For Trent Slavens of Frankfort, Ind., the secret behind winning the 2012 National Ready Mixed Concrete Association’s National Mixer Driver Championship is quite simple. “I study hard and practice driving the truck,” says Slavens, a truck driver for Irving Materials Inc. (IMI), Greenfield, Ind. The national competition’s only two-time champion also won the prestigious event in 2010 and has been a participant five times.
For the 2012 contest, held at National Harbor, Maryland, in conjunction with NRMCA’s ConcreteWorks annual meeting and seminars, Slavens’ name was not mentioned as winning any of the individual events – exam, pre-drive mixer truck inspection or obstacle course. He placed second in each. However, it was the consistency exhibited by Slavens in every phase of the competition that gave him the winning edge, allowing him to be crowned, once again, the best of the best.
The type of mixer truck driven in the obstacle course gave Slavens another edge. He requested a truck in which he was familiar and one that boosted his confidence, the Terex FD5000 “Great Lakes” front discharge mixer. It was similar to the model he used for the obstacle course in his 2010 championship. “The Terex truck definitely helped with the obstacle course,” says Slavens. “It maneuvers better than other front discharge mixer, and you can adjust the mirrors in every direction you need. It’s critical to know where you are on the course.”
His experience with Terex mixers reaches well beyond the competitions. For the last 14 years, he has driven Terex front discharge mixers for his job at IMI. Most recently, he has been driving the 2011 model of the FD5000 to make concrete deliveries throughout central Indiana.
The design helps him in the field as well as on the competition’s obstacle course. “I like the way it maneuvers at the jobsite,” says Slavens. “It will smoothly move through sandy soil or pea fill, whereas other designs will wheel-hop. The chute controls are the most responsive I’ve had.”
The soon-to-be-released 2013 Terex FD5000 “Great Lakes” front discharge truck comes standard with an 11 yd3 (8.4 m3) mixer drum manufactured with AR400 abrasion-resistant steel for long wear life. The truck features the Terex-exclusive Total Control System, which combines on-site truck travel and all mixer drum functions into a single joystick control for more accurate and efficient concrete load placement.
The high comfort level Slavens has with Terex front discharge mixers allows him to focus on the other two segments of the competition. Even though he’s been driving mixer trucks for 16 years and has competed at the national level five times, he still studies extensively for the written exam. “I’ll study for a week straight prior to an event,” he says, “and I even studied in between competition segments leading up to the exam at this year’s Nationals.”
Even with being crowned a two-time NRMCA National champion, Slavens still enjoys the competition and has one final achievement that has eluded him. He’s never won the IMI company-wide driver challenge. “I’ve won the regional IMI competitions,” says Slavens, “and Indiana State driving championships but never the company-wide championship. I lost the last one by 1.0 inch (25.4 mm).”
With operations in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois, IMI is known for its stiff internal competition when it comes to driving challenges, as four of the last NRMCA National Mixer Driver Champions have come from IMI, according to Slavens. He attributes this competition to being a better driver, not only in the competitions but every day on the job.