Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist always wanted to be a trucker

Willis Robinson always wanted to be a trucker, but he put that goal on hold to stay close to home and be with his children when they were younger.

Robinson, of Garysburg, North Carolina, and his wife decided the new year was a good time to dive into his dream, so he enrolled in the Future Truckers of America school in Aseboro, North Carolina.

“I knew my family’s support was important to my success. My wife and I decided that the time I am fortunate enough to be at home, we will spend that precious time together as a family,” Robinson said.

He started driving for Cargo Transporters in February, and was recently named a 2016 Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist. The winner will be named Friday at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas.

“I love the driving and dealing with some of the good people you run into,” Robinson said. Robinson drivers a box truck over the road.

Willis RobinsonWillis Robinson

Robinson was first introduced into trucking through a cousin who was a driver.

“My plans are to stick with it because I love it,” Robinson said. “You don’t have the overhead and stress all over you, you don’t have your boss nagging you. As long as you’re doing your job they don’t bother you.”

Josh Frederick, Robinson’s fleet leader, nominated him for the Trucking’s Top Rookie award. Willis has delivered almost 100 loads for Cargo Transporters, says Frederick, and he has a one hundred percent on time delivery record. Willis has traveled over 45,000 miles without incident, Frederick says.

“If I had one word to describe Willis Robinson it would be ‘consistent,'” Frederick said. “He consistently delivers freight safely, on time and with a great attitude.”

Lewis Taylor, a trainer driver for Cargo Transporters, spent eight weeks with Robinson showing him the ways of the road. He says Robinson’s eagerness to learn and his work ethic made him a stand out trainee.

“Willis Robinson impressed me from the beginning of our eight weeks together. He came with a notebook, an openness to learn something very new to him and a great attitude,” Taylor said.

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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.