Dean Key: America's Road Team Captain

Jan 22, 2022

Ruan is pleased to congratulate driver Dean Key for being selected by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) as a captain on the 2022-2023 America’s Road Team! Key, who operates out of Ruan’s Holstein, IA, operation, has been with the company for 26 years, has achieved an exceptional safety record, and has earned a solid reputation as a mentor to other drivers.

nullAmerica’s Road Team, a group of professional truck drivers with superior safety records, was created in 1986 to represent the trucking industry. Captains, with support from their companies, dedicate a few days each month to attend industry events, speak at schools, or meet policymakers on behalf of the trucking industry. They serve as trucking industry ambassadors, traveling the country to promote safe driving and teach about the industry and its opportunities. The new captains will tour the country in the ATA's Interstate One Image Truck, featuring a state-of-the-art truck driving simulator and mobile classroom.

Key said he is excited to promote the industry in an official capacity as part of the Road Team—but it’s something he’s done unofficially for his entire career.

“I never miss an opportunity to educate people who are not in the trucking industry. It might be as simple as just having a conversation with someone or letting someone get in my truck and gain a feel for it. If there is a kid watching me roll up somewhere and the opportunity presents itself, I let them get in the truck. Let them honk the horn! It puts a smile on their face, and they know that trucks and truck drivers are cool!” Key said. “It’s a way to begin educating them about how important big trucks and truckers are to our country and economy. Plus, that kid might someday want to become a truck driver, and it’s important that we work to attract a new generation of drivers, especially in the face of a national driver shortage.”

Earning a seat on the Road Team is just the latest in Key’s list of accolades. During his career, he has received awards for one and two million miles of safe driving, was part of Ruan’s 2017 Driver of the Year Winners’ Circle, and notably, was honored as the Iowa Motor Truck Association’s (IMTA) Master Truck Driver in 2021. He’s a regular competitor in the IMTA’s annual Truck Driving Championships and earned a spot at the national competition in 2018.

“Since I met Dean when he was recognized as part of our Driver of the Year Winners’ Circle, he certainly left an impression of professionalism, inspirational leadership, a can-do attitude, and commitment to safety,” said Ruan President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Van Alstine. “He is the consummate ambassador for Ruan’s Guiding Principles and values, and I know he will leave his mark on our industry serving in this important role as a Road Team captain.”

As a regional driver serving VT Industries, Key either drives to a delivery point up to 650 miles away from his operation or makes up to 14 deliveries within a city. While he does not have a typical route, he travels from the Canadian line to southern Missouri, and western Wyoming to eastern Ohio. Every day he completes thorough pre-trip and post-trip inspections, as well as numerous load checks along his route.

Key is also a Ruan Team Safety Instructor (TSI). A TSI is a respected driver at an operation who completes a two-day structured training course to be certified. TSIs spend a portion of their time hauling freight but also conduct various training modules at the location as needed and defined. As a TSI, Key completes new hire road tests, all varieties of training, and skills assessments. In his role as a driver and TSI, Key always puts safety first. 

A loving husband to his wife, Lori, and proud and present dad and grandfather, Key is heavily involved with his local church and enjoys woodworking and metal working. Key also specializes in firearm safety and marksmanship.

"These captains have dedicated their lives to spreading the message of safe driving. They are leaders in their communities, role models in their companies, and are dedicated to and passionate about the industry," said Elisabeth Barna, ATA Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs. "This new class represents everything we strive to promote about our industry and its professionals, especially as we face a driver shortage and challenges with the supply chain."

Check out the full list of 2022-2023 captains on the ATA’s website.