Former company driver now leads her own team of truckers

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Updated Aug 10, 2016
Keeli Kennedy (Image Courtesy of Keeli Kennedy)

Keeli Kennedy got into the trucking industry as a company driver, but after learning her way around a rig she decided to get her own authority. Now, she oversees a fleet of six team drivers at her company, Northern Alaska Arctic Transport.

Working in Alaska and training drivers to adapt between the United States and Canada presents its own challenges, considering the two countries have different regulations.

“It’s very different running between Alaska and let’s say Seattle, because you have a whole different country in the middle,” Kennedy said.

She’s up for the challenge, though. More than that, she says she enjoys the challenge of it.

Kennedy and her husband, Kevin, started driving team five years ago after they were both feeling unsatisfied with their previous careers. She was a dental hygienist; he was a college professor. They were looking for a change, and her husband was already a CDL holder.

Kennedy’s husband trained her in trucking, and the two have driven team ever since. 

“I love the independence. I love the freedom. I love that I can work when I want, where I want. I enjoy having my own company and being self-sufficient,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy has authority in the lower 48 states, Alaska, Canada and Mexico. She and her husband drive a 2014 Peterbilt 388 and haul reefer or dry van.

Kennedy has always considered herself to be self-reliant, so getting her own authority and becoming an owner-operator was a natural progression for her. She wanted to be able to choose what she hauled and where she went.

“I wanted to feel challenged. I knew I could do the business aspect of it,” Kennedy said. “Sometimes I just felt like, in other aspects of my careers, I felt frustrated because I’m a very hard-driven worker and I didn’t always like the fact I had to work with people that kind of did the bare minimum. I liked to be able to call the shots.” 

Kennedy says trucking may still be a male-dominated industry, but she’s excited to see more and more women entering the industry. She recommends anyone interested in trucking understand that it’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle.

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“My biggest thing is if you really do want to get into trucking understand you are not going to have the luxuries you have if you’re working a 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.,” Kennedy said.