Women in Expedited Trucking: Sandy Goche
Meet Sandy Goche. She's a cancer survivor and now an expedite owner-operator leased to V3 Transportation.
Before Sandy became a full-time expediter in November 2015, she had worked for a Department of Defense contractor for about 28 years, starting as a computer programmer and working her way up to systems administrator.
Sandy and her significant other Stephen Halsted bought their first truck in 2012--"I was the owner. He was the operator"--while she continued working as a systems administrator. Then in 2014, Sandy encountered a major setback: she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Amazingly, a little over a year later, Sandy was healthy and ready to join Stephen for a life on the road.
What led Sandy to become an expediter? What advice does she have for other women who may be considering a career in expedited trucking?
EO spoke with Sandy to learn more about her story--how she got started in expediting, how her cancer diagnosis impacted her decision, and what she likes most about the expedite lifestyle. Here are edited highlights from our conversation.
EO: What lead you from working with computers to driving a truck?
Sandy Goche: There is a store in Cincinnati that we visit a lot called Appointments for collectors of fine writing instruments--I have a lot of pens, mechanical pencils, fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and all that stuff. And an over-the-road truck driver who was also a customer there got us interested in trucking and gave us this advice: "If I had to do it all over again, I would get one of those little bitty expediting trucks, because I'm sitting in line [in my tractor trailer], you know, 20 trucks deep waiting to get unloaded, and these guys [expediters] come blowing by, whether to get loaded or unloaded."
It wasn't long after that conversation in 2012, that we bought an expedite truck and Stephen started driving. He was the operator and I was the owner.
EO: What led you to join Stephen on the road in 2015?
SG: I was doing systems administration work for a Department of Defense contractor, and then in June 2014, I woke up on a Monday morning feeling sick and having all sorts of cramps in my stomach and intestine area. By Friday morning of that week, I could no longer handle the pain, and was taken to the emergency room. I was diagnosed as having colon cancer.
Then while I was sitting in the hospital--I don't know if it was a day or two later--it was one of those life changing moments where I realized that life is too short to be away from the one that you care about. So, I decided that I would get my CDL and get a truck built and go out on the road with [Stephen].
EO: That part alone is an amazing story. Has the cancer been in remission since then? Are you cancer-free or you still battling it?
SG: Cancer-free as of the last check-up in March. You have a five year thing where within five years the doctors say you have a higher percentage of getting the cancer back. I'm in year three, and so I'm having to go to the doctor every six months. When I first started driving, I had to be home for doctor appointments every three months.
EO: If I'm understanding you correctly, the cancer experience caused you to consider expediting as a way for you and Stephen to be able to spend more time together--is that how you saw it?
SG: Yes, because, at the time, if I was lucky, he managed to get himself in a regional area, I'd probably see him once a month. Otherwise, I would have probably only see him every two months. So I was basically holding down the house--or the fort as I call it--doing all that stuff by myself and he would pop in every so often for two or three days. The reason for me to get into expediting was to spend more time together.
EO: The truck that you originally bought when Stephen started driving--is that the truck that you operate now?
SG: No. We traded that truck in and got a brand new, at the time, 2016 Freightliner Cascadia with a Bolt custom sleeper on it. The truck that we originally bought was a 2008 Freightliner with a factory sleeper.
EO: Did you buy a used truck at first because you could get it at a price point where it made the most financial sense at that time?
SG: That is correct, and Stephen wasn't sure that he wanted to do it. We didn't want to have a huge layout of money if he decided he didn't like expediting.
EO: From your perspective, why did you choose expediting versus over-the-road? Is it because of the size of the truck or other factors that lead you to go the expediting route?
SG: We went the expediting route because of the variety. Over-the-road trucking is mostly about driving a specific route, and with expediting if you went to the same place more than once it was kind of a rare occasion. We wanted to see different parts of the country--and that's what expediting allows us to do.
EO: Have you experienced any challenges unique to being a woman in expediting?
SG: We've been to various mechanic shops, and I've noticed that some mechanics--because I'm a woman--don't believe what I'm saying. It's the same stereotype that you get as a woman pretty much everywhere that you go in a male-dominated field. I had this same problem when I was a systems administrator when it's the federal government, but I had earned my dues early on, so that they knew that I knew what I was talking about.
EO: How do you counteract those stereotypes now?
SG: Well, if there's something wrong with the truck I can basically go in and point to the part that I think needs to be replaced, based on what I'm hearing or experiencing. Even though I'm not as much of an expert in parts of a truck as I was in the computer business, it's still a machine. So, mechanically, you kind of have an idea of what might be going on.
EO: What do you like most about the expedite life?
SG: Seeing this great country is probably my favorite thing. I doubt I would be expediting if I was going solo or not teamed with Stephen.
Then there are the people that I meet along the road who are a lot friendlier to me than people that I met in the business world. People on the road seem to be more open and willing to share information with you than in my government contracting job, where it seemed like a lot of people were scared and so they didn't want to share information because "knowledge is power."
EO: What advice do you have to give to other women who are thinking about the expedite life?
SG: If you have some "gypsy" or nomad in your blood, I say go for it. You can't see this great country from 30,000 feet above on a plane. You have to actually get down and meet the people face-to-face as you're driving along or stopping at truck stops or rest areas or places like that.