Millennials in Trucking: Not What You Expect
The millennial designation tends to turn-up noses and rotate stomachs for some folks. For others, it’s a badge of honor for those who know they have the world in the palm of their hands. The bottom line, though, is that we’re all existing in this moment together so let’s try to see each other’s perspectives.
Enter, the Millennials In Trucking.
Expediters Online: “Thanks for taking some time to chat today. I’ve really been looking forward to this conversation. Why don’t we begin with your origin story. How and why did you get into trucking?”
Jackie: “Well, we were hanging out with some friends one night and Mike and his buddy brought up how, when they were kids, they had talked about becoming truck drivers. So, we began to do our research by going to local truck stops and talking with drivers about the industry.”
Mike: “We started by driving for Covenant, as big rig drivers, after coming out of driving school in 2015. We were living in Atlanta and took advantage of a county program which helped us obtain our CDL licenses, and Covenant gave us the opportunity to start without having prior over-the-road experience.”
Jackie: “We were working overnight at Home Depot, stocking, while attending driving school. We really busted our butts because we had a goal in front of us.”
Mike: “I still remember we’d go to school, come home and nap for about two hours, then get up and go into work in the stockroom.”
EO: “Why was Covenant your choice to really cut your teeth in the industry?”
Jackie: “At the time, Covenant was one of the early leaders in the industry when it came to hiring female drivers.”
Mike: “Yeah, at that time the industry was at 2% hiring when it came to women, and we found that Covenant was at 11%.”
EO: “What was it like coming from Covenant and then getting into expediting?”
Jackie: “The biggest difference is that with driving a big rig, we’re focused on the amount of miles driven. Where in expedite, it’s less about the miles and more about the load you’re being offered and accepting.”
EO: “I started in this industry 15 years ago, as a recruiter for Panther. One of the hardest conversations I’d have with drivers was trying to explain that miles versus load mentality. How long did it take you guys to become acclimated to that?”
Mike: “I’d say it took about six to eight months. The biggest thing was learning to change our mindset, especially because I had always been a very ‘blue-collar’ type of worker. Like Jackie said, it’s not the miles but the type of load and freight you’re hauling that makes the money.”
EO: “So you went from Covenant to Fed Ex Custom Critical and became Millennials In Trucking. Let’s talk about how you came up with the name and concept for Millennials In Trucking, and what that means.”
Jackie: “Well first of all, it’s a punchline. You know, people generalize and think that millennials don’t know what they’re doing, or that we’re out here seeking participation trophies. But we’re trying to set the example for those millennials who are working themselves up from the ground level, making a name for themselves and not taking anything that’s being handed out.”
EO: “Okay, but how do you set the tone for something like that?”
Jackie: “We’ve been the Millennials In Trucking since day one, when we went into Covenant and I became the first female to win the Pilot/Flying J Road Warrior Award in 2016. We set a tone early, and we’ve stuck with that.”
EO: “How did you come up with the name?”
Mike: “At first, I wasn’t thinking of a bigger brand to catch attention. I was thinking something like, J&M Trucking.”
Jackie: “Then it came to me one night. Like, we ARE millennials and we’re representing the trucking industry. We came in loud from the get-go, and we are making our mark.”
EO: “Well, you’re setting an example. I think that’s the best part about what you’re doing and what you bring to the table.”
Jackie: “Thank you, we love bringing our example to the forefront, especially when we get to speak at the Expedite Expo. We’ve been invited four years in a row, and we love sharing with others who may also be young and getting into the industry.”
EO: “You guys really are bringing a different mindset to the trucking industry. What are some other examples of the work you’re doing to help the younger generation of drivers?”
Jackie: “Check out the blog section on our website; it has lots of information for the younger ones who are new to the trucking game – our COVID information page, insights on mental health awareness, and telehealth and the National Suicide Hotline. It’s information for a generation just wanting to understand what it takes to blaze their own trail.”
EO: “It’s been my feeling for a while that the transportation industry needs to find a way to cater to the younger more accepting mentality, of the up-and-coming generation. I feel you guys are doing your part to help spread that approach, so that future drivers have an easier time acclimating than the current batch of millennials. Keep doing that!”
A favorite movie quote that, when taken at face value is meant to be a throwaway line in an 80’s comedy, comes from the film “Spies Like Us.” In the scene, Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase are posing as doctors in the Pakistani desert, clearly not understanding the way to properly remove a dying man’s appendix. When being questioned by another doctor, Aykroyd’s character exclaims, “we mock what we don’t understand.”
It’s true that we as a society tend to mock people and things that we have little understanding of. And rather than seeking to comprehend, we take the easy way out by belittling a person or belief which holds little meaning to us. Perhaps it’s time that we open our minds and seek to understand where the other person is coming from, rather than close it off to our own pre-set determinations.
Just something to think about.