Transport America celebrates its women drivers

user-gravatar Headshot

Women are changing America’s trucking industry.

That was the theme and message delivered in several ways at a festive gathering at Transport America in Eagan, Minnesota recently.

Sheryl Lanier, a driver trainer based in Birmingham, Alabama with her newly wrapped truck

Company officials, drivers and guests assembled under a tent for a few speeches, the debut of a new company video about its women drivers and some barbecue. It was also a time to recognize — and surprise — one driver in particular.

Megan Gaffney, director of marketing for Transport America, says the proof that Transport America is changing trucking for women is in the numbers. She says TA has 1,717 drivers, 247 of whom are women. That equates to 17 percent, or almost three times the national average for women in the industry. Gaffney adds that TA has 158 owner/operators; 32 of them are women, or 25 percent.

Several of Transport America’s woman drivers were on hand to deliver personal perspectives.

Sheryl Lanier, a driver trainer based in Birmingham, Alabama had been an administrative assistant for Atlanta corporate executives in a previous career. Like many women who come to the trucking industry, Lanier said she wanted a career change, and found one she loves and has not looked back.

Tracy Hamilton

While on stage, Lanier — who many know as “Georgia Girl” — wondered aloud what had happened to her truck. When she arrived in Eagan, she was told it was going to be detailed.

Instead, the company spirited away Lanier’s Freightliner to give it a special wrap and signage. Lanier was more than a bit surprised when her truck was delivered to the celebration with a diamond-patterned wrap and signs proclaiming, “Proud to be a woman driver changing trucking,” and “There’s a proud woman driver behind this wheel.”

Debuted at the gathering was Transport America’s latest video. In about three and a half minutes, “Women Changing Trucking” has a number of women — from drivers to corporate officials — making the case for why driving trucks is a good career choice for women.

Tracy Hamilton is one of the TA drivers in the video. She says women are beginning to earn more respect they haven’t had in the past.

Partner Insights
Information to advance your business from industry suppliers
The ALL NEW Rand Tablet
Presented by Rand McNally

In the video, Hamilton says, “The industry can be harsh and it’s a lot of hard work.” But, she adds, “It has made me a stronger person because you have to be prepared for what’s coming at you. It gives you a lot of independence and self-esteem and motivation.”

Zuzana Claycomb

Near the end of the video she urges women truck drivers to “just have fun with life because ultimately that’s what it’s all about.”

Zuzana Claycomb is a TA student driver instructor, and in the video says that driving a truck was a dream of hers since she was a little girl. It’s a dream that has paid off for her, she says.

Claycomb says the opportunity to drive for TA has been empowering and allows her to be her own boss. And, there are other benefits as well:

“My favorite part about being out on the road is the adventure; the wildness; the awesomeness. I love it out here; the freedom of the open road. This country’s beautiful.”

TA CEO and President Keith Klein appears in the film. In it he says, “Of course there are going to be people in the industry who have a perception that’s outdated. I think that’s a challenge, but it’s certainly one we help overcome.”

Ellen Voie, president and CEO of Women in Trucking spoke at the event and offered some insights into just the women behind the wheels of trucks are. Voie said:

  • The average age of women in the industry is 52
  • Most raised their children to adulthood before becoming a driver
  • The majority of them got into the industry because of a man; their father, husband, uncle
  • They are “attracted by the pay but stay for the adventure”
  • 80 percent of women who responded to a recent question on the WIT Facebook page said they own a motorcycle or have a motorcycle license

Gaffney summed up the day’s events by saying, “This event is at its core about celebrating the magic that happens when talented people come together to make things happen within the trucking industry at a company that cares more than anything about its culture.”