CFI officials hand out keys to new trucks for company milestones – Joplin Globe

Mainly clear skies. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph..
Mainly clear skies. Low 56F. Winds S at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: September 23, 2021 @ 9:34 pm
Joplin, MO
Greg Orr (left), president of CFI, gives the keys to CFI’s 15,000th truck, a next-generation Kenworth T680, to Mary and Ricky Norman on Thursday at CFI. The couple combined have rolled up 5.2 million miles for CFI, which is marking its 70th anniversary. GLOBE  | ROGER NOMER
Albert Arriola Jr. talks about driving the CFI 70th anniversary W990 truck on Thursday at CFI. Globe | Roger Nomer
Les North talks about the True to the Troops truck he will drive for CFI Temp-Control on Thursday at CFI. Globe | Roger Nomer
Jim Walenczak (right), assistant general manager of sales and marketing for Kenworth, presents Greg Orr, president of CFI, with a plaque marking the 15,000th truck delivered to CFI on Thursday. Globe | Roger Nomer
Laura Woods congratulates husband Michael on receiving the keys to the CFI First Responder truck on Thursday at CFI. Woods served as a firefighter/EMT for 22 years, on top of 19 years spent serving with the Army National Guard. He joined CFI in 2018. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Nancy Eastman, procurement specialist senior, congratulates Albert Arriola Jr. on receiving the keys to the CFI 70th anniversary W990 truck. The 28-year driver has chalked up 3.2 million miles. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER

Greg Orr (left), president of CFI, gives the keys to CFI’s 15,000th truck, a next-generation Kenworth T680, to Mary and Ricky Norman on Thursday at CFI. The couple combined have rolled up 5.2 million miles for CFI, which is marking its 70th anniversary. GLOBE  | ROGER NOMER
Albert Arriola Jr. talks about driving the CFI 70th anniversary W990 truck on Thursday at CFI. Globe | Roger Nomer
Les North talks about the True to the Troops truck he will drive for CFI Temp-Control on Thursday at CFI. Globe | Roger Nomer
Jim Walenczak (right), assistant general manager of sales and marketing for Kenworth, presents Greg Orr, president of CFI, with a plaque marking the 15,000th truck delivered to CFI on Thursday. Globe | Roger Nomer
Laura Woods congratulates husband Michael on receiving the keys to the CFI First Responder truck on Thursday at CFI. Woods served as a firefighter/EMT for 22 years, on top of 19 years spent serving with the Army National Guard. He joined CFI in 2018. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Nancy Eastman, procurement specialist senior, congratulates Albert Arriola Jr. on receiving the keys to the CFI 70th anniversary W990 truck. The 28-year driver has chalked up 3.2 million miles. GLOBE | ROGER NOMER
Excuse Mary Norman if, for a fleeting moment, she felt like the prizewinner on a popular game show.
“I feel like I’ve just won a new car,” she said.
It wasn’t a new car but rather the opportunity to drive a 14,200-pound Kenworth T680 sleeper truck, splashed with the trademark red color of Joplin’s Contract Freighters Inc.
Mary and husband Ricky, a veteran CFI driving team, were handed the keys to CFI’s 15,000th truck during a Thursday morning ceremony. The company purchased its first Kenworth truck — a T600 model — in 1985.
“I am so honored and so privileged to drive it,” Mary Norman said, watching as her husband climbed up inside the cab.
The two have collectively driven more than 5.2 million miles. Ricky Norman joined CFI in 1994, while his wife came aboard in 2010. Since they’ve known each other since high school, they share a bond that’s made them “perfect ambassadors” for the company, said Danny Hale, CFI senior manager. The two, he said, embody the “honesty and grit” that showcases why they were chosen to co-captain the company’s newest fleet truck in the first place.
“We know Ricky and Mary will proudly show off their new truck to anyone” who asks, he said.
The importance behind the 15,000th truck’s presentation was cause enough for Jim Walenczak, assistant general manager for sales and marketing for Kenworth, to travel from Seattle to Joplin to attend the ceremony.
“This recognition is very important to us,” Walenczak said. This occasion was particularly special to Kenworth, he said, because “you are our largest customer and … have been a very special and loyal customer for a long time. You were early adopters of our … trucks (in 1985), and you’re doing it again today in 2021.”
“Anytime you mention CFI in this community, the Four-State Area or nationwide, several things come to mind: integrity, honesty, passion for the business and success,” said Scott Robbins, branch manager with Murphy-Hoffman Co., a multistate network of truck dealerships that has partnered with CFI for nearly 40 years. “You take care of your employees, your customers, your vendors and your community … and we’re proud to be associated with you.”
CFI President Greg Orr chuckled at the comparison to being seen as a game show host — even remarking at one point during the ceremony for “the show to begin” — as he and other company officials unveiled four specially wrapped trucks, each sporting unique graphics, to four “exceptional” drivers. As each driver was introduced, Orr would shake their hands, whisper congratulations to them, and hand them keys to the monster trucks next to them.
The honored drivers recognized Thursday:
• Michael Woods received the company’s “First Responder” wrap series Kenworth, which represents all first responders nationwide who come to the aid of others and carries needed supplies to disasters when they happen throughout the U.S. Woods served as a firefighter/EMT for 22 years, on top of 19 years spent serving with the Army National Guard. He joined the CFI fleet in 2018.
• Steve Landon received CFI’s “True to the Troops” truck, which honors the country’s servicemen, servicewomen and their respective families. Hale said 14% of CFI’s driving ranks are composed of military veterans. Landon, who joined CFI in 2016, spent 26 years with the U.S. Army, working his way up to a combat medic, and serving in Iraq, Korea, Bosnia and Afghanistan during that time.
• Les North, who received the second “True to the Troops” truck, served in the reserves between 1979 and 1982 and served active duty from 1982 to 1997, retiring from the U.S. Air Force as a major. Since joining CFI, the Brookfield, Missouri, native has amassed 1.7 million driving miles.
• Albert Arriola Jr. was chosen by CFI officials to drive the company’s special CFI 70th Anniversary truck, a Kenworth W990. A 28-year driving veteran, he has amassed more than 3.2 million miles.
“Albert has worked hard to build his strong character and is someone who commits to leading by example,” said Dustin Quesenberry, CFI’s vice president of operations. “For those of you who know Albert … he never stops short of doing a good job, but goes above and beyond, working just as hard to educate others on what he has learned over the years to help promote their success.”
Arriola said he was humbled by those words of praise and that receiving the new truck was “a huge honor.” Still, he emphasized that every day he is simply doing his job when out hauling on the road.
“It takes all of us to be successful,” the Texas native said. “We all have to work as a team.”
It’s statements like Arriola’s, Orr said, that have made truckers and haulers have become the unsung heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“If we don’t have these folks doing their jobs, within two days we’re shut down,” he said. “And that’s so hard to explain for people to understand, that we’re so reliant on truckers, and we’re accustomed to it — until it’s not there. I don’t think people really understand the impact professional truck drivers have” on society.
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JOPLIN, MO – Brandon Jamaal Pate, 45, an education paraprofessional, passed away Sunday, September 19, 2021. A celebration of life will be 2 p.m. Sunday at Riverton High School fieldhouse. Arrangements by Ozark Memorial Park Crematory, Joplin.
SENECA, MO – Margaret Ann King, 92,passed away Wednesday, September 22, 2021. Services 10 a.m. Monday at Seneca Church of Christ. Visitation 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday at the church. Arrangements by Campbell-Biddlecome Funeral Home, Seneca.

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