Team drivers for Cromex Inc. of Villa Park, Illinois, say things were looking bleak after they were stranded in a Chicago-area hotel for three days more than 1,000 miles from home without a paycheck or a truck until a truckers outreach organization offered to pay their rental car expenses to get them home to Jacksonville, Florida.
On Tuesday, the team drivers were headed home thanks to a nonprofit group, Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders (TEAR), after the drivers feared being homeless in Illinois when their funds ran out.
The father-and-son team, with a combined 24 years of driving experience under their belts, said Danijel [or Daniel] Krizanac, owner of Cromex, “ghosted” them after returning their tractor-trailer to the carrier’s yard on Friday, as they waited for a different truck to drive, which never arrived.
Neither did their paychecks, which amounted to about $3,000 for two weeks’ pay and reimbursement for the hotel they booked to wait for their new truck to be out of the shop.
“It was all empty promises,” said the younger trucker, who asked to be identified by his Twitter handle @RunnTDC or by SuperHussle. “I thought we were friends but now he’s in the wind and he’s not going to respond to me anymore. He’s blocked all of our numbers.”
His dad did not want to be named or interviewed for the article for fear of retaliation.
Co. drivers paid as 1099 contractors
At one point, SuperHussle, who said the pair operated as company drivers but were paid as 1099 contractors, asked Krizanac if they could move personal items they cleared out of their other truck, check out of the hotel and stay in the new truck until it was finished amid dwindling funds.
Krizanac’s response back to the drivers was: “Company is bankrupt and closed, bro. Trucks went back to [the] bank,” according to one of the text messages shared with FreightWaves.
As of publication on Wednesday, FreightWaves was unable to confirm that Cromex Inc. had filed for bankruptcy.
Cromex listed 15 power units and 16 drivers when it updated its MCS-150 form in October 2022, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website.
However, one of the drivers said that number had dropped to around five trucks in the months leading up to the closure.
Over the past 24 months, Cromex’s trucks had been inspected 20 times, and six had been placed out of service for a 30% out-of-service rate. That is higher than the industry’s national average of around 22%, according to FMCSA data.
The company’s drivers had been inspected 43 times and three were placed out of service, resulting in a 7% out-of-service rate. The national average for drivers is about 6.6%.
The firm’s trucks have been involved in three crashes, including one with injuries and two towaways over the past 24 months.
The father-and-son team has driven for Cromex twice — once for six months and the second time for almost a year.
“The first time we left after six months was because the truck was in the shop more than it was on the road and we barely made any money,” SuperHussle said. “We came back to Cromex when the company we moved to started to not make money or pay on time.”
When asked when he and his dad would be paid and why he gave up the truck, Krizanac responded, “Because I lose money running your a** on a truck [with] payment.”
He also texted the drivers, “You won’t get sh** now and find a new job.”
Daniel Krizanac and his wife, Ervina Krizanac, failed to respond to FreightWaves’ messages seeking comment.
Watch FWNOW’s Top Story about Cromex closure
As Cromex closes, new company opens
According to Illinois secretary of state business filings, Cromex Inc. was incorporated by Danijel Krizanac in April 2017 but isn’t in good standing after failing to file an annual report.
Illinois business filings state that Ervina Krizanac recently opened a trucking company called Boscro Cargo in Evanston, Illinois, with its operating authority being reinstated on March 31. According to FMCSA data, Boscro is using the same DOT and motor carrier numbers as another company she owns, Royal Queen Trans Inc., which had its operating authority revoked in March 2018.
Before his number was blocked, SuperHussle said he sent a final plea to the company owner to pay him and his dad because they didn’t have the funds to make it back home.
Daniel Krizanac’s response was to “figure it out and start making calls for a new job,” SuperHussle said.
“Since the market went into the tank, he can’t pay us on time, if at all, and now he just lured us up here under false pretenses to dump us in the street, literally,” SuperHussle said.