be in this role.”
Because of high demand for the Ride of Pride’s presence at events this summer, the 2011 truck will continue to make public appearances until September. Driver Greg Roberts of Eastpointe, Mich., sits at the helm of that vehicle. Roberts, like O’Dell, retired from the Army after 20 years of service. He joined Schneider in 2004 and drove on a Dedicated account until his selection as the 2011 Ride of Pride driver.
“It’s hard to explain how much it means to me to be the 2011 Ride of Pride driver,” says Roberts, who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and was rapidly deployed to Afghanistan in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. “I’m just so proud to be in this position. There’s not a day that goes by that someone doesn’t follow me into a truck stop or ask to take a picture with it. I ask myself, ‘Is it really going to be this great every day?’ And I know the answer is ‘Yes.’”
Through the years, Schneider National has developed a number of programs specifically for current and former military personnel, including its Military Apprenticeship Program. This program provides a smart way for military members to use their Veterans Administration (VA) benefits. Through the program, military members are eligible to earn up to $1,069 per month in VA education benefits in their first year, in addition to their Schneider pay checks.
Schneider has consistently been recognized as a national leader in supporting current and former members of the military and has received numerous national, state and armed service awards. This year alone, Schneider National was named to G.I. Jobs magazine’s annual list of Top Military-Friendly Employers for the sixth consecutive year. It was also named to Civilianjobs.com’s annual Most Valuable Employers for Military list for the second consecutive year. Just last month, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented the inaugural Extraordinary Employer Support Award to Schneider National.
To learn more about Schneider’s career opportunities for current and former military members, please visit http://www.schneiderjobs.com/CompanyDrivers/Military.