Ruan Proudly Celebrates Driver and Operation of the Year Winners' Circles

Sep 26, 2022

At Ruan, our people are critical to our success, and we take great pride in recognizing them for their efforts. Every day, our team members perform at the highest levels, exceeding expectations of both internal and external customers. As part of our Driver and Operation of the Year events held in Des Moines, IA, September 20-22, we had the opportunity to honor our top drivers and operations, as well as name the 2021 Driver of the Year and 2021 Operation of the Year.

Driver of the Year

Clay Northway, who operates out of T226 in Otsego, MN, was named Ruan’s 2021 Driver of the Year. He has been with Ruan since 2005 and has driven professionally for 32 years, logging more than 4 million miles. He serves our valued customer, Bobcat, and hauls products across the United States. Clay goes the extra mile to help his teammates and leaders whenever he can, does everything with a safety focus, displays a tremendous work ethic, and provides exceptional customer service.

Bobcat’s Logistics Manager said this about Clay in a recommendation letter: “Clay is a meticulous planner and works hard at understanding his customers’ needs so he can provide the best possible service to them. Clay’s typical week begins by picking up a load of four to five Bobcat machines. These loads need to be secured with heavy straps, chains, and binders to keep them stationary during their transit to multiple customers on a route that averages 1,500 miles across several state lines. Delivering these machines on schedule to customers both large and small is no easy task, but Clay’s positive attitude, elite driving skills, and attention to detail make it seem so.”

The search for Ruan’s 2021 Driver of the Year began in April when 155 truck drivers from Ruan’s 300 operations were named finalists based on their safety performance, industry experience, customer service, and more. Following an extensive review process, just 11 of the finalists were named to our 2021 Winners’ Circle, and they each visited our headquarters city to be celebrated. During their time in Des Moines, the honorees toured the Ruan Center, shared insights on safety, technology, retention, recruiting, and equipment, networked with leaders and support teams, and—of course—were celebrated every step of the way.

Clay was named the Driver of the Year at an award ceremony at the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates. “Each of you represent the very best of the best at Ruan and in the industry. One upside of the challenges our country endured during the pandemic is that more people came to understand and appreciate the essential jobs you perform,” CEO Ben McLean told the Winners’ Circle at the ceremony.

“You advance our nation’s supply chains every day, providing consumers and businesses the products we need to survive and thrive, and you do so while modeling the very best in professionalism, dedication, safety, and teamwork.”

Each Winners’ Circle honoree was awarded a trophy and cash prize. Clay was presented a trophy, $5,000, and the 2021 Driver of the Year title.

Operation of the Year

Ruan’s Managed Transportation team, led by Managed Transportation Business Manager Justin Eloe, that serves Azteca Milling and Mission Foods was named the 2021 Operation of the Year. Ruan manages a large annual freight spend for these customers and provides logistics coverage on all common carrier shipments as well as dedicated support.

Mission Foods’ Director of Transportation said the following in a recommendation letter for the operation: “Ruan has been crucial in the 3PL outbound freight execution for Mission Foods, especially during the last two years and all the challenges that COVID-19 presented. I can say Justin and his team made sure to go above and beyond to service our customers to the best of their ability. I believe that the continuous improvement process and deep knowledge on our freight needs are the main drivers for such success.”

Our Operation of the Year Winners’ Circle was selected based on how they demonstrate our Guiding Principles of People First, Safety Focus, Exceptional Performance, Customer Satisfaction, and Continuous Improvement. To get started, each Ruan vice president of operations selected finalists as the top performers in their business units, and from the 11 finalists, our executive leadership team narrowed the list to three Winners’ Circle honorees. The operation led by Justin was named the Operation of the Year from the Winners’ Circle. The managers of the three operations were celebrated alongside our driving team members at Driver and Operation of the Year events September 20-22.

The 2021 Operation of the Year received a trophy and a celebration for all operation team members, which will take place later this year.

Interested in joining a company that prioritizes recognition and engagement? Check out the best transportation and logistics jobs in the industry! 

2021 Driver of the Year Winners' Circle