Little Rock, AR (May 20, 2009) - Toni Chandler (Antje Luitjens) was named Arkansas Trucking Association’s 2008 Driver of the Year on May 15th 2009 at the Hot Springs Convention Center in Hot Springs Arkansas. Chandler and her husband, Leslie Paugh live in Benton, AR. She joined CalArk on December 19, 1995 and has logged over 1.8 million safe miles with CalArk with no accidents, no moving violations and 100% on time delivery.
Her story is truly an example of achieving the American dream. In July 1968, Chandler boarded an ocean liner in Hamburg, West Germany with her mother and two sisters to travel to the United State to meet her father. Her family settled in Fairfax, VA where her father worked for a Mercedes dealership as a master automotive technician. Through her close relationship with her father, she learned to repair small gasoline engines and a myriad of other automotive preventive maintenance procedures. When old enough to drive, Chandler immediately obtained her driving license, and began to explore the State of Virginia. This led to her fondness for over-the-road travel.
Chandler served honorably in the United States Navy from 1980 to 1992 where she achieved the rank of Petty Officer First Class (E-6). While in the Navy, she was assigned to the Navy Material Transportation Office Command and trained in a variety of transportation, air passenger and cargo handling procedures. In addition, she obtained licenses to operate forklifts up to 10 ton and K-loaders for loading aircraft. Chandler was a member of the first contingent of female sailors stationed aboard the USS Emory S. Land, a submarine repair ship, operating out of Norfolk, VA. While assigned there, she worked in various supply administrative positions. After leaving the Navy, she worked as a certified armed security officer and later as the State Certified Compliance Officer for a Norfolk, VA security company. This stationary job left her with a desire to look for employment in a field that included traveling around the country.
In 1982, while stationed on the USS Emory S. Land, Chandler met her future husband, Leslie, Paugh. Paugh served with the United States Navy from 1970 to 1993 when he was honorably retired as a Chief Petty Officer (E-7). Paugh also came from a family who loved to travel. His great grandmother traveled from the East Coast of America to Alaska and back to the Midwest, and his grandmother traveled by mule, horse, covered wagon, stagecoach, boat, car, bus, train, propeller driven airplane and finally a jet. In the 1940’s and 1950’s, his grandfather drove automotive transports and his father hauled lumber.
Paugh’s family history sparked Chandler’s interest in learning to drive a commercial-motor-vehicle so that she could pursue her goal of traveling across the United States. Her husband fully supported her career move and joined her in July 1996. He acts as her trip planner, navigator and permanent support team member.
To obtain her CDL, Chandler attended Tri-State Driving School in Middletown, OH in 1995. She drove briefly for a carrier that went out of business before reading about CalArk in a trucking magazine and submitting her application. From her hire date, Chandler and Paugh have been valued members of “Team CalArk”. In addition to her driving duties, Chandler has volunteered to assist with CalArk’s border crossing program to create procedures and sample forms to assist other drivers. Chandler has trained and mentored newly hired drivers in a wide range of functions where additional instruction was required. She was featured with four other drivers on the cover of the Arkansas Trucking Report, August 2006 edition and in an article “The Road Is Calling”.
Chandler and Paugh are admired by CalArk’s Management Team and fellow employees for their professionalism and desire to give their very best in all endeavors. CalArk was honored to have Toni Chandler as their representative for the Arkansas Association Driver of the year for 2008.
Photo caption: Pictured are (left to right) Tom Bartholomew, Michelle Lievsay, Toni Chandler, Leslie Paugh and Rochelle Gorman.
News & Events