Owner-operator prefers hauling containers for a living

September 12, 2017
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Owner-operator Cherryl Lannigan rides motorcycles when she’s not driving her truck. She started riding motorcycles about 10 years ago and is now on her third bike.

Cherryl Lannigan enjoys what she says some truckers view as the less glamorous, even mundane, work of hauling containers. Working in and out of the Port of Savannah, the owner-operator says that if you’re doing what you love, and are taking care of your family, then what you pick up and deliver doesn’t matter.

Besides, Lannigan said this kind of work allows her plenty of time for the other wheeled passions in her life: racing her dragster and riding her motorcycle.

Lannigan, from Savannah, Georgia, got her CDL in 2006, and now she and her husband, Walter, own three trucks. They’re both truckers, and they have another driver operating their third truck. Lannigan drives a 1998 Freightliner FLD with a custom purple paint job and purple interior. Her truck is aptly named “Purple Passion.”

“I always wanted to drive trucks ever since I was little. That was my lifelong dream, so everyday when I go to work it’s not just work for me. It’s my passion and I love what I do,” Lannigan said.

She’s hauled containers since 2009. She previously hauled sugar for one of the refineries near Savannah, but an explosion at the factory in 2008 led her to pursue other freight opportunities. Hauling containers has been a good fit for her because there’s plenty of access to freight.

“In my area where I live, in the port, it just makes it really convenient to haul the containers,” Lannigan said.

Where there’s a plethora of freight, however, there’s sometimes a shortage of equipment or chassis. Sometimes the chassis may be hard to find, Lannigan says, or the brakes and tires may not be up to par. There are also sometimes long wait times at the port.

“Don’t take something out of the port that you wouldn’t haul down the road yourself because it could cause problems for another driver,” Lannigan said.

Cherryl Lannigan’s dragster.

She encourages other drivers to consider hauling containers because of the flexibility it offers, especially in terms of home time. She recommends living in or near a port city if you want to do that kind of work.

“I’m home everyday and still trucking and doing what I love. The flexibility is, to me, the best thing about hauling containers,” she said.

Lannigan said some  drivers look down on container work, thinking it’s low on the trucking totem pole. That couldn’t be more wrong, she said.

“Call it what you want to call it. I get up and I do what I want to do with my truck every single day and I’m doing what I love to do,” Lannigan said. “I’m making money at it and taking care of my family. When you have a passion, it does not matter what you’re hauling.”

When Lannigan isn’t behind the wheel of her truck, she’s behind the wheel of her dragster. Lannigan was inspired to drag race by Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, who was the first woman to receive a license to drive a top fuel dragster from the National Hot Rod Association. Lannigan and her husband both drag race.

“I like the cars and the speed of it and just the different environment,” Lannigan said of drag racing.

Lannigan also rides motorcycles. She bought her first bike on a whim 10 years ago, and has loved biking since.

“I didn’t know how to ride it. I didn’t have a clue, but I wanted one. I’m on my third bike now,” she said.

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