Trucker of the Year 2010: Cowboy spirit

Todd Dills | February 01, 2010

Said Crawford: “Just give me a chance.”

They put him on as a company driver in the flatbed division in a test-run for potentially lease-purchasing a truck and contracting as an owner-operator – “which means I got paid 19 cents a mile but was allowed to see what I could make as a leased operator,” says Crawford.

He soon proved his productivity and got his choice of trucks. He entered a lease-purchase of a 1994 Freightliner FLD 48-inch flat-top. He says he’s spent less than $20,000 on repairs in 16 years. In 2007, he got curious about how long he could expect its injectors to run and called Detroit Diesel. They outfitted the truck with a new set – $3,000 worth of parts and labor, he says – free of charge and took the old ones for analysis.

He attributes the truck and powertrain’s longevity to good driving practices, staying off the accelerator and limiting idling. He stuck to the speed limit for years, but when diesel shot past $4 a gallon, “I changed my handle from Mustang to Plow Horse,” says Crawford. “I’m safe at 70 mph, but I’m even safer at 57,” which is where he keeps the speedometer on most roads.

Phyllis attributes her husband’s success to things less tangible: his love of trucking “combined with the fact that he can pretty much be his own boss,” she says. “I’m proud of him, too, for what he does, and happy he’s able to do something he so really enjoys.” n

 

And then there were two

Crawford recalls a day in 2002 when he had managed to get his malfunctioning pocketwatch to start running again.

That same day, he learned his close friend, Prime driver Gene Pace, was seriously injured in an accident caused by a shifted load of glass. Crawford, Pace and Russell Gookin were known as the “three amigos” to company staff on account of their close relationships.

Later the Prime flatbed director called to ask if he knew how to get in touch with Gene’s family. “And I said, ‘So Gene’s dead.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, who told you?’ And I said, ‘Well, I just felt it.’ I looked at my pocketwatch again, and it had stopped running around the time he got killed.”

Though Crawford describes himself as a fairly emotional man, “I never cried when Gene died. Gene and I both have a very deep faith, and I knew where he was.”

 

2010 Trucker of the Year prizes

 

• A cap, travel mug and other items from Alliance Parts

• Eight truck tires from Bridgestone Bandag Tire Solutions

• A seat from Bostrom Seats

• Two steer tires from Continental Tires

• A case of fuel additive from Diesel Power

• A bomber jacket, T-shirt and hat from ExxonMobil

• A Gerber tool, flashlight, road atlas, hat and work gloves from Freightliner Trucks

• A case of Meaner Power Kleaner, two cases of Diesel Treat, a hat, jacket, hoodie, and other items from Howe’s

• A limited edition Lonestar leather jacket from International Trucks

• A leather jacket from Mack Trucks

• All-expense-paid trips to the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, and a trip anywhere in the continental United States, with $1,000 from Overdrive

• Overdrive Top Ten Countdown CD each week

• Overdrive Trucking News CD every two weeks and an interview with host Larry Shannon

• Rand McNally 2010 Deluxe Motor Carriers Road Atlas

• Gifts from Volvo