Owner-operator Ann Simantel knows her way around an oversized load. She and her husband, Chris, drive team together and haul mostly agricultural equipment and other large loads with their 2010 International Lonestar. They’re usually pulling an RGN trailer or step deck.
“I like the physical labor. It’s not just sitting behind a wheel and driving down the road. You actually get out and put some effort into it. It takes a lot of time and a lot of thinking,” Simantel said about her loads.
The loads she hauls offer a challenge in terms of load securement, as well.
“Every single load has its own challenge. It depends on where you’re at, what the traffic is like, and what equipment you’ve got on,” said Simantel, who’s from Scotland, South Dakota.
Simantel was a self-described tomboy growing up. She was never a fan of Barbies but instead loved playing with trucks, she says. When she met Chris, who was already a trucker, he took her for a ride and she was hooked. She got CDL and they have been driving together for four years.
“I grew up playing with trucks and I always thought one day I want to do that,” she said about trucking.
Being an owner-operator appealed to her because it gives her control over who she works with.
“I like the freedom to choose who I want to haul for. We are currently leased with Nelsen Transportation but we’ve tried other companies before them. We’ve had the freedom to find the place that fits best with us and we fit well with them as well,” Simantel said.
Simantel encourages other women interested in doing the same kind of hauling she does to not let anything hold them back. It’s important to treat each day as a learning experience and to not be afraid to ask questions, she says.
“You have to go for it. If it’s something that you want, you have to go for it,” she said.
When she and Chris have down time, they’re spending time with their five children and grandchild. They have a motorcycle, and the whole family loves taking turns with it. Simantel doesn’t currently drive it, but she goes for regular rides. Each year she and Chris take vacation time in August to participate in the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a 10-day ride with 500,000 riders cruising through the Black Hills of South Dakota.
“It’s a big get-together part and relaxation, riding through the Black Hills of South Dakota where that’s so many beautiful sights out there,” Simantel said. “A week really isn’t enough to see everything.”