And so it was this week when the Highway Hero for 2018, Stephen Meje, a driver for Pretoria-based Faith Wheels, pulled off his blindfold and saw his larger-than-life image and the Hollard Highway Heroes branding emblazoned on the side of his fuel tanker.
Meje threw his head back and, beaming, clapped his hands with joy, as his Faith Wheels colleagues and visitors from Elegant Fuel – whose product he transports – applauded.
“The truck looks so beautiful!” he exclaimed, when he was asked what he thought of its new livery.
Mark Fourie, director of Faith Wheels, was equally happy with the truck’s branding, saying that it not only trumpets Meje’s success, but benefits both Faith Wheels and Elegant Fuel as well.
“For branding and awareness, it’s excellent for the Faith Wheels and Elegant Fuel brands. Everyone will see it.”
Fourie lauded Meje as a highly skilled driver “who really embraced Hollard Highway Heroes and was motivated to do well”.
“His achievement has made all of our drivers more attentive about road safety, creating a win-win situation for both of our companies, our drivers and the public. Since March 2018 we’ve transported 370-million litres of fuel over 7.5-million kilometres without fatalities,” said Fourie.
Safety is also a priority for MasterDrive, Hollard Trucking’s preferred supplier for truck driver training. Said MasterDrive managing director Eugene Herbert: “MasterDrive appreciates any opportunity to make our roads safer. We applaud Hollard on this initiative, and look forward to working with them in the future.”
Elegant Group director Ryno Strydom said Elegant shared Meje and Faith Wheels’ Highway Heroes win, which illustrates the value of empowering people.
“We always put our people first, including the communities in which we operate, students and schoolchildren, our customers, our own staff and those of our partners – including the drivers of our trucks.
“And what we get in return is quality, as demonstrated by Stephen Meje; his recognition as Hollard Highway Hero for 2018 is a great achievement, and a big empowerment win for us,” said Strydom.
Meje said that the R100 000 prize he won at the end of last year has meant great things for him and his family.
“I’ve got a child at university, and I put some money towards her education. And I did renovations to my house,” he explained.
It was wonderful to witness Meje’s reaction to the truck reveal, said Hollard Highway Heroes competition manager Elka du Piesanie.
“To see Stephen’s great delight at how we’ve branded his truck was a reminder of just how meaningful Highway Heroes is to the drivers who participate in it,” she said.
“Which makes the prospect of the 2019 Highway Heroes that much more exciting. We’ve got great plans for this year’s competition, which will be revealed soon.”
Irrespective of what this year’s competition may bring, what it takes to win won’t change at all. Asked for some tips. Meje was clear.
“Always plan your route – and what time you’re leaving, and when you expect to arrive [at your destination]. Don’t drive on the barrier line, and always respect the laws of the road. And be patient.”