In The News
Women in Expedited Trucking: Heather Hutchens
Meet Heather Hutchens from Waco, Texas. You might recognize Heather and her husband Jason from their ”Our Life on the Road” video blog on ExpeditersOnline.com.
Before they got into expedited trucking as team drivers for a fleet owner in January 2013, Heather had just left her 22-year career as an optician. This past spring, they took the plunge, making the transition from drivers to owner-operators leased on to Landstar.
What led Heather and Jason to become expediters? Why did they make the transition from drivers to owner-operators? And what advice does Heather have for other women who may be considering a career in expedited trucking?
EO recently spoke with Heather 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: At the time you and Jason decided to get into expedited trucking, you had a secure job with a steady paycheck. What gave you the courage to leave that security to start a whole new career in expediting?
Heather Hutchens: For one thing, I've always wanted to travel. And about a year or so before we decided to go into expediting, Jason and I took two weeks off for a road trip to the coast of California and back to Texas. That was the most awesome time for us. So, when Jason started approaching me about doing this expedite thing, he's like, "Look, we can go do this travel and get paid to do it." I was like, "Yeah, that would be really interesting."
Of course, I was nervous at first, but I trusted him because he had knowledge in the transportation industry. And I was just fed up--we were both fed up with nine-to-five jobs, going from paycheck to paycheck to pay for our big house and cars. We just wanted a change.
EO: What kind of work was Jason doing at that time?
HH: Jason had been at a local courier company for 12 years, working his way up from driver, to dispatch, to operations manager. This gave him a general idea of what expediting was like on a local scale.
EO: So was it Jason’s experience with the courier company that led you guys to consider expedited trucking?
HH: Yes, it was that experience. And Jason was the one who actually did all the research to find out about expediting. He came across ExpeditersOnline and that’s where he found Dave Corfman, the fleet owner we drove for before we bought our truck. Jason would read Dave’s replies to people’s posts on EO. Then one day he saw that Dave had an ad for drivers, and Jason was like, "Hey, I know this is a good owner; we should go for this."
EO: You drove for a fleet owner for about four years. So, what led you to take that next step to buy your own truck and become owner-operators?
HH: Actually, buying our own truck was our goal from the beginning. We wanted to be on our own and independent. And we probably would have done it sooner, but we were with such a good owner, we didn't want to leave.
In fact, we had ordered a truck a year before and then got cold feet. We were like, "No, let's wait a little longer." So, we made it another year, but then we thought, "You know what? If we don't do this now, we're never going to do it. Let's just do it."
We really wanted to make sure that we knew what we were doing and what we were getting into before we just jumped into buying a truck.
EO: Now that you're a few months into being owner-operators, how do you feel about it? Do you feel that the expectations that you have about owning a truck are being met?
HH: Oh yeah, I think our expectations have actually been exceeded. I think we both feel like we should've done it a lot sooner. Why did we wait so long? But everybody's got to do something on their own time, and I think we did it at the time that was right for us. We love it.
EO: Have you experienced any challenges unique to being a woman in expediting?
HH: No, not that I can think of. In fact, I feel like when I go into shippers, I get nicer treatment than even Jason does, where they’re often more helpful to me. But I've only been in this industry for four and half years. I'm sure a lot has changed over the years.
EO: What do you like most about the expedite life?
HH: I like that Jason and I can be together and we get to travel and see the country and get paid to do it.
EO: What advice do you have to give to other women thinking about the expedite life?
HH: The main thing I would say is give it time to get your confidence. If they've never done [expedited trucking] before, it can be an adjustment. But don’t give up. It will get easier.
EO: When you say, "Give it time," what amount of time are you thinking?
HH: I would say a good three to six months or even a year. It just takes time to adapt. Expediting is a lifestyle, not a job. It's really a lifestyle that you are living out there on the road. You have to have that in mind because it’s a lot different from being at home all the time and having a normal job. Everybody is going to be different as far as how long it's going to take for them to adapt to the new lifestyle.
Each woman spotlighted in “Women in Expediting” will receive a one year membership to the Women In Trucking Association, a non-profit organization representing all women employed within the trucking industry. For information visit www.womenintrucking.org.