Jeff Tacker, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President with Expediter Services
There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding ES’s 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge. Since January of this year, the initiative has helped women start 50 new, small businesses and the trend is building to meet the the 150 goal in the very near future. Spotlight News sits down with Jeff Tacker, Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President with Expediter Services to get the latest news and to learn even more about the success of the challenge.
How can I qualify for your truck ownership programs and how does your financing work?
First of all, I want you to know that a major focus of our company and the 150 Business Challenge collaboration with the Women In Trucking Association is to provide people the opportunity to enter the trucking industry and to find success by building their own small businesses. Specifically, when we are talking about the 150 Business Challenge, it has been designed primarily to create ownership opportunities for women seeking to become owner-operators. As we launched this specific program, the majority of the interest we have seen has come from professional drivers who already hold a CDL.
When looking at all the opportunities that ES offers, the answer as to how can I qualify for truck ownership programs covers a lot of territory. ES has a Path To Ownership program that is set up to work with professional drivers in a number of ways. We provide opportunities that allow professional drivers to make sure that you like the motor carrier, and that you like us. We also want you to be comfortable with the equipment type, as we offer options with either tractors or straight trucks with DOT-approved sleepers for OTR applications. Our approach allows the participants in the 150 Woman-Owned Business Challenge to get to know the motor carriers in our network and to experience the range of discounts, services and support ES provides the members of our community. ES has programs to give you the opportunity to gain first hand experience while working toward truck ownership. We allow you to try it before you buy it. For professional drivers looking to move into truck ownership, ES provides the chance to get a feel for the lifestyle of being out on the road and working with a leading carrier. On the flip side, this approach allows ES the opportunity to get a sense of your attitude, aptitude and work ethic – all of which serve as significant factors in our decision-making process for financing small businesses and offering the best path to truck ownership.
When it comes to financing, we are a very unique company. We are a relationship lender, and we make our decisions based on someone’s attitude, their aptitude and their work ethic, in addition to their work history with specific motor carriers. We’re not concerned with a credit score. We are concerned with the person who is behind the credit score.
Let’s face it, at times bad things can happen to good people and sometimes their circumstances are out of their control. When their credit rating isn’t optimal, it limits their choices when it comes to financing a truck and they often turn to a lease-purchase agreement seeking pseudo-truck ownership. We also work with a lot of people whose first try at truck ownership was through a lease-purchase or similar type offering. We know that a lease-purchase can put people in a position with an extremely high hill to climb and with a great deal of weight on their back. Most times, being in a lease-purchase means that people are placed in a position where they can never get over the crest of the mountain and find success in order to do better for themselves and their families.
We have found that you can get a really good window on how someone’s small business will succeed or not based on their work history and their work ethic. The simple fact is that good people like to work hard and be successful. But we all know that it rains on the just and the unjust. We live in a world where it seems like we are all just one or two phone calls away from something taking place that could put us in a position where we might not be able to obtain traditional financing.
Now, I want everyone to understand that, while we do use traditional financing instruments, we have chosen to be a relationship lender. For instance, our credit box is different. We don’t place weight on a credit score as a traditional lender does. We buy into the person and we find out who they really are.
The goal of our company has always been to help generate small businesses and service those small businesses. We are an equipment and financial services provider. What we have done is to align ourselves with independent contract drivers, owner-operators and fleet owners. With ES, you will Never Stand Alone!
We have set our program up to be a win-win-win: To be a win for the independent contractor, to be a win for the motor carrier and to be a win for us. All of this in our view creates a big win for the whole industry. This is especially true for anyone who is in a segment, or a class that needs help overcoming obstacles and needs an opportunity to build a business – an opportunity that, in many cases, might not be available through traditional approaches. And that speaks, in part, to what we are doing through the 150 Business Challenge.
At the end of the day, a central goal of our company and the programs we offer is to help people and to service their needs. We want to bring that forth in everything that we do. Our success as a company is directly dependent on the success of the contractors and their small businesses within the ES Community. We have intentionally chosen to align ourselves with the small business owners in the ES Community in ways that will place them in the best position for success within the directions that they have chosen.
The doors of opportunity are always open at ES. If you want to start your own small business in the trucking industry, we can not only help you find the equipment and financing that you need to get started, but we will walk with you every step of the way and provide the kind of support you’ll need to achieve success.
To learn more about program qualifications and financing with ES, please click here.
