Women in Expedited Trucking: Tina Evans
Meet Tina Evans. When she and her husband Tom bought their first expedite straight truck in February 2002, Tina had just stepped down from her retail management position at a shoe store and Tom had left his job at a family-owned furniture store chain about a year earlier. Today, they are fleet owners with six straight trucks in their fleet.
What led Tina and Tom to become expediters? What advice does Tina have for other women who may be considering a career in expedited trucking?
EO caught up with Tina to learn more about her story--how she got started in expediting and what she likes most about the expediter lifestyle. Here are edited highlights from our conversation.
EO: You mentioned that, before you got into expediting, Tom had started out in trucking by driving a tractor-trailer in 2001, about a year before you joined him. What led Tom to try trucking at that time?
Tina Evans: Driving was something he had done for a few summers when he was in high school. And it was something he kind of always wanted to do. Then, in his logistics role for the furniture company he worked for, he would see different drivers come in and that kind of gave him the bug.
EO: So, what led you to try expediting instead of continuing with over-the-road trucking?
TE: The more we investigated--the tractor-trailer side of the business--we found that, predominately, almost any time you have a husband and wife situation, it's very common that the companies will not let the husbands train the wives. Instead they have to be trained by a stranger, out on the road for six weeks or six months or whatever their program is. I don't know too many couples who are comfortable with that.
And while we were doing research, we had seen the straight trucks and talked to some of those guys and had found out that expediting was predominately at that time a good fit for retired husbands and wives who wanted to be in the trucks together and travel and make some money for the second stage of their life. It seemed like a fun second career. And, for us, it has been.
EO: What do you like most about the expedite lifestyle?
TE: For one, getting to travel. And because you're in a smaller vehicle, it's much easier to get around and get to some places that you can't get to in a tractor-trailer for sure.
Not too many people can say they get paid to cruise down the road and listen to their radio. It's pretty good work if you can get it. Are there challenges? Of course. Yeah, there are headaches, there's traffic and there are wrecks, but you get that in a car on your family vacation, too.
EO: Have you experienced any challenges unique to being a woman in expediting?
TE: As far as in expediting, I would say no. I would say the expediting market is really much more open than the regular trucking side in terms of women drivers.
EO: Why do you think that is?
TE: I think it's because the expediting started out as a being a niche job for retired husbands and wives. That was the target market when this business first started. And it's still that way, for the most part, especially with the price of the trucks right now. You almost can't afford to buy a new one and not have a husband and wife running it because you need the revenue.
But as far as the dark side, I think the only challenges we really see is sometimes shippers and receivers. They sometimes treat the girls a little different than they do the men.
I once had a yard guy stop me three different times. It may have even been three different yard guys; I don't know. But I waited, went through the gate, was assigned my dock, and as I'm trying to back in, everyone wanted to stop me and ask if I was new. Or, they wanted to know if I knew if I was in the right place where I was supposed to be. It just almost got to the point it was ridiculous.
You kind of go to the same places all the time, and if they're a regular bad actor, then we adjusted our shifts accordingly so that the guy would come up on my husband's shift. They wouldn't harass him like they would harass me, so we just let him do that.
EO: What advice do you have to give to other women thinking about entering the expedite life?
TE: I think you should definitely start by hiring on with a fleet owner and determine whether or not you're going to like the lifestyle. Some people think they want that lifestyle and then they're homesick or can't keep up. We had one or two drivers that thought they really wanted to do expediting, but then they got out there and about six weeks in, they go, "Man, this is just not going to be for me. I feel like I'm missing what's going on at home."
You should do a trial run before making the commitment of buying a truck. Make sure that you're gonna really like the lifestyle and get some experience as to where the loads go and what the freight rates are.
I think back to how clueless we were when we bought a truck and took to the road. It's almost laughable at this point. We think, "Gosh. We were so green." We know so much more now. But we had guidance from my older brother. He and his wife have been on the road for 15 years by the point we were thinking about getting into the business. They sort of mentored us along, giving us little tips and tricks. So, that's probably the most important thing: get with a good fleet owner who wants to help you learn the business and show you the ropes.
You can make it as an expediter. We did. And I'm sure anyone can do it. But it would be a lot better to have have someone help you before you make that big investment.