Ron “Big Dog” Sowder of the UPS global air hub in Louisville, Kentucky was honored this week for being the company’s safest and longest-tenured driver.
Ron began his UPS career 50 years ago as a package car driver. In 1976, he shifted to driving Class 7 semi tractors and has served as a UPS feeder driver ever since. Currently, Sowder transports packages five days a week, making a 306-mile round trip between the distribution center here and the UPS Worldport(R) global air hub in Louisville, Ky.
At UPS, “Sowder” means safety. More than 5,200 active UPS drivers have gone at least 25 years without an accident — but until yesterday, no driver in the company’s history had ever hit the 50-year mark.
“A lot’s changed in 50 years,” said Sowder. “When I started driving for UPS, folks in cars did a better job of keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Now it seems like anything goes — texting, putting on makeup. I’ve even seen folks reading books behind the wheel. The need for defensive driving, getting the big picture, leaving a space cushion, those are more important than ever.”A native of Springboro, Ohio, Sowder figures during the course of his career he’s driven more than 4 million miles; transported more than 35 million packages, and climbed into a UPS truck more than 12,000 times.
“Ron continues to set and reset the gold standard for our drivers,” said Myron Gray, UPS’s president of U.S. operations. “He is an asset to UPS, a great example for all our drivers and a leader within his peer group of Circle of Honor members. It’s operators like Ron who help ensure UPS is able to keep its promises to its customers.”
So truckers – has anyone been driving for nearly that long without incurring a safety infraction? It’s a tall order, but we know there are some semi truck drivers out there who might get close. Let us know!