What is the difference between the truck ownership programs at ES and the other truck ownership programs in the market, including typical lease-purchase programs?
Let me start by saying that the difference is as great as night and day between what people will experience with our programs that offer true truck ownership and the other programs available in the market today. This is particularly true when you compare our truck ownership programs to similar programs in the market. And while the lease-purchase has become familiar across the industry, there are now several other roads that you can take to truck ownership.
At ES, we are continually studying what’s taking place in the new and used truck markets, and we have been able to use our industry knowledge and our experience in building relationships with some of the leading equipment manufacturers in trucking. As a result, we are able to offer professional drivers innovative equipment ownership opportunities. These opportunities afford a lower overall operational cost when compared to other options available in the market today.
In the 150 Business Challenge initiative, you’ll have competitive, market-rate financing with a defined payment schedule over a specified term and you’ll own the truck. (Typically, the participants in the 150 Business Challenge are setting up their payment schedules mainly on a four-year or five-year term).
In a typical lease-purchase, your payments could be extended over an extremely long period of time at high rates and with fees that drive up the total cost of ownership. For those people who can keep up with the payment schedule and make any balloon payments that may exist at the end of the lease, they’ll end up with an older piece of equipment, typically with high miles, with higher repair costs and increased fuel consumption.
We will quite often have conversations with people who are taking a look at the programs ES offers and the other truck ownership programs that are available in today’s market. One of the key points we always stress during these discussions is the need to examine the total cost of ownership. As an owner-operator, you are not just buying or financing a truck. You are running a business, and you have to look at the total cost of what it will take to own the key operational element of your trucking business. Of course, that’s your truck, and that brings us back to the total cost of ownership. One of the things we stress with professional drivers examining our programs at ES is that it’s important to keep in mind that the total cost of ownership goes well beyond the amount of your weekly truck payment. The total cost of ownership involves looking at what it will cost you over the life of the loan. Will you have increased payment costs and higher fees over the life of the loan? How long is the term? Is it an extended period of time? Over the life of the loan, will you see a decrease in the miles per gallon with your truck? Have you budgeted for increased repair and maintenance costs that come with older higher-mileage equipment?
At ES, we have built our ownership programs, our support systems and vendor network along with our ES community with a focus on the total cost of ownership – always working to put the participants in a position where they can best leverage the investment in the truck while maximizing the profitability for their small business.
In addition to the advantages ES offers with financing and equipment, the 150 Business Challenge (and all our ownership programs) offers the kind of business and operational support, as well as network discounts, that are unique to the trucking industry. We are placing the participants with some of the best carriers. We spend time with those carriers to make sure that their operations are set up to provide the best opportunity to achieve consistent profitability in running their businesses. ES is not a motor carrier. The participants in our programs run under the authority of the individual motor carriers within the ES Community. For the 150 Business Challenge, we are proud to be working with Forward Air and Panther Premium Logistics, a Service of Arc Best. As members of our community work with the carriers on an operational level, we are able to support those contractors with tools, benefits and advantages. Each member has access to the discounts in our fuel network, to insurance programs and to maintenance resources as well as to a range of business support and back-office functions.
Here’s one of the most important points you should know about the efforts of ES to create ownership opportunities for professional drivers. We are focused on the success of the participants in the program. We can’t be successful unless you are successful. The bottom line is that we focus on your bottom line.
To learn more about the positive difference you can experience with the truck ownership programs available through ES, please click here.
What types of equipment does ES have available? Can I trade my old truck for a new truck?
At ES, we work with Class 8 tractors and straight trucks. The equipment is state-of-the-art, and we work with the leading brand names in the industry. We have established a strong working relationship with several of the leading truck dealers in the country, providing us with a consistent pipeline of equipment available for those joining our community. All the equipment available in our truck ownership programs, including the 150 Business Challenge, features some of the most competitive pricing found in the market today.
We do have a process in place to work with trade trucks through the dealer network in our ES Community. When it comes to trading trucks, there are a number of factors involved that must be considered. We will be glad to discuss those with you when you call us.
For the 150 Business Challenge, as well as the other ownership programs available through ES, we are able to offer new Class 8 tractors featuring automatic transmissions and APUs. We also have straight trucks. ES is able to offer individuals their choice between brand-new tractors or late-model, low-mileage straight trucks.
Our expediter-specific equipment offers access to factory and custom sleepers, including those designed to specialize in dry-freight or refrigerated loads. As I mentioned earlier, the trucks available from the ES Network are backed with a maintenance support program.
