The National Private Truck Council and Heavy Duty Trucking honored six private fleet executives and one allied member with the 2012 NPTC Leadership Awards during the association's annual convention in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Since 1990, the NPTC Leadership Awards have been one of the highlights of the council's annual conferences. These awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the National Private Truck Council and are some of the best performers in private fleet management.

HDT Editor-in-Chief Deborah Lockridge and NPTC President and CEO Gary Petty handed out the honors.

The Daniel P. Smith Life Achievement Award went to Ron Tartt, who has been with Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations for more than 38 years, holding various positions in distribution and transportation with both field and corporate experience.

In 1995, he moved to Bridgestone Firestone's corporate headquarters in Nashville, Tenn., where he is in his current assignment as the general manager of Bridgestone's Private Fleet. He is responsible for more than 300 tractors, more than 700 trailers and more than 400 drivers delivering tires and auto parts to some 6,000 customers on a weekly basis, from seven distribution centers across the US and Canada.

Tartt earned his CTP in 1997 and sponsored many people from his company to go through the program. He is a frequent grader and mentor for CTP candidates, a former Chair of the NPTC Board of Directors and the NPTC Institute Board of Governors. He is a frequent speaker at NPTC events and participated in NPTC Webcast.

Private Fleet Executive of the Year: Ralph Benson, president and CEO of Sentinel Transportation LLC since 2002.

Sentinel provides a wide range of dedicated truck transportation and related services for DuPont and ConocoPhillips.

Prior to his appointment to Sentinel, he spent 21 years with Conoco Inc. He was the NPTC Conference Planning Committee Chair for four years, secretary of the board for two years, Lead member of Steering Committee for Benchmarking Survey and a presenter at the annual conference and the Private Fleet Management Institute.

Fleet Safety Professional of the Year Award:Kathy Fellenstein, CTP. For the past eight years, she has been a Safety and Health professional specializing in trucking safety and compliance. She is a CTP graduate and active supporter of program. She is a Steering Committee member for Private Fleet Management Online, an active member of the Safety Committee and a presenter at the annual meeting and on NPTC webcasts on safety issues.

Fleet Member of the Year Award: Mike Lickert, CTP, corporate fleet manager for Giant Eagle, Talon Logistics.

Giant Eagle is a full-service grocery store chain serving the Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania market. In more than 31 years of transportation/supply chain experience with the company, he has held positions in all forms of distribution. He has been involved in installing warehouse management systems, onboard computers, trailer tracking, maintenance software, CNG and proof of delivery systems.

Licker earned his CTP designation in 2006 and sponsor of several CTP candidates at his company. He's an active member of the NPTC Board of Directors, NPTC Institute Board of Governors, and NPTC Safety Committee and a speaker at NPTC meetings.

Membership Development Award: George Carpenter, formerly of Army and Air Force Exchange who is now with TMW Systems as Senior Implementation Training Consultant. He served as the Director of Warehouse Management System Project for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

He was an active member of the NPTC Board of Directors and NPTC Institute Board of Governors, served as chair of NPTC Membership Committee, is a member of the Dallas chapter of the National Defense Transportation Association. He earned his CTP designation in 2006, is a frequent presenter at NPTC events, has recruited new members and a keynote speaker from his company and is a strong promoter on the value of NPTC membership.

Allied Member of the Year: Instructional Technologies. Instructional Technologies provides Pro-Tread interactive, computer-based, truck-driver training - delivering more than 80,000 lessons each month. In February 2012, ITI sold its 4 millionth lesson.

Pro-Tread's wide and growing range of some 85 lessons covers areas such as safety, defensive driving, regulations, hazmat, OSHA/workplace safety, tanker-specfic courses, and CNG/LNG safety. The company is a sponsor of new Private Fleet Management Online and a longtime exhibitor and sponsor of Annual Conference

The C.H. Robinson Backhaul Excellence Award: NTPC's newest award recognizes the fleet that has best taken advantage of the association's Fleet Optimization Center. The award went to Chuck Amen of Hillyard Inc.

Amen started working with Hillyard in 2001 as a driver and is currently the Hillyard Corporate Transportation Operations Manager.

Hillyard runs about 1,100 outbound loads per year, all but 71 of which are performed by its private fleet. The inbound side of the company's transportation is typically handled by the manufacturers of raw materials, but the private fleet is making inroads into the inbound traffic due to an innovatively aggressive backhaul program launched last year.

Prior to this new program, the private fleet operated at about 25% empty miles. Today it is as low as 5% to 6%. The company now saves enough money with its backhaul program to pay for the annual diesel fuel bill of its private fleet operation which now averages around $1.7 million.