There are times in life when the road ahead is uncertain and circumstances beyond your control converge to steer your career and your income into a ditch. And that’s just where Cody Settles and his wife Brandi found themselves during the Blue Bell ice cream recall of 2015.
“I worked for Blue Bell as a driver when the big product recall hit,” said Cody. “The company was in trouble and we were forced to pick up millions of units of ice cream from stores. No one really knew where the whole thing was going. We just knew that it wasn’t going to be good!”
As a result, Cody found himself between the proverbial rock and a hard place. “Things got so bad, my territorial manager even went out and bought his own truck, and began driving for Panther Expedited Services as a hedge against losing his job; which eventually did happen. And as it turned out, I was the only driver in my territory to get laid off. He kept telling me he thought Blue Bell would hire me back, but I knew in my heart, I had to move on and find something else. That’s when my ex-manager told me his new truck was working out well and Expediting was where I needed to be. Right away, Brandi went to get her CDL and we soon made a call that would start us out on the road to Expediting success.”
Cody didn’t know it at the time, but he and Brandi’s life was about to change for the positive with one phone call to Expediter Services. “Since my manager had such good luck with Panther, I contacted them and explained my situation and future goals. Based on my current needs and future plans (possible truck ownership), they referred me straight away to Expediter Services — that was in March of this year. The first person I spoke to was Kim Smith. She was extremely helpful and got us into a 2014 Cascadia from ES’s fleet — and let me tell you, this truck is nice! We then went through Panther’s orientation and hit the road.”
“Since we started at Expediter Services, signed on with Panther as our carrier, we’re doing very well. The loads are steady, helping us generate a good and stable income,” said Cody. “We’re staying really busy and it motivates us to stay on the road as much as we can. We love it! The amount of support we get from the people at ES is extremely helpful, too. When we have questions, Bobby Gardner is just a phone call away. When you’re new to the Expediting business, it’s great to have someone to answer questions and help you no matter what. I would also like to give a shout out to Sue Robinson and Debbie Acker in back office support who make sure our settlements are always on-time and accurate. When ES says you Never Stand Alone, they really mean it.”
When asked about their plans for the future, Cody and Brandi both agreed that they are in a good place. “Maybe at some point we’ll buy our own truck. But right now, we’re really enjoying where we are right now. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be able to make a good living doing what we love, and Expediter Services plays a big part in our success.”
Have you ever noticed that people who are in the Expediting business love what they do? They have a real passion for their work, their equipment and the road. But what is it that brings people into Expediting from over-the-road or other types of trucking? For Howard and Sylvia Crabtree, Expediting presented an opportunity for a better quality of life, a better quality of customers and more earning potential.
“Howard and I have been driving and business partners in trucking for over fifteen years. For ten years, we drove tractor trailers as over-the-road truckers. We became interested in Expediting by talking to people in the business. After doing some research, we signed on with Panther as an Expediting team. From day one we knew we had made the right decision. We were able to pick up more loads and make more money. The lifestyle of Expediting is also a step up from what we had. We love it! I can’t imagine us doing any other kind of trucking,” said Sylvia.
The Crabtree’s foray into Expediting started off well, but as in any business, there are always hurdles to over come. “The only drawback to starting our Expediting business was our truck, said Sylvia. “From our previous trucking job, we were still driving a tractor trailer. The sleeper was really small and was a uncomfortable for the both of us. We always knew that a straight truck was in our future. In July, we made the decision that we had to get a straight truck and called Expediter Truck Sales. We spoke with Danny Vernon and told him what we wanted. He found us a truck right away. We actually bought the truck sight unseen, never seeing it until the day we picked it up. We put a lot of trust in Expediter Truck Sales and they really came through for us. Our new truck, a 2014 Cascadia has a 100-inch Bolt custom sleeper. It’s like moving from a cracker box to a mansion! We’ve been in the truck for a couple of weeks now and the sheer size of it is taking some getting used to, but we’ll manage,” said Sylvia, laughingly.
She explained that the buying process was simple, as well. “Once ETS found us a truck, we were soon in touch with Expediter Equipment Finance. The whole process was quick and easy. It really is convenient the way Expediter Services does things, everything is under one roof. It’s just so convenient. I don’t know why anyone would buy a truck any other way.” When asked if another truck was in their future, Sylvia was quick to point out that she and Howard are happy right where they are. “We’ve been driving together for a long time and we’re in a good place in our business and in our lives. We’re content to stay with our one truck. But for anyone looking to grow and expand, ES is a good way to make that happen.”
We also asked Sylvia about her experience being a woman in Expediting. “My role within the team involves doing a lot of driving. Our new straight truck makes this so much easier than maneuvering our eighteen wheeler. I actually enjoy driving it! As for being a women in this industry, some people are shocked that I can handle driving a truck and manage such a business, but they respect me, especially when they find out how long I’ve been doing it. I would recommend Expediting to any woman looking for a good career. I love it and can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Expediting is a fast moving and dynamic business. It takes skill, talent and the right team to navigate the ups and downs of the road ahead. In this issue of Spotlight News, we follow Robert Burrow and Eliza Zepeda as they steer their way through the process of starting their business, taking detours and upgrading equipment — with help from Expediter Services. (Read their earlier story here) We also get insights from Eliza about being a Woman in Expediting.