Part of the ongoing work at the ES Network is our dedication to testing equipment. We are continually evaluating the specifications of the trucks. By looking at what’s available and what’s possible from an equipment standpoint, we can offer you options that best fit the segment of the industry where you choose to operate.
And don’t forget, The 150 Woman-Owned Business Challenge is just one of many opportunities ES offers. We can help everyone, whether you’re a driver wanting to become an owner, an owner wanting to start a fleet or a fleet owner looking to grow your fleet.
To learn more about the equipment options available through ES, please click here.
When Ernest and Chree Shunn found out that the factory where they had worked for thirty years was closing, they knew they had to find a new path forward in order to make a living. Their solution? Trucking, specifically Expediting!
Follow along as Spotlight News details how they took ES’s PTO (Path to Ownership) to get their MBA (Much Better Alternative) to truck finance. Their path followed in the footsteps of Patrick Lee and Eric Hyfield, Fleet Owners who started their careers at ES as Contract Drivers and had taken the Path to Ownership years ago to become successful fleet owners.
What led you to transportation after the loss of a thirty-year career in manufacturing?
Ernest and I had worked for a company that manufactured hand tools. Things had been slow for a while and one day, they decided that the plant would relocate to China. That was in 2015. Fortunately for us, the company had a severance package that included a two-year jobs training program that would pay for any type of re-training we chose.
We had done a lot of research about what we wanted to do and trucking interested us very much. We enrolled in trucking school and got our CDL and began looking for a way to get started. We had heard a lot of good things about FedEx and contacted them. Our goal from the start was to become owners.
After choosing FedEx as your carrier, what was the next step?
We spoke at length to our FedEx recruiter and let him know right away that we wanted to be owners. He said ownership was something that we could definitely achieve, but we would need to get some hands-on experience first, driving as Contract Drivers. That’s when he suggested we drive for a Fleet Owner to learn the ropes. The Fleet Owner(s) happened to be Patrick Lee and Eric Hyfield.
In our very first conversation, we explained to Patrick and Eric that we wanted to become owners. They were fine with this and said there was much to learn about the business and that we could start on one of their trucks. They also explained about ES and their PTO and MBA programs and how ES takes your work history into account when financing a truck. This all sounded like a wonderful opportunity and we soon began driving right a way. They were right, there was a lot to learn about the business and we jumped in with both feet — that was in March of 2016.
The interesting thing about Eric and Patrick is they started off just like us. They took ES’s Path To Ownership to become owners and that’s exactly what we are doing. We were excited to get started and prove to ourselves we have what it takes to become owners. (read Eric and Patrick’s story here)
Tell us about learning the business? Getting started was a bit of a challenge, but with Eric & Patrick we had good mentors, plus we had tools and advantages being under the ES umbrella. It wasn’t long before we started getting the hang of things and began generating a pretty good income stream. At that point we knew we had chosen the right path and we were on the road to success.
In early 2017, Eric and Patrick suggested that we attend The EGG (ES’s Group Gathering) in Southaven, Mississippi. The EGG was an event tailored for people like us who are interested in learning about the industry and the trends that shape the market. We also learned a lot about ownership opportunities. The EGG re-enforced our desire to become owners. It also gave us the opportunity to meet others within the industry and to get to know the people at ES on a personal level. We learned so much about the ES community, including the fact they have one of the broadest and deepest fuel discounts in the industry. They are also a low cost provider of insurance and provide a national program with vendors for repair and maintenance. And on top of that, we learned that ES offers operational and back office support. All of this support helps Owner Operators be successful.
Tell us about getting financed and purchasing your truck?
At the end of last year, we submitted our paperwork to Expediter Equipment Finance. We knew our earnings were good and getting even better as we gained experience. It wasn’t long before we were approved.
Patrick helped us spec our truck so we could make sure it would fit our needs for how we run our business. We wound up getting a Kenworth T-680. We operate as a Fedex Custom Critical team, so the truck is a TVAL unit. We’re thrilled with our new truck and the PTO and MBA was such a great opportunity to get into a new truck with very reasonable terms. We could not have gotten a better deal anywhere else. We also like the fact that ES took our attitude, aptitude and work history into account when it came to getting qualified.
We just picked up our truck last week and are in the process of getting the branding applied. We will be hitting the road and taking our first load within the next few days. We’re looking forward to it and appreciate all of the support we get from ES, so we Never Stand Alone.
