Quit While You’re Ahead

                                              UPS Driver Achieves 50 Years of Safe Driving

A young Navy vet who joined UPS in 1960 has just become the first driver in the company’s history to pass the 50-year mark for safe driving as a member of UPS’s “Circle of Honor.” 

Ron “Big Dog” Sowder (the nickname comes from being the company’s longest-tenured safe driver) began his UPS career 50 years ago as a package car driver, delivering to businesses and private residences. In 1976, he shifted to driving tractor-trailers on the open road and has served as a UPS feeder driver ever since. Currently, Sowder transports packages five days a week, making a 306-mile round trip between the distribution center here and the UPS Worldport┬« global air hub in Louisville, Ky.
Whether driving package cars or tractor trailers, the one constant with Sowder has been safety. More than 5,200 active UPS drivers currently are members of the “Circle of Honor” – meaning they’ve gone at least 25 years without an accident – but until yesterday, no driver in the company’s history had ever hit the 50-year mark.

A native of Springboro, Ohio, Sowder figures during the course of his career he’s driven more than 4 million miles; transported more than 35 million packages, and climbed into a UPS truck more than 12,000 times.

“Ron continues to set and reset the gold standard for our drivers,” said Myron Gray, UPS’s president of U.S. operations. “He is an asset to UPS, a great example for all our drivers and a leader within his peer group of Circle of Honor members. It’s operators like Ron who help ensure UPS is able to keep its promises to its customers.”

“A lot’s changed in 50 years,” said Sowder. “When I started driving for UPS, folks in cars did a better job of keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road. Now it seems like anything goes – texting, putting on makeup. I’ve even seen folks reading books behind the wheel. The need for defensive driving, getting the big picture, leaving a space cushion, those are more important than ever.”

To help UPS drivers one day match or exceed Sowder’s historic mark, all drivers are taught safe driving methods beginning on the first day of classroom training, including the company’s comprehensive safety course, “Space and Visibility.” The training continues throughout their careers.