When TravelCenters of America announced its 2016 Citizen Drivers of The Year, three Landstar BCOs received the life-changing news that they would be honored among eight total professional drivers. The Citizen Drivers honor recognizes drivers who earn public respect for the industry through their good citizenship, safety, community involvement, and leadership.
Among the three is Landstar BCO Bill Ater, who not only matches the criteria for becoming a Citizen Driver, he is the very definition of an outstanding Landstar BCO, professional driver and model citizen.
Landstar BCO Bill Ater Jr. says he got his start in the trucking industry when he was just a boy, going on runs with his father who hauled mail from several small post offices. Ater, like many legacies in the trucking industry, says he learned everything about trucking from his dad, who was a fleet owner and still hauled the occasional load at the age of 85.
Ater says his father passed away in 2012, but he takes his father’s lessons with him everywhere he goes by being professional, positive and supportive.
“I can’t just sit,” explains Ater. “If there is something I can do to help other people, I want to do it. That’s what I love most about being an owner-operator, just helping people.”
Ater first realized how much he could make a difference in people’s lives in 1991, when he traveled to Oklahoma with his church to help in disaster relief after a series of tornadoes devastated parts of the state.
“When I took that trip, I realized how much what we do in this industry could help people,” says Ater.
Since then, Ater has made a point to get involved in as many disaster response hauls as he can.
“I get out and help unload or hand out water to the community. I want to go above and beyond to help the people who need it most. I don’t want to just sit in my truck and watch others do the work,” says Ater.
He couldn’t be more thankful for being selected as one of TravelCenters of America’s 2016 Citizen Drivers, he says, adding that he hopes, with this honor, he can play an even bigger part in creating a positive image of the trucking industry.
“The opportunity to send a good image of truck drivers is really important, and it’s been a really neat deal to have been nominated and honored. People now can find out what we do and how we do it safely,” says Ater.
As part of the Citizen Driver honor, Ater, his wife Kathi, their family and friends gathered in June for a truck stop dedication that, he says, he will cherish and remember for the rest of his life – the naming of the Petro Carl’s Corner in Hillsboro, Texas to the “Bill Ater Jr. Stopping Center.”
Ater was named a Landstar Million Mile Safe Driver and Roadstar winner during Landstar's 2016 All-Star Celebration in Orlando, Florida.
Click here to download a PDF version of this story from The Road to Success® magazine.
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