Air Force experience helps Rookie finalist succeed

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Updated Aug 24, 2017
William RootWilliam Root

After retiring from serving in the Air Force for 20 years, William Root was looking for a new career that wouldn’t keep him away from his family for as long as his deployments had.

He had two friends who were truckers, and they suggested the field to him. Root, from Buffalo, New York, liked that trucking would only keep him out for 3-4 weeks at a time instead of 3-4 months. Root decided to go to trucking school and nowdrives for H.O. Wolding, hauling mostly recyclable materials such as cardboard. He is one of 10 finalists for Truckers News’ 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award.

“I didn’t want to be away from the family as long as before with all the deployments, so I thought trucking might be the way to go because then at most it’s 3-4 weeks at a time,” Root said.

In the Air Force, Root worked primarily in construction. He traveled all over the world, meeting all sorts of people. He did everything from helping out with routine maintenance on aircraft hangers and runways to building full-size cities during deployment. 

Root says meeting different people while in the service has helped him in trucking because of the array of folks he meets while driving.

“In the trucking industry you’ve got all kinds of distributors, shippers, receivers. There’s a lot of customers to deal with, so on a personal level that worked out great,” Root said.

He also has experience as a locksmith, which is a solitary career similar to trucking. He says he also got used to working independently.

“Being a locksmith at times, that’s a one man show there. As a truck driver, you’re also a one man show, so that helps out a lot,” Root said.

Root drives a regional route right now in the Northeast. He wants to get his first year of experience under his belt, and then hopes to go over-the-road and travel more.

“I stick with that area but it’s given me the experience,” he said. “I would love to go over-the-road down the road and go down south and get into the Southeast and see the rest of the country as well.”

Root appreciates the role he plays in the supply chain process.

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“I know that there’s at least hundreds of people looking for the merchandise,” Root said. “Whatever they need, they’re counting on me to get it from Point A to Point B. It feels pretty good knowing that materials are being move and I’m part of it.” 

The winner of the 2017 Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25 at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • Expenses paid trip to the awards presentation in Dallas
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • American Trucking Associations “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package, which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • An IntelliRoute TNDTM 730 LM GPS Unit and a Deluxe Motor Carriers’ Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra
  • Feature story in Truckers News

The other nine finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products merchandise, featuring the Road Pro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • American Trucking Associations‘ “Good Stuff Trucks Bring It” package which includes a logoed polo shirt, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • An IntelliRoute TNDTM 730 LM GPS Unit 
  • CB radio from Cobra

Sponsors include:

  • The RoadPro Family of Brands
  • Rand McNally
  • Cobra Electronics
  • Progressive
  • RedEye Radio
  • ATA

Partnering with Truckers News in the search are the three national organizations overseeing truck driver training:

  • Commercial Vehicle Training Association
  • National Association Of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools
  • Professional Truck Driver Institute

Recognizing the top rookie driver was the idea of the late Mike O’Connell, who was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association. He believed that honoring a top rookie driver helps show new drivers they are appreciated by the trucking industry.