Trucker Buddy program nets an ally in PNV Inc.

Trucker Buddy International (TBI) took a step forward in the development of their organization at the Mid-America Trucking Show with the announcement of a new ally.

At the March 24 meeting in Louisville, KY, the board of directors approved an alliance with PNV, a leading provider of telecommunications services to professional drivers.

"Since 1992, Trucker Buddy has played an important role in teaching school children not only about the lives of professional truckdrivers, but about key fundamentals such as reading, writing and geography," says Robert P. May, chief executive officer of PNV. "(We are) proud to support this important educational program that is helping our kids learn about myriad subjects including the trucking industry. We are hopeful that this program will develop and encourage future trucking industry participants."

The board of directors (composed of drivers, a teacher and members representing various segments of the industry) agreed to partner with PNV to assist in the management of Trucker Buddy. While the organization will operate as an autonomous not-for profit corporation, PNV will assist in promoting and marketing TBI in order to increase participation and sponsorship.

Working with PNV and the directors will be the newly-appointed executive director, Ellen Voie (formerly the group's secretary/treasurer). A nationally recognized journalist in the trucking industry, Voie combines her interest in family issues concerning professional drivers with her background in communication to bring a unique perspective to the position. She was active with TBI for the past three years as a board member, working with her predecessor Gary King and his family to manage the organization.

Voie says she plans to move the operations to her home state of Wisconsin, where TBI currently retains its corporate residency.

"The addition of PNV to Trucker Buddy's operations will allow us to expand the positive impact this program brings to the industry by adding more drivers who will assist us in reaching more children and introducing them to the world of trucking," she says.

Each week, Trucker Buddy drivers send their classes cards, letters or e-mails, telling of their travels, teaching them geography and math while improving their writing skills. Students correspond with drivers by asking questions, telling jokes and creating hand-drawn pictures as they develop a relationship with a professional who widens their visions of both the country and the transportation industry.

Founder and former chairman, Gary King, has retired from Trucker Buddy. He says he will no longer be involved in the operations. King started the pen pal program in 1993 as a driver for Dart. He helped introduce almost 5,000 classrooms and numerous students to the world of trucking.

In other action, the board approved Mike Holohan, CEO of North American Truck Stop Network (NATSN) as a director. Darrell Hicks of Penray Companies was named the chairman of the board, while Ken Chaney, a professional driver for Crete Carriers was appointed vice chairman. Mary "Mel" Fox will be the secretary/treasurer, filling the position formerly held by Voie.

The board members were also apprised on the development of guidelines for classroom visits. A committee (headed by teacher, Mary "Mel" Fox) is in the process of drafting the new guidelines. Trucker Buddy's next meeting will be held at the International Trucking Show in Las Vegas in June. For more information about the program, visit Trucker Buddy's web site at or call 1-800-MY BUDDY. The new mailing address will be P O Box 527, Waupaca, WI 54981.