Trucking a family affair for Minnesota Top Rookie finalist

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Updated Jan 11, 2018
Shawna Froehlich and her Dart company truck. (Image Courtesy of Shawna Froehlich)

Trucking runs in the family for trucker Shawna Froehlich, of Belle Plaine, Minnesota. Her grandmother, great uncle and cousins were all truckers. Trucking was practically in her blood, and she decided to follow in their footsteps and get her CDL.

“I figured if my granny can do it, I can do it,” said Froehlich, who was recently selected as a 2016 Trucking’s Top Rookie finalist.

She drives dry van for Dart, typically running from Minnesota to Texas and east of that line.

Steve Young, Froehlich’s fleet manager, praised her communication skills.

“It is essential to communicate in order to be successful on the road, and it makes my job as a fleet manager a lot easier to have drivers like Shawna who ask the right questions,” Young said. 

Young said Froehlich’s willingness to seek out advice from veteran drivers has been a great benefit to her growth as a trucker.

“She has a great support system of veteran drivers that she goes to when she needs guidance which enables her to be more successful than most drivers who are new to the industry,” Young said.

While Froehlich says she faces certain challenges as a woman in the industry, her support system helps her overcome those hurdles. It isn’t always easy being a woman in trucking, she says, and she’s had some naysayers try to tell her she isn’t good enough to do her job.

“At times they can be hard to ignore. However, I have great friends, mentors and supporters who keep me motivated and encouraged,” Froehlich said. “Having a community has given me the strength and guidance I feel I need to feel confident in my ability as a woman trucker.”

Froehlich plans to continue hauling dry van for the foreseeable future, but she says she’d ultimately like to drive team and haul flatbed.

Shawna Froehlich in front of the truck she drives for Dart. (Image Courtesy of Shawna Froehlich)

“It’s a little more rigorous. You have to throw chains, you have to throw tarps, you have to throw straps. You really do have to be more active and I think it’ll help keep me in shape,” Froehlich said.

When she finds herself with some downtime, Froehlich likes to spend time with her children and grandchildren. She enjoys riding her Harley-Davidson and going horseback riding.

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The winner of the Trucking’s Top Rookie award will be announced during ceremonies at the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas this month, and will receive $10,000 and a package of prizes. 

The eight runners up will receive $1,000 and other prizes as well.

The Trucking’s Top Rookie contest is a partnership between “Truckers News” and the Truckload Carriers Association. Sponsors and supporters include the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, Rand McNally, Pilot Flying J, Progressive Commercial Insurance, National Association of Publicly Funded Driving Schools, Professional Truck Driver Institute, American Trucking Associations, Cobra and the Red Eye Radio Network.

The winner receives:

  • $10,000 cash
  • $1,000 cash and 100,000 Pilot Flying J MyReward points
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • Interview on Red Eye Radio Network with Eric Harley
  • A feature in “Truckers News”
  • $1,000 worth of DAS Products merchandise featuring the RoadPro Getting Started Living On-The-Go Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package, which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit and a Motor Carrier Road Atlas from Rand McNally
  • A dash cam and CB radio from Cobra

The eight other finalists receive:

  • $1,000 cash
  • 50,000 MyRewards points from Pilot Flying J
  • A custom plaque from Award Company of America
  • $100 worth of DAS Products Merchandise, featuring the RoadPro MobileSpec Portable Life Package
  • An American Trucking Associations prize package which includes a polo shirt with logo, baseball cap, model truck and utility knife
  • A GPS unit from Rand McNally
  • A CB radio from Cobra

The award is named for the late Mike O’Connell was formerly the executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association, and originated the idea of honoring a top rookie driver to help show new drivers they are important to and appreciated by the trucking industry.