PHOENIX, AZ… It takes a high level of motivation, passion and execution to make as big of an impact in the local community and around the country as Don Blake, Inland Kenworth – Phoenix new truck sales manager, continues to make.
Blake’s involvement with Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) – a non-profit organization devoted to stopping human trafficking by education, mobilizing, and empowering the nation’s truck drivers and rest stop employees – influenced one of Blake’s customers, Collin Stewart, Stewart Transport president, to join the cause in the fight to end human trafficking.
This year, Blake spearheaded the effort to put together the “Everyday Heroes” Kenworth T680 – through monetary and parts donations – to be sold at auction, with all proceeds going to TAT. In May, the Kenworth T680 was sold during a live auction at Richie Bros., in Phoenix to Stewart Transport. The winning bid netted a $162,000 donation to TAT, the largest single-donation ever made to the organization.
“I can’t say enough about Don and the person that he is,” said Stewart, “I’ve known Don for a number of years, and his involvement with TAT has been really inspiring. When word came out that a Kenworth T680 would be auctioned to help support TAT, I knew I wanted to place a bid on the truck. The T680 is a high-quality truck – we operate 55 of them – and they have worked great for us.”
The Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 is fully loaded with a 76-inch sleeper, and features the PACCAR Powertrain with a 485-hp PACCAR MX-13 engine, PACCAR 12-speed automated transmission, and PACCAR 40K tandem rear axles.
Stewart Transport, a Phoenix-based transportation company, designated the special Kenworth T680 to operate in its auto and aviation division.
Stewart assigned the truck to one of the company’s longest tenured drivers, Kelly Lindsey, recipient of the Arizona Trucking Association – 2017 Driver of the Year Award. According to Stewart, the auto and aviation division provides services in all 48 continental states, and he expects the Kenworth T680 to accumulate 125,000 miles in its first year of operation.
“Since our refrigerated and dry van division services the Southwest, it made sense to assign the truck to a division that would help increase TAT’s mission throughout the United States,” said Stewart. “And, we had a driver who was deserving of operating this truck already driving in this division.”
Stewart Transport began operating the special Kenworth T680 in June. The truck has received plenty of recognition on the road, and is especially noticed when making deliveries to the company’s customers.
“Our auto and aviation division is unique in the sense that our end customers come in direct contact with our drivers and see the trucks they drive,” said Stewart. “Many customers let us know that they appreciate what we are trying to do – raise awareness for human trafficking. It’s a terrible crime, and our hope is that by raising awareness, we can encourage someone who may see suspicious activity, pick up the phone and call the human trafficking hotline (1-888-373-7888).”
For Stewart, the working relationship with Blake at Inland Kenworth – Phoenix has grown into a friendship over the years. While Stewart wanted to support Blake’s efforts in his Everyday Heroes truck auction, he still needed to make a smart business decision.
“The circumstances were perfect for me to help support Don and add a truck that I knew would be a great addition to my fleet,” said Stewart. “The TAT T680 truck is similarly spec’d to the other T680s in my fleet and they have been so reliable for me over the years. As our company continues to grow, it made sense for us to place the winning bid on the special T680 that would help support a great cause.”
Stewart Transport’s other Kenworth T680s that it operates are a mix between day cabs and 76-inch sleepers, all purchased through Inland Kenworth – Phoenix. According to Stewart, the Kenworth T680s reliability and the positive driver feedback the company receives has played a major role in the company’s decision to keep adding T680s to its fleet.
“We started purchasing Kenworth T680s in 2012 when they first hit the market,” said Stewart. “The T680 is truly one of the best trucks ever produced – the drivability, visibility, fuel economy, and performance is top notch,” said Stewart. “It’s a great driving truck, and our drivers take notice of that. I believe we’ve been able to keep our driver turnover low by providing our drivers with equipment they want to drive.”
The addition of the Everyday Heroes truck is just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for Stewart Transport, a long-time TAT supporter. The company’s trucks all feature TAT stickers with information on how to report human trafficking. In 2016, Stewart Transport added TAT driver training into its new-hire onboarding process. Every Stewart Transport driver is currently TAT trained and prepared to report any suspicious human trafficking activity they may encounter on the road.
“Don really opened my eyes to how big of a problem human trafficking is in this country,” said Stewart. “With our drivers always on the road, it made sense to train our drivers with the skills that could save someone’s life. I appreciate Don’s efforts in combatting this crime and I’m proud to help support the movement to bring an end to human trafficking.”
Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) is a 501(c)3 working to educate, equip, empower and mobilize the trucking industry to combat human trafficking as part of their regular jobs. More information is available at TAT’s website (www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org).
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Collin Stewart, Stewart Transport president (left) and Kelly Lindsey, Everyday Heroes Kenworth T680 driver