While trucking might be just a means to a paycheck for some, Big G Express driver Stephen Richardson says it’s a “lifelong passion” of his. His enthusiasm for his job shows in his professionalism and safety record over the last 27 years, making it clear why his company nominated him for the 2017 Company Driver of the Year Award.
Richardson not only loves his profession, but he also enjoys the opportunity it gives him to teach others about safety on the road, a value instilled in him early in life by his parents. Richardson says as a child he learned a lot from watching his parents work as professional drivers.
“I think that’s where I get a lot of my actions from,” he says. “It’s just natural because my whole life I grew up with my mom being a school bus driver and handling kids, being safe, and then in the summer time when I was out of school I’d ride in the truck with my dad. I’d get excited about it because I’m up in a big truck, and I would actually get in the back and help him get the groceries out … you know, just being a kid being excited about doing something, not knowing that they were, in a subliminal way, teaching me the safety side of transportation.”
Richardson feels it is important to share his safety knowledge with others, and his mentorship of other drivers earned him Big G’s first Driver of the Year Award in 2013. He was later selected for the Tennessee Driver of the Year, the Tennessee Road Team, and America’s Road Team, where he’s served as a road team captain. Richardson says he’s appreciated the opportunity to serve as an ambassador for trucking, teaching younger drivers and the public about the importance of trucking and road safety.
Although his time on the road makes it difficult to volunteer as often as he’d like, Richardson also believes strongly in supporting charitable organizations. The veteran has driven for Wreaths Across America and has donated to local organizations that help those in need. In fact, when he and his wife lost a total of 165 pounds this past year, they donated their entire wardrobes when they had to go buy smaller clothes.
And while retirement is still a few years away for the 51-year-old, he already has plans to spend more time giving back when he’s done trucking.
“I have this idea in my head that I could do a lot more in the community,” Richardson says. “Volunteering, do something with the Veterans of Foreign Wars — find something to keep myself busy but also enjoy life. Go down to the homeless shelter and help prepare meals, build a house for Habitat for Humanity — the things I like to do now but I just don’t have the time.”
In the meantime, Richardson is enjoying his work and the recognition of a job well done.
“It wasn’t like I was out here trying to be Driver of the Year or trying to be nominated — my company just put me in for it, and it’s just because I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s not like I’m doing anything extra special, at least in my eyes. But that’s a good feeling that people think that much of you.”
Richardson will join fellow finalists Roger Wyble and Don Lewis on March 24 at Truckload Carriers Association’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida, where the winner will be announced.