By Al Muskewitz
WEDOWEE, Ala. – Stacy Langford has been driving for East Alabama trucking company LB3 before LB3 was even a trucking company. That is to say: he’s been driving for company owner Brian Lindley a long time.
Langford was the first employee Lindley ever hired when the business was simply hauling chicken litter away. As an old-school driver, he’s always been all about the job with not much interest (or time for) outside diversions.
With officials from the Alabama Trucking Association coming to the yard in early May to help celebrate the company’s recent Fleet Safety success, Lindley encouraged as many of his roughly 20 drivers to participate in its second annual Jeff Watson Truck Driving Championship. Wouldn’t you know it: Langford rose to the top and won the day.
The event is named in memory of Jeff Watson, the inaugural winner and longtime LB3 driver who passed away last August. Watson was another of those old-school drivers who had been reluctant to try the TDC, but he took a chance two years ago in the state competition, found he enjoyed the experience, and had become one of its biggest proponents.
LB3’s in-house championship took on the same requirements as the traditional State and National Truck Driving Championship, which for the second year in a row has been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns – the pre-trip inspection, written test and skills course, all under the watchful eye of Alabama Trucking Association vice president of safety and compliance Tim Frazier. (There will be a form of the national TDC this year, in which Alabama drivers will participate, just without the driver skills component).
“I’ve got a bunch of older drivers and they were kind of (reluctant), so I finally had to kind of get rough with them,” Lindley said. “I said I need y’all to get involved and to help these younger drivers and to show them some things. They did and it turned out really well.”
Langford scored 340 points and edged out last year’s in-house TDC runner-up Arvin Kelting and Jason Webber, the state Fleet Safety Driver of the Year runner-up, by eight points for top company honors. It was tight throughout with all three posting a perfect score on the final obstacle of the skills course, the serpentine turn.
Kelting posted the top overall score on the skills course. Langford, state Fleet Safety Driver of the Year Nathan Heflin and Kenneth Carter tied for the top scores on the written test. Langford, Webber, Timothy Holinshed and Ricky Lee had the top scores on pre-trip.
“Stacy was really humbled and gave a real good speech about all his years of driving,” Lindley said. “I think it meant a lot to him and his family.
“Stacy’s a real big family man. He’s got a bunch of grandkids now. I was super proud because that allowed him to be able to go home with a trophy for his kids and grandkids to see.”
All three placers would have represented LB3 had the in-person state championship been held. Now, Lindley will encourage his drivers to participate in the virtual TDC replacing it this year and start making plans for next year’s Jeff Watson company TDC.
“It’s gratifying in that we can continue doing what we’ve always done,” Lindley said. “I’ve got to do what’s best for us and our company regardless of what (nationally) they do or don’t do. I’m doing what’s best for us and I think moving forward and creating a culture of family, creating a culture of fellowship, here at LB3, that’s what’s important and that’s what this was about.”
LB3 is moving forward in other ways.
It recently started looking at adding teams to its lineup of drivers and began an outreach with local schools to educate driver's ed students on the safe way to share the road with the big rigs and introduce them to the trucking industry.
Al Muskewitz is Editor of Wright Media. He can be reached at email@example.com