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Shaw, Georgia Northwestern Trucker Among Nation’s Elite

Mendez Places Nationally In Competition For America’s Best Commercial Trucker

 

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“Dalton, Georgia’s Antonio Mendez sits in his tractor cab on the driving range at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Walker County Campus. Commercial Truck Driving Director Robert Browder stands outside the rig.”

 

(Northwest Georgia) – Hard at work since the age of 17, Dalton, Georgia’s Antonio Mendez has been leading by example. And now, after 20 years of what his boss calls, “consistency,” Mendez made 2016 a year he would showcase his talents on the national stage. This long-time Shaw Industries staffer, and graduate of Georgia Northwestern Technical College, became one of the top commercial truck drivers in the nation after competing in the 2016 National Truck Driving Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana.

 

In May, at the state competition held in Lake Lanier, Georgia, Mendez became the first State of Georgia Truck Driving Champion from Shaw Industries, as well as Georgia Northwestern. Mendez bested 40 drivers in the Commercial Truck Driving Five-Axle competition to earn the spot in the national competition in Indiana last month.

 

Shaw Industries Driver Training Lead, George Gazaway, said he knew he was good enough to go far in the competition. “Antonio competed for the first time last year and really walked away learning a lot,” said Gazaway. “Just one year later, not only did he set the bar for our drivers with his performance nationally, he really made us proud.”

 

In his second crack at showing off his skills in the Commercial Truck Driving industry, Mendez not only took home top honors in the state, be he would finish 29th in the nation after completing the four-day long competition in the Hoosier state last month. “There were six different road tests, a pre-trip test, and written tests they put everyone through,” said Mendez. “I felt really prepared and ready for the competition. It went pretty well, I think.”

 

After spending the first 10 years of his employment with Shaw Industries as a forklift operator, Mendez made a decision in 2008. He wanted to learn more and move into a new career with the flooring giant. “My uncle suggested that I should try to get outdoors and look into becoming a truck driver,” said Mendez of his uncle, Joel Quintero. “So, I made the decision to take the Commercial Truck Driving program at Georgia Northwestern. My instructor (Robert Browder) was very easy to learn from. He helped me learn everything I needed to in order to be successful.”

 

Mendez would complete his program with Browder and Georgia Northwestern by attending a weekend program the college offered. He would then earn his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) later in 2008. Mendez would first spend a little over a year after earning his CDL transporting trailers from one bay to another at his plant. “I was a yard dog, at first,” cheerfully added Mendez. “Then, I got a third shift slot as a local driver with Shaw. And, now, I’m on first shift. Two daily runs to Chattanooga and back. It’s a great job that I’m proud of.”

 

His success has led to more success for others in his family. “I got my cousin to attend after I completed my program,” said Mendez. “He finished the program, too. He then came back and enrolled in the Air Conditioning Technology (HVAC) program. My brother then enrolled and did the same program, too. It has really worked out pretty well for all of us.”

 

It will officially be 20 years of Shaw Industries employment for Mendez in June 2017. He and his wife, Yolanda, have been married for 14 years. As of today, none of their children, Celina, 12, Antonio, Jr., 10, Angel, 6, nor Samuel, 4, wish to be a truck driver in the future. “They like those hot wheel trucks, though,” said Mendez. “But, they aren’t thinking about a job on the road anytime soon.”

 

Making a change in his career after a decade of experience was tough says Mendez. “Just thankful for my wife, mom, and brothers for supporting me in this,” added the 35-year-old North Georgian. “Family at work also made it possible, though. If it wasn’t for my boss, George Gazaway, Danny Trammell, and Misty Hayes, not sure how it all would’ve turned out.”

 

You can contact the college’s toll-free number at 866.983.4682 (GNTC). For information online, visit them at GNTC.edu, as well as on their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

 

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

 

Senior Sets Sights On Open Road From Cab Of 18-Wheeler

73-Year-Old Trains With Georgia Northwestern For Commercial Truck Driving Career

 

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“If things go her way, 73-year-old Veronica Longwith from Summerville, Georgia will be working on the open road by the second week of May. Georgia Northwestern Technical College Commercial Truck Driving Director, Robert Browder, stands alongside one of the tractor-trailers Longwith used to train for the road.”

(Northwest Georgia) – With two children, four grandchildren, and one great-grandchild, 73-year-old Veronica Longwith has made the decision to take to the open road as she pursues a commercial truck driving career at Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC).

 

Currently from Summerville, Georgia, Longwith is originally from a military family and doesn’t really claim a hometown. However, the soon-to-be long-haul trucker was born in Brooklyn, New York on March 20, 1943. Her parents, Edna Mae and Jack London Moore, are long-deceased, as is her only brother, Gerard.

 

“He’s the reason I left the trucking world the first time,” said Longwith. That’s right, the silver-haired trucker has already worked on the open road from 1987-92 with Reeves Transportation in Calhoun, Georgia and DonCo Trucking out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. “My first time around, I found a local company out of Chattanooga that offered training for truck drivers. With me raising a young daughter at the time, I found it easiest to take their weekend classes all day Saturday and Sunday for three months.”

