BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Growing up in Harvey, Illinois, a south suburb of Chicago, Rosko Craig often gave thought to what his life’s work might be.
He decided to become an automotive mechanic, but deep in the recesses of his mind a dream was forming — a dream to become a truck driver.
“I used to go fishing late at night and you’d see the trucks all lit up with their Jake brakes making that loud noise,” he said.
Craig actually did drive a truck for a while in the mid-1990s, but eventually gave up the steering wheel for a job making rivets at a local manufacturing company.
During this time, Craig said he and his wife, Hope, were becoming more and more concerned about their three children — two boys and a girl all, under the age of 12 — growing up in the Chicago area.
“There was a lot of gang and drug activity, and we wanted to get them away from Chicago before they got caught up in it,” Craig said.
Enter a cluster of peanuts. That’s right, peanuts.
“Growing up, we would go visit family in Alabama,” Craig said. “I remember once when I was 5 or 6 years old, my dad and my sister were walking along a little dirt (path) and there was this peanut patch. One of my relatives who lived in Alabama told us to pull up on the portion of the peanut plant that was above the ground. We pulled it up and saw the peanuts that had been growing in the ground. It was the most amazing thing. I told my sister right then and there, ‘When I’m get grown, I’m going to live here.’”
So when years later — in 2003, to be exact — Craig and his family landed in Silas, Alabama, his promise to his sister was fulfilled and his dream of driving a truck was about to become a reality — with a short interruption while he worked on an oil rig.
The first order of business was to get his commercial driver’s license (CDL); then after that, to find a job. He went to work for Ohio-based PI&I Motor Express, pulling a dry van. However, doing so was cutting into family time, so Craig opted to switch to hauling flatbeds, something he still does today.
After PI&I came a job on the oil rig. When that played out, Craig found a job at a motor carrier; however, that ended when he and his employer couldn’t agree on compensation.
Craig said he began the process of hiring on at P&S Transportation at Ensley Alabama, but during orientation his blood pressure was a little elevated and P&S declined to hire him. Luckily, another driver in orientation for P&S at the same time as Craig was a former driver for Montgomery Transport in Birmingham, Alabama — and Montgomery was hiring.
So, it was off to Birmingham, where Craig was hired by Montgomery Transport. Since his hiring, he has proven to be quite successful. He’s achieved over 3 million safe miles and has been named Montgomery Transport’s 2018 Driver of the Year and 2019 Alabama Driver of the Year.
Craig, now 50, is known as an “old school” trucker, respected by his peers, customers and co-workers, who is always willing to help others. Tapping Craig’s driving experience and skill, the company’s managers picked him to serve on its Driver Advisory Board, which researches, writes and implements company policy. In addition, he was recently selected by the company to test a new camera system that replaces a truck’s outside mirrors.
Another outstanding attribute that Montgomery Transport supervisors really appreciate is Craig’s leadership, according to an article in the Alabama Trucker published by the Alabama Trucking Association.
“They say he readily shares wisdom with new drivers, takes accountability for his actions and performs his job at the highest level no matter the circumstance. And he’s also a great spokesperson for the industry, and he regularly touts the role the industry plays in the economy and its daily impact on the lives of Americans,” the article said.
“Rosko is clearly a professional driver who has lots of accomplishments,” Alabama Trucking Association President and CEO Mark Colson told The Trucker.
“Three million safe miles is a tremendous milestone, but along with the experience, he’s also one of those guys who’s got the juice. He’s got the personality and the commitment to detail. He understands that success in trucking is a lot more than just driving a truck,” Colson continued. “You have to know the laws and the regulations, but you also have to have the personality to fit with the client or team you’re working for. Rosko has proven over his long career that he’s the total package for a professional truck driver.”
What makes Craig so special is his positive attitude, R.J. Severtsgaard, Montgomery Transport’s field operations manager, told The Trucker.
“Attitude is contagious in this industry, and he passes that along not only to others in our fleet but drivers he encounters while out on the road,” Severtsgaard noted. “He always has a smile on his face and continuously goes above and beyond to make Montgomery Transport and the trucking industry successful.”
Craig definitely likes being a professional truck driver, especially the independence associated with the job.
“It’s a good way to make a living,” he said as he drove along a Florida highway. “You don’t have anyone looking over your shoulder watching your every move. I might send a message to dispatch in the morning or even speak with them by phone. If something comes up, I might not hear from him the rest of the day.’
Craig likes the fact that his job takes him to all parts of the U.S., and says that trucking is truly his childhood dream becoming reality.
“Every day I wake up, I’m living the dream,” he said. “I’m going to bed in one state one day; wake up, go to bed at another state; wake up in yet another state and go to bed in yet another state. And I love that fact about it.”
Lyndon Finney’s publishing career spans over 55 years beginning with a reporter position with the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 1965. Since then he’s been a newspaper editor at the Southwest Times Record, served five years as assistant managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock and from November 2004 through December 2019 served as editor of The Trucker. Between newspaper jobs he spent 14 years as director of communications at Baptist Health, Arkansas’ largest healthcare system. In addition to his publishing career he served for 46 years as organist at Little Rock’s largest Baptist church.