What does the future hold for your business?
We’ve worked out a three-year plan for our business. If things go the way we anticipate it will, we could see ourselves becoming Fleet Owners. For now, we’re thrilled to be owners and will work hard to be a Success in Trucking!
A Woman in Expediting’s Perspective
What has it been like being a woman in the transportation field?
I have no other transportation experience to compare it to. But so far, my experience has been very good. I haven’t experienced anything that I would personally consider negative in my dealings with people in the industry. However, I think it has a lot to do with what you make of it. I always try to be professional and treat others accordingly.
From what I’ve seen since being on the road, I think women are definitely making headway in the industry. There are so many women now in every aspect of transportation and it’s important that woman take advantage of opportunities like ES’s 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge. (Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative here.)
How do you and Ernest balance your workload? Our balance comes from helping each other no matter what needs to be done. If I’m working on paperwork and he needs some help working on the truck, I’m always ready and able to help out. He’s the same way. We both got into this business as a team and that’s just the way we operate.
What would you tell women who are looking to start a career in transportation?
I would tell them that transportation can provide a great opportunity as a career. It’s important that you work hard and explore all of the options available, just as we did in order to become owners. This path worked very well for us.
How many times in business and in life have you met someone who knows exactly what they want — probably not that often. But every once in a while, you’ll meet people like Jackie Rocha and Michael Barclay, a husband and wife Expediting team who parlayed ES’s Path to Ownership into a Much Better Alternative to truck finance to become true owners in pursuit of the American dream.
Rocha and Barclay knew from the start that they wanted to become owners. Fortunately, they were introduced to Patrick Lee and Eric Hyfield, Fleet Owners who started their careers at ES as Contract Drivers and had taken the Path to Ownership themselves years ago to become successful fleet owners. Read more to see how all of their paths converged to become a Success in Trucking.
How did you and Michael get into the transportation business? I was a private investigator in south Florida and Mike was a mixed martial artist teacher. We both felt the need to look for better opportunities and decided to relocate to Atlanta. We both felt like we were in a rut and wanted to do something different. We had talked about getting into trucking in the past and Mike mentioned that we should seriously look into it. We began doing research online. We also visited local truck stops to get a feel for what the industry was truly all about. During that time we talked to a lot of drivers to make sure this was what we really wanted to do. We liked what we saw and heard. We knew right away that transportation was the place for us.
We were motivated to get started. I turned twenty-one on a Sunday back in March of 2015 and on Monday, we were enrolled in trucking school. After graduating and getting our CDL’s we went to work as company drivers for a large carrier and stayed with them for two years.
Tell us about finding a Fleet Owner to drive for, choosing FedEx as your carrier and working with ES? We knew after our first year as drivers that we wanted to be owners and wanted to make sure that our next move would put us in a position to reach that goal. We wanted to get as close to being owners as possible so we could live the reality and learn in order to prepare for being owners, so we began looking for opportunities as Contract Drivers.
One day I stopped and spoke with a FedEx Custom Critical team at a truck stop about their business. I asked them how they got into being owner operators with FedEx and what it was like. What they told me was exactly what we were looking for. We knew FedEx was a great carrier and that’s what we were looking for. They recommended Patrick Lee and Eric Hyfield as Fleet Owners. They also mentioned a company called ES that was great at support for contractors and owners. We were intrigued by the opportunity.
Right away we contacted Eric and Patrick. Everything the couple told us was true. These guys were great! They explained the ins and outs of being Contract Drivers and helped us get into the groove at FedEx. From the beginning, we made it clear to them that we wanted to be owners. They were cool with that and told us to be patient and to learn the business. That’s when they told us about ES and their Path to Ownership. We knew right away the PTO was our ticket to owning our own truck, but we still had to dive in, learn the business and prove to ourselves (and to ES) that we could generate the revenue and be able to handle being owners.
The truly inspiring thing about Patrick and Eric is the fact that they started out in the business just like we did as Contract Drivers at ES with FedEx as their carrier. They also took ES’s Path to Ownership and built their business from the ground up to become successful fleet owners. That says a lot about their hard work and the support offered by ES! (read Eric and Patrick’s story here)
Tell us about taking your Path to Ownership? We started by driving a used straight TVAL truck for Patrick and Eric under ES’s umbrella. We drove the truck for about a year and a half. Our numbers were good and we had learned a lot about the business and about ourselves. ES looked at our earnings, our attitude and aptitude and asked if we were ready to become owners and of course we jumped on the opportunity!