 

On the last day of class, Longwith got her license and was ready to begin orientation with Reeves. “After finishing all of my training in Chattanooga, Tennessee, my first job with Reeves had me hauling carpet and flooring out of Dalton, Georgia to terminals all across the United States,” said Longwith. “I did that job for about five years and loved every minute of it.”

 

But, it was family that saw Longwith take her hiatus from a career she enjoyed and concentrate her efforts on caring for her only brother. “Gerard got very sick and I needed to stay closer to home and take care of him when he really needed some help,” added Longwith. “It was a phone call out of the blue back in 1992. He told me about how bad his health had become and that the problems he was now facing would probably be fatal. I needed to be home.”

 

After his passing, Longwith owned and operated a couple of businesses which performed well. Then, she made the decision to return to commercial truck driving; 24 years after her first stint as a big rig driver. Married once before, this now single senior had nothing but time and the open road ahead of her. So, this past winter, she enrolled into GNTC’s ten-week Commercial Truck Driving program in Walker County, Georgia.

 

When asked what her family thought of this decision to be a commercial truck driver one more time, it was her son who was first to find out. “I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it,” said Longwith as she smiled. “He happened to see me on the highway one morning and saw me pull into the main entrance for GNTC. That’s when I realized that I’d need to tell him. He wasn’t happy about my decision. But, I’m really happy about it.” Her son, Patrick Clark, 52, works for Northwest Georgia Power out of Summerville, Georgia. Also, her daughter, Jennifer Clark, is a 44-year-old cosmetologist from Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

Longwith first broke into the industry at the age of 44-years-young. “The father of a girlfriend of mine first told me about the trucking industry back in the mid-1980’s and it sounded very exciting,” said Longwith. “And now, nearly 30 years later, I’m coming back to trucking.”

 

With many of the students in GNTC’s Commercial Truck Driving industry being nearly 50 years younger than Longwith, she has had a lot of wisdom for the newcomers. “I’ve tried to tell them throughout the program that you really have to have a passion for this or you won’t last long in it at all,” said Longwith. “Like a lot of advice, I’m not sure if the younger people listen. I know I didn’t at that age. But, they’ve been good classmates and we’ve learned a lot from each other.”

 

Longwith has already been pre-hired with Dart Transit Company. Provided she passes her testing, she would take part in the company’s next orientation program beginning May 9. From there, she would go to Indiana for on-the-road training with the company as soon as the very next week.

 

For more information on Commercial Truck Driving at Georgia Northwestern, contact them at 706.764.3698. Or, you can contact the main line at GNTC at 866.983.4682 (GNTC). For information online, visit them at GNTC.edu, as well as on their Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

 

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has provided degrees, diplomas, and certificates in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

Hitting The Highway After Roughing The Roads Of Life

LaFayette’s Gamble Turns GED Into Career

"Lamar Gamble of Lafayette is a graduate of the Youth Success Academy's GED® program and Georgia Northwestern Technical College."
“Lamar Gamble of Lafayette is a graduate of the Youth Success Academy’s GED® program and Georgia Northwestern Technical College.”

                                                                      

(Walker County, Georgia) – Four years after he saw his high school career end as a freshman, LaFayette’s Lamar Gamble has turned his rocky road into a new highway towards a career. Just six months after enrolling in Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Youth Success Academy (Y.S.A.), Gamble has earned his GED®, his Commercial Truck Driving certification, and a brand new career with U.S. Xpress. The entire six-month process from GED® to college certificate to a career was completely paid for by the Y.S.A.

“I would stay up all night doing homework that I didn’t have to do,” said Gamble. “I did it because I knew, in the long run, that putting forth that extra effort would get me closer to my goals.”

Gamble, who left his Northwest Georgia high school in 2011, returned to complete his education, as well as further it, in April of this year. He would then complete his GED® testing just one month later, all paid for by the Youth Success Academy. Then, thanks in part to the Academy’s Individual Training Account (I.T.A.) program, Gamble enrolled in the college’s Commercial Truck Driving program with his tuition, costs, books, and supplies completely paid for.

“We look at the situation of each student and see how we can make resources available to help them be successful,” said Georgia Northwestern Technical College Youth Success Academy Specialist Tammy Pence. “Being there to help them overcome any struggles so they can set and reach goals is what we hope to accomplish.”

 

The Youth Success Academy site at GNTC’s Walker County Campus first opened 10 years ago. Funding for the program is made possible by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission (NWGRC) in Rome, Georgia.

For more information on the Youth Success Academy, GED® testing, or enrolling at GNTC, you can call 706.764.3783. You can also visit GNTC.edu on the Internet. Also, Georgia Northwestern can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and an equal opportunity institute.

Since 1962, Georgia Northwestern Technical College has been instrumental in providing quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. The mission of Georgia Northwestern Technical College is to provide accessible, high quality technical education and workforce development opportunities.  Serving the nine counties of Catoosa; Chattooga; Dade; Floyd; Gordon; Murray; Polk; Walker; and Whitfield, GNTC has five convenient campus locations in Floyd, Gordon, Polk, Walker, and Whitfield counties. With programs of study in business, health, industrial, and public service available, students have the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree, diploma, or a certificate from GNTC.  This past year, 14,562 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 8,249 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia and the fifth largest technical college in the state of Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 6,313 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.

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