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BY STEVE BRAWNER Contributing Writer

On May 9, 1966, Lavoy Grider began

working for Central Freight Lines. He still does. The 2014 TXTA Driver of the Year

has been employed by the same motor car- rier for more than 49 years. He started working there as a dock worker and pickup and delivery helper at age 18. In 1969, he began driving pickup and delivery out of Central’s Dallas terminal. He plans on retiring on his 50th anniversary with the company next May. Grider, who lives in Lewisville, has

been doing pickup and delivery most of his career, though from about 2005 until 2014 he was loaned out to the line-haul depart- ment to do mostly daylight runs to other Texas cities. He’d report at about 2 a.m., make his run, and return with another load. It was a long, 11–12-hour day, but he’d be back at home that afternoon. Grider, 67, has been accident-free for

43 years. In fact, his only accountable acci- dents occurred early in his career, when twice he struck overhead awnings while backing into customers’ locations, causing a total of $113 in damages. According to his nomination packet, he vowed after his sec- ond accident—which occurred May 5, 1972, that it would never happen again. Forty-five years of accident-free driv-

ing, 43 of these consecutive, is quite an accomplishment, especially considering many of his loads have been pickup and delivery trips on crowded Dallas-Fort Worth roads. He credits mentors and co-

Grider speaks after being announced the 2014 TXTA Driver of the Year as Newt Cunningham, TXTA president John Esparza and Griders’s wife Jeannette look on.

workers like former safety director Gary Don Thomas who helped him learn to be a safe driver. Those two started working for the company at about the same time. “It takes a lot of luck too, I’m think-

ing, but if you do things the way they teach you to do it and develop your habits, then you kind of change your odds,” he said. It’s unusual for drivers to remain 49

years at any carrier, but Grider said he’s not alone. Other Central Freight Lines drivers also have long tenures with the company. “They just have been a great company

to work for—good people, good employ- ees,” he said. “I know I’ve been very fortu- nate to have stayed there that long. My health has been good. There’s a lot of things that play in to that happening, and it’s all worked out well for me.” The admiration is mutual. In Grider’s

award nomination packet, Central Freight Lines President Don Orr wrote that Lavoy “is truly the epitome of the professional driver and hard working American. ... He is a humble, hardworking professional

driver, consistently performing his job in a way that has made Central Freight proud.” Born in Denison and raised in

Grapevine, Grider decided he wanted to be a truck driver at an early age, despite no one else in his family working in the industry. When he retires, he’ll have plenty to

keep him busy. He and his wife, Jeannette, helped build and were members of what is now the Bible Baptist Church of Lewisville. They have three children, seven grandchil- dren and a great-granddaughter. He likes to garden and has “some old antique cars that I tinker with.” As TXTA Driver of the Year—an

award sponsored by Roberts, Cunningham & Stripling—Grider was eligible for the American Trucking Associations’ National Driver of the Year award. He did not win but was told he placed in the top three. “I wasn’t disappointed at all,” he said.

“I was very proud to be the Texas Driver of the Year. I’ve enjoyed it. I like doing what I do, and I like the people that I work for and work around, so it’s been great.” R

Summer 2015 21

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