After submitting our paperwork to Expediter Equipment Finance we were soon approved. We had looked at other financing options in the past and no one even came close to ES. Other finance companies wanted much larger down payments and they didn’t take our work history into account. ES required a much smaller down payment, leaving us more cash that we could use to support our business. We wound up purchasing a 2018 Freightliner Cascadia from Stoops Freightliner.
Have you seen a difference in your bottom line since becoming owners? We’ve been in our new truck since May and we’re certainly making more revenue. One thing that definitely helps us save money is ES’s fuel card. It’s awesome! Also, ES’s support is wonderful. They’ve been there when we’ve needed them so we Never Stand Alone.
A Woman in Expediting’s Perspective
What is it like being a women in the transportation field? I’ve had a great experience as a driver and now as an owner. Everyone has always acted professionally towards me. Transportation is such a great opportunity for women. When I talk to women who have been in the business for many years, I’m just in awe at the things they have done and what they did to blaze a trail for women like me. I hope to be able to help other women as I move forward in my career. It’s also great that companies like ES help support women-owned businesses with the 150 Women-Owned business challenge.(Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative here.)
How do you and Mike balance your workload? When it comes to our business, we’re both all in. Whenever anything needs to be done, we support each other. I do just as much driving, backing and anything else as he does and we both do what it takes to be successful. I’m fortunate that we have a great relationship and respect each other.
What would you tell women who are looking to get into the transportation field? I would tell them
to jump in with both feet. There is lots of opportunity for any woman who is willing to work hard and pursue their dreams. You can be a contract driver, owner or even a fleet owner if you want to. It all depends on you!
What are your future plans? Just like Eric and Patrick, we plan on becoming Fleet Owners under ES’s support. Once we get into the position as Fleet Owners, then we can help other drivers to become owners through ES’s PTO. In a way, it’s like paying the opportunity forward. We’re looking forward to the challenge of ownership and growing a fleet in the near future.
The noted French writer, poet, aristocrat, journalist, and pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once famously said: “A goal without a plan is just a wish”. His words could have easily been the inspiration for the husband and wife transportation team of Ed and Yolanda Camacho. Their career has spanned over twenty years together and during that time, they have always had a plan to achieve their personal and business goals.
Yolanda speaks with Spotlight News and details how they modified their meticulous planning to take ES’s Path to Ownership (PTO) in order to get their MBA (Much Better Alternative) to leave behind a troublesome and expensive lease purchase agreement.
How did you get started in Transportation?
Before getting in to transportation, I was a private investigator and I did a lot of undercover work. One day on the way to a job I saw a billboard promotion that said “be your own boss” as a truck driver. Since I had just finished an investigation and was forced to take a three-month sabbatical, I thought I would look into the opportunity. That was twenty-four years ago and I’ve been in the business ever since. Ed started driving eleven years ago and we’ve been on the road together since then.
How did you choose XPO as your motor carrier?
We had been working for an owner operator who had quite a few trucks leased on with XPO. We had a lot of experience transporting pharmaceuticals and they asked if we would be interested in coming on board with them in that capacity. We worked with another owner operator in that division and that’s how we got on board with XPO. We’ve been here about two years, they’re a good carrier and have been a good fit for how we run our business.
Tell us about your lease purchase experience?
We had been with XPO for about a year, driving as contractors for an owner operator. We were in the process of moving to another owner operator when the opportunity to move into a lease purchase came along. The truck wasn’t new (it was a 2016) and soon it began to have maintenance issues. We had problems with the motor, the generator and several other major components. We began spending a lot of money on getting the truck up-to-par.
We had established a maintenance account, but it was so much trouble attempting to communicate with the lease company trying to get out our funds to fix the truck, we wound up paying for most of the repairs out of pocket. It was either pay for it our selves or take a financial hit due to the truck being down for an undetermined amount of time. The lease company also bragged about having a working relationship with a number of vendors that would save us money and perform repairs, but that never happened either. So, we bit the bullet and did what we had to do to keep our truck and our business going. The lease company even gave us a hard time about that too, because they said the repairs weren’t “up to their specs”, even though I took the truck to the dealer for repairs and kept all oft he receipts as proof. Dealing with them was a hassle from the get go.
