A veteran of the United States Army, husband and father to four sons, Basenberg started in trucking 20 years ago. His passion for trucking is second only to his family and community. "My father is the type of person who puts everyone else's needs in front of his own," Billy's son, Jason Basenberg, wrote in his Back on the Road nomination.
During the past several years, family injuries and illnesses have taken Basenberg off the road to care for loved ones when they needed him most. His wife, Tammie, was in a serious car accident that left her with a debilitating back injury, forcing her to go on disability. As Basenberg helped navigate Tammie and their four sons through her eight surgeries and therapy to help her learn to walk again, Basenberg's driving loads grew lighter as their financial burdens grew deeper.
"We've been married for 31 years and Billy has never taken a vacation - he has always worked hard to take care of me and our sons," Tammie said in her nomination. "He is a really good man - and will always be the first to help." Despite the challenges the Basenberg's faced, they managed to care for a neighbor's home after she lost her husband of 60 years, and they welcomed an acquaintance's son into their family for close to 10 years after his mother feared she couldn't provide for him.
Years later, Basenberg's oldest brother, with whom he was very close, fell ill and needed special care. Committed to honoring the brother who cared for him growing up, Basenberg helped his brother live with dignity and care until he passed away - even if it resulted in less time on the road - and, ultimately, losing his truck.
Through all of this, it was Basenberg who served as inspiration for two of his sons who were deployed to Iraq. While deployed, Jason survived a roadside bombing and came back home on medical leave. "When I returned with injuries from Iraq, my father gave me the motivation and courage to get through that difficult time," Jason said. "Everyone is better for meeting my dad - he is the hardest working, self-sacrificing person I have ever known."
Steve Clough, president of Arrow Truck Sales, and the selection committee were deeply moved by Basenberg's strength. "Billy's compassion and resilience through the obstacles he's faced in life are not only inspiring, but also contagious," Clough said. "After everything Billy has done for other people - family and strangers alike - we are proud to give him this chance to represent Back on the Road, gain back his family's livelihood as an owner-operator and enjoy this opportunity he very much deserves."
As the 2012 winner of Back on the Road, Basenberg receives a one-year lease on a 2008 Mack Pinnacle High-Rise Sleeper plus a one-year work agreement with Heartland Express and other products and services, including:
- SmartWay-verified Tires, the Michelin XZA3+ and the X One XDA Energy Tires - Michelin
- TriPac auxiliary power unit - Thermo King
- Monthly $500 fuel cards - Pilot Flying J Travel Centers
- Business consulting tools - ATBS
- Insurance - Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA)
- A three-year / 300,000-mile warranty - National Truck Protection, Inc.
- One year's worth of filter products - Mack Genuine Parts
- One year's worth of oil changes with Mobil Delvac 1300 Super - Mobil Delvac
- Truck accessories, fenders and $5,000 cash award - Minimizer Products
- Memory foam mattress - SleepDog Mattress
- IntelliRoute TND 710 GPS device - Rand McNally
- Cubby Buddy Toolbox System - 16 Ton Industries
- Health assessment and check-ups, plus one-year free membership to Snap Fitness/Rolling Strong gyms - Rolling Strong
- Custom truck graphics - Image Works
Both Basenberg's wife, Tammie, and son, Jason, were in the audience when his name was announced as the winner.
Arrow Truck Sales and industry sponsors selected the winner for Arrow's Fifth anniversary of the Back on the Road program, presented by Mack Trucks Inc.