I grew up in the western United States, with easy access to the many highways that connected my small town with the wide-open world. As a kid, I looked up (literally) to the drivers of big rigs as I passed them on the road from the backseat of the family car. On longer trips, (usually to a National Park) I remember motioning to truck drivers to blow their air horns. Occasionally, an indulging driver would honk out a window-rattling response, asking only for a smile in return. Despite my joy, from my backseat view, it seemed most motorists were unaware of these amazing machines and their friendly drivers.

Now, as the president and CEO of a national, top-100 freight brokerage company, I have the honor of working with shippers and carriers every single day. It may have taken a global pandemic, but I’m happy to say that many more Americans now notice and appreciate the essential role that transportation professionals play in sustaining the American way of life. 

Early on in the crisis, as fear and panic spread about a possible lack of availability of basic goods, I knew that we would be okay. I knew that even a dangerous virus couldn’t keep the country’s toughest, hardest-working industry from fulfilling its essential role in the American economy. I have learned, from the time I was young, that these are proud and patriotic professionals full of determination and a sense of duty.  

As a country, we likely have a long road ahead of us. We will be dealing with this virus for many months to come. But transportation professionals are used to long roads. And thanks to them, I know that we’re strong enough to reach our destination together, perhaps even with a few smiles along the way. 

To all of our truck drivers and transportation professionals—on highways, in warehouses, and everywhere in between—I say thank you for your essential service! Please stay safe and keep on truckin’! 

Steve Van Otten

Freight Tec Management Group