Looking back on that experience makes us realize just how bad being in a lease purchase actually is. There are a number of things that just don’t add up, chief among them is the fact that you pay a LOT of money to lease the truck and there’s truly no way to beneficially pay off the lease. If we ever did pay it off, the truck would have wound up costing us at least twice what it is worth. And don’t get me started about maintenance on a used truck that you know absolutely nothing about.Add to that the lease company kept the money that we set aside in our maintenance escrow account. There was even a “buy out clause” that stated the lease company would buy your truck for “fair market value” — which wasn’t much! Really, the only thing that does add up with a lease purchase is the money you have to spend to be in one of them. It totally isn’t worth it!
How did you hear about ES and the Path to Ownership and Much Better Alternative to truck finance? We’re a planning family and feel its important to be organized in order to have a successful business. The expenditures on maintenance on our lease purchase truck didn’t allow us the ability to save as much money as we wanted in order to put a down payment on a truck, which left us looking at different financial options.
I spoke with another team who is with XPO that also had a bad experience with a lease purchase agreement. Their XPO recruiter had told them about options for buying a truck and they had chosen Expediter Services because of their PTO and MBA programs. It sounded like just the kind of opportunity we were looking for. We approached our XPO recruiter about financial options available in the market and we also chose ES. We were intrigued about ES taking our work history, attitude and aptitude into account when it came to getting financed. We had never heard of anything like that before, so we gave them a call.
Tell us about getting financed and purchasing your new truck?
Our first contact was Danny Vernon, Expediter Truck Sales Manager. We told him about our desire to become true owners. He gave us a lot of good information about the program and explained how it worked. We told him about the kind of truck we wanted and he found us a brand new Volvo 860. It’s everything we were looking for. It has a terrific sleeper with lots of room and a big refrigerator, which is nice because we prepare almost all of our own meals. The truck also is equipped with a ThermoKing APU, which helps us save on fuel. It has a great turning radius and you can tell it was built for a team. We love it!
Once our truck was selected, we were placed in contact with Steve Kochensparger at Expediter Equipment Finance. We submitted our paperwork and in a short amount of time we were approved. The entire process was really pretty easy and both Steve and Danny always kept us up-to-date on the status of the transaction. They were also patient and helpful because we had tons of questions about the truck, financing and the PTO and MBA programs. Everything they told us was spot on. Everyone was upfront and easy to communicate with, which was refreshing after our lease purchase experience.
When everything was in order, we made the trip to ES’s offices and picked it up. We’ve been in our truck since July 23rd and things are going well. The fuel economy is very good and there have been no maintenance issues. The ES fuel card is wonderful and positively effects our bottom line. Also, our relationship with the ES support staff is very good. These guys really know how to service us, so we Never Stand Alone.
What are the future plans for your business?
We plan on driving this truck and generating revenue for our business. At some point we want to purchase another truck with a custom sleeper and possibly build a fleet. We’re just going to work our plan and see where it takes us.
A Woman in Expediting’s Perspective
What is it like being a woman in the transportation field? When I first started twenty-four years ago, there weren’t even showers for women. Many times I had to wait until all of the men had left the shower area and it was awkward. But today many things have changed. Women are welcomed at truck stops and there are facilities for us.
As far as the opportunities for women in transportation are concerned, there are more now than ever before. I think its great that ES is a supporter of Women in Trucking and the 150 Women-Owned business challenge. The fact that fifty women have taken advantage of this opportunity so far this year is awesome! I would encourage any woman looking to create her own business to look into transportation. I have six kids and seven grand children. We have been able to make a good life for our family and support them, its’ been a blessing for us. It can be a great career with the proper planning and hard work. (Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative here.)
What advice would you give women looking to get into trucking?
I would tell them to do your homework, make a plan and work that plan. There are great opportunities in this business. It also helps to have the right person as your business partner. In my case, my business partner is my husband and we work wonderfully together. We split our tasks fifty-fifty and truly work as a team.
Also, I would tell women (or anyone else who wants to drive and own a truck), to have a plan for how you want to achieve your goals. It has worked for us and we’ve had a great career in the business. Now we’re planning for even greater Success inTrucking as true owners.
The desire to own your own transportation business can be a compelling proposition. You need a singular focus, determination and the right opportunity to be a Success In Trucking. Kelsey Gagnon and her husband/driving partner Bryan James left their jobs in the hospitality industry to pursue their dream of owning their own business and determining their own future. Their quest led them to ES’s Path to Ownership (PTO), where they got their MBA (Much Better Alternative) to truck finance. Their path was successful and something ES does every day!
