Top Rookie finalist, Army veteran has eye on management career

Chris Crowell driving his rig. (Image Courtesy of Chris Crowell)

Chris Crowell was working at a pet store where he’d just been promoted to manager when he decided to re-evaluate his career path.

The pet store manager gig only offered a 25 cent raise, so Crowell starting looking for alternative jobs, particularly careers with high job security. He found trucking and decided to get his CDL.

Crowell today drives a Kenworth T680 as a company driver for Werner Enterprises, and was recently named a 2016 Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist.

Crowell’s driving position has him home every weekend, giving him time to see his family on a regular basis. He delivers to all of the Best Buy stores on the eastern seaboard.

Crowell said he has found a lot of financial security through trucking. He makes considerably more money than he did at the pet store, which has helped him pay down bills and he’s looking into purchasing a home in Maine.

“The financial security has really changed a lot of things for me,” Crowell said.

Crowell is content to keep on trucking for now, but he’d eventually like to work his way up into management. He served in the U.S. Army for 13 years from Sept. 1997 – Sept. 2010. He had three deployments Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom, and is a Bronze Star Recipient.

While in the army, he worked his way up to the rank of staff sergeant. Crowell wants to take his army leadership experience and apply it to a management position in the trucking industry.

Chris Crowell (Image Courtesy of Chris Crowell)

“I want to get into the managing part of it where you’re in the office taking care of the truckers,” Crowell said.

Kevin Walker, Crowell’s fleet manager at Werner, says a great quality about Crowell is how he puts the accounts’ needs before his own.

“He always puts his job first and his account first. He puts his fellow drivers first,” Walker said.

Walker says Crowell has done a great job establishing himself as both a great driver and a great person.

“He’s very new to trucking but he’s very seasoned in skill level and has developed into a trainer and is teaching the future of Werner,” Walker said.

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The winner of the Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during ceremonies at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this month, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes. 

The eight runners up will receive $1,000 and other prizes as well.

The Trucking’s Top Rookie contest is a partnership between “Truckers News” and the Truckload Carriers Association. Sponsors and supporters include the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, Professional Truck Driver Institute, American Trucking Associations, Cobra and the Red Eye Radio Network.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 Pilot Flying J MyReward points
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • A feature in “Truckers News”
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package, which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit and a Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra

The eight other finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • 50,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products Merchandise, featuring the RoadPro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit from Rand McNally
  • A CB radio from Cobra

The award is named for the late Mike O’Connell was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and originated the idea of honoring a top rookie driver to help show new drivers they are important to and appreciated by the trucking industry.