KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Co. surprised long-time driver Daniel Abshire with the "rig of a lifetime" that celebrated his 40-plus years of service.
The company honored Abshire, who followed in his father's footsteps as a Pilot driver, during a July 7 luncheon at Pilot's sales and support center headquarters in Knoxville.
At the event, Pilot and Peterbilt Motors Co. presented Abshire with a custom Peterbilt truck that is reminiscent of the rig driven by his father Jim during his time with the company.
Jim Abshire was the second driver ever hired by Pilot in 1971. He became the company's first lead driver and drove for 42 years. Daniel Abshire joined Pilot in 1980 at age 21 and assumed the role of lead driver when his father retired from the position in 2013.
"The Abshire family and Pilot transportation are synonymous," said Jim Haslam, founder and chairman emeritus of Pilot Co. "Daniel is the best. And that's because he learned from the best — his father, Jim. This job requires patience, endurance and a deep regard for everyone on the road. We are very proud of these two long and legendary careers and it's an honor to recognize Daniel for his 40 years at Pilot with this specially designed Peterbilt truck."
Daniel Abshire currently oversees the trucks and drivers based in Staunton and Roanoke, Va. Achievements from his career include:
- Driving 2.5 million miles, the equivalent of five trips to the moon and back, or 1,650 trips from Knoxville to New York and back;
- Amassing 9,800 safety days in the cab of his truck, the equivalent of more than 26 years of safe driving; and
- Delivering more than 200 million gallons of fuel, the equivalent of 300 Olympic swimming pools.
"I'm still in shock. I wasn't expecting to be recognized, let alone get a new truck to drive that also celebrates my dad's time with Pilot. I remember him driving a Peterbilt like this one, and this is my dream truck," said Daniel Abshire. "We've always been part of the Pilot family, and the team here, especially the other drivers, always have been part of the Abshire family. That's not lip service; it's how we operate. This just illustrates how true it is. We are family."
Both Jim and Daniel Abshire are fans of Peterbilt trucks. Inspired by a 1970s photo of Jim with his Pilot truck, Peterbilt designed the custom truck that Daniel will drive as a throwback to the 389 model with updated red and yellow Pilot Flying J graphics.
"Everyone at Peterbilt would like to congratulate Daniel Abshire and the whole Abshire family for the millions of miles they have spent on the road delivering fuel for the Pilot Company. To be a part of this celebration is a privilege and we look forward to seeing Daniel on the road behind the wheel of his Peterbilt Model 389 outfitted with a throwback design honoring the legacy of his father," said Jason Skoog Peterbilt, general manager and PACCAR Inc. vice president.
Today, Pilot Co. employs more than 1,200 drivers as the third-largest tanker fleet in North America.
Knoxville-based Pilot Co. operates more than 750 locations in 44 states and five Canadian provinces with more than 680 restaurants, 74,000 truck parking spaces, 5,300 deluxe showers, 6,200 diesel lanes and offers truck maintenance and tire service through Southern Tire Mart at Pilot Flying J. The One9 Fuel Network connects a variety of fuel stops to provide value, convenience and perks to fleets and professional drivers at more than 240 locations across the United States.