What made you want to get into transportation?
Bryan actually started in transportation before I did. He drove for another company for about nine months then he found an Owner Operator who was with FedEx Custom Critical and began working and driving with him. He did this for about a year to get to know the business. That’s when I got my license so we could work together — he trained me, too. We had both been in the hospitality industry and wanted something more. We did research into transportation and it looked like a field with a lot of opportunity, so we decided to go for it.
What made you and Bryan want to choose FedEx as your carrier?
Bryan had seen FedEx trucks on the road for years and was aware of them. We also did research on motor carriers to find which one we wanted to work with because our ultimate goal was to own our own truck and become Owner Operators. When he found an Owner Operator to work with it really helped seal the deal. We’ve been with FedEx now for just over two years. They’re a great company and we’re really happy here.
How did you find ES and our Path to Ownership and the Much Better Alternative to truck finance? Since our goal was to become Owner Operators, we did a lot of research about the best and most efficient way to become owners. We found the ES website and got a lot of good information about their PTO and MBA programs. We also spoke to some people who had taken the Path to Ownership and had heard good things about it. After doing a lot of due diligence, no other opportunity out there spoke to us like ES did.
We also spoke with our recruiter at Fedex about what choices were available to us. He told us of several options and we chose the best one, which was ES. The next step was to call ES to get more information and the rest as they say is history.
To learn even more, we attended the EGG (ES’s Group Gathering) in Southaven, Mississippi in April. They had a number of industry experts there explaining about the state of the freight market, financing and many other opportunities available through ES. We found this quite helpful and I would recommend that anyone looking to get in the business or whose interested in becoming an owner should attend the EGG.
Tell us about the process of taking the Path to Ownership and getting your Much Better Alternative to truck finance?
Of course at the time we didn’t own a truck. The Service Coordinator we spoke to at ES told us the first phase of starting our business is to drive one of their trucks (as independent contract drivers) in order to establish our ability to drive and earn the kind of numbers to qualify to own our own truck. We thought this was such a unique approach and a great opportunity. We started driving right away — that was in January of this year. Six months later our fleet manager called to say that our revenue numbers were good and asked if we were ready to begin our Path to Ownership. We were thrilled and told her yes! We submitted our paperwork to Expediter Equipment Finance and within a short amount of time, we were approved.
The next step was getting in touch with Danny Vernon at Expediter Truck Sales. For our first truck, we decided to purchase a straight truck directly from the ES fleet. Going the pre-owned route represented a great value proposition and was the right move for us. We were able to purchase a low mileage 2015 Freightliner Cascadia ST dry unit at a much-reduced price over a new one. There are still plenty of miles left on this truck and we intend to get the most out of it. The truck also has a custom sleeper and an APU, which helps us save on fuel. The entire buying process was simple. It’s really true what they say about ES taking your work history and earning potential into account when it comes to getting approved. We’re proof of that! It was a great opportunity to show our aptitude, attitude and work ethic to become approved to purchase our own truck.
What is it like being owners?
Being owners is just what we thought it would be. This isn’t something we decided to do overnight. There was a lot of research, planning and work involved in becoming owners. Our earning potential is increased and so are our responsibilities. We went into this opportunity with our eyes open and its paying off. We’re enjoying every minute of it.
Even though we have greater responsibilities with our business, we still have support from ES so we Never Stand Alone. When we have questions or problems, ES is a phone call or fax away. They’re really good about communicating with us and it means a lot to have them there when needed. We’ve also found out that we’re saving money with the ES fuel card and their insurance discounts, which is nice.
What are the future plans for your business?
We’ve been in our own truck for about two months now and it’s given us time to see how our business is developing. We have plans to add another truck and begin building a fleet in the near future. With hard work and support from ES, we’re confident that we can do this in a reasonable amount of time.
A Woman in Expediting’s Perspective
Tell us about your experience as a woman in transportation? Since this is my first experience in the transportation field (having come from the hospitality industry), I have nothing to compare it to. But it’s been a very positive experience. I’ve never had any issues with anyone within the industry. I have a lot of people (men and women) asking my opinion about certain aspects of the business. I’m always happy to help and the longer I’m in transportation, the more help I can be to people who may be starting out.
What advice would you give to women looking to get into the transportation field? I would tell them to do their research. There are so many opportunities in this business and they can make a good living. It also helps to have a good partner. It also helps to have a support team like ES behind you, too.