Robert’s Take on Expediting and Upgrading Equipment
“Our journey into Expediting happened at the end of 2012,” said Burrow. “I had been driving a tractor trailer at FedEx Express and someone mentioned to me about driving a straight truck for FedEx Custom Critical. It sounded interesting, so I looked into it. By January of 2013, I was enrolled in the Custom Critical classes in Ohio with my driving partner Eliza Zepeda.”
Robert and Eliza’s venture into Expediting looked promising, but they still had questions about getting started. That’s when they found Expediter Services. “After completing FedEx Custom Critical’s program, we still were unsure about the best course of action to get started. I started doing research online and found Expediter Services. My first contact was Jeff Tacker. I explained that we were new in the business, and that we had a lot to learn in order to know if Expediting was even right for us. Jeff suggested that we start out as contract drivers in ES’s fleet. He explained this would help us learn about the business and gain experience, with help from ES’s Contract Driver Support Services.”
It didn’t take long for Robert and Eliza to settle into their new business as they were soon in the position to make the decision to own their own truck. “By October of 2013, we were ready to buy our own straight truck. We chose a 2008 Kenworth T660 from ES’s fleet. We drove it for a few years and now we’re ready to upgrade. But I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself,” said Burrow. “About six months ago, we took a slight detour with our business. We took a position away from Expediter Services, and began driving for Landstar Express America. As it turned out, we did not get the loads we needed. We realized that we were missing the support provided by Expediter Services. I called ES Fleet Manager Patrick Bertrand. We were welcomed back with open arms. Long-story-short, we’re back with ES, signed on with FedEx Custom Critical as our carrier and we’re getting into a brand new truck from Stoops with a custom Bolt sleeper. Expediter Services has even gone the extra step to let us drive a truck from their fleet until our new truck is ready. I tell you, their support is tremendous. I’m glad we’re back! This is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle.
Eliza’s Take on Women in Expediting
“It’s a real privilege to add my two cents about being a Woman in Expediting,” says Zepeda. ” My role is being the head driver for our team. My background started as a school bus driver. I just love the challenge of driving through twisting and turning city streets. Robert does much of the navigating, as I easily get motion sickness reading a map. He’s a great driving and business partner. He’s good with paperwork and keeping up with truck maintenance.”Eliza is no shrinking violet when it comes to letting people know that she knows her way around a straight truck. “Many people think Robert and I are married, but we’re not. We’re just really good friends who saw a business opportunity and went for it. Some people question whether I’m capable of driving a straight truck because I’m a woman, and a petite one at that, but once they find out about my years of experience, they have respect for what I do.”
When asked about getting a new truck, Eliza was quick to point out that she’s thrilled about the opportunities ahead. “Oh, I’m just so excited about getting a new truck. I get really emotional about it because this is our business and we’re looking forward to getting back on the road in a new rig. We’re so grateful for Expediter Services for helping us keep running and furthering our business plans. I advise any woman (or man) who is looking to getting into Expediting to make ES their first call.”
Welcome back to Spotlight News as we continue our online series Women in Expediting. You may have noticed from earlier stories, women are making great strides in all areas of Expediting and taking on roles traditionally held by men. They’re not merely taking on these roles, they are exceeding as drivers, owners and managers, while complimenting the team environment at the same time. Their talents are needed and welcomed in the industry.
We introduce Joy Franklin, a nurse who, along with her boyfriend and business partner Alvin Shipp, decided that owning their own straight truck would be a great investment in their future. They recently purchased a 2012 Cascadia dry unit and hit the road this past July.
SLN: What brought you to Expediting?
My boyfriend, Alvin Shipp and I had been talking about starting a business together for quite a while. Since I’m a nurse, one of our goals is to open an assisted living facility sometime in the future. We looked at several different businesses to provide the income to help us make this happen. Alvin was already a contract driver with Expediter Services, signed on with Panther. I approached him with the idea of truck ownership and he thought being owners would be a great opportunity.
SLN: Tell us about the process of buying a truck?
I did a lot of research online and chose Expediter Truck Sales. I filled out a contact form, telling them what my goals were and that I was interested in buying a truck. Danny Vernon, ETS Truck Sales Manager called me back the next day. We spent time discussing what I wanted to do. He was able to find the right truck for us, a 2012 Cascadia from ES’s fleet. He soon put us in touch with Steve Kochensparger at Expediter Equipment Finance. The process was straight forward and happened pretty fast. In a short time, we had our truck and it was on the road making money.
SLN: As a woman, what was it like going through the process of buying a truck at Expediter Truck Sales?
I have to say, the experience was really good. I don’t feel like they treated me differently in any way. The buying and financing process could not have gone more smoothly. I was treated with respect throughout the entire transaction.
SLN: Tell us about the the truck you purchased and how you plan on running your business?
We felt since this was our first truck, it made more sense to go with a little older unit. We got a good deal, which included an extended warranty, providing us with a level of comfort as we get used to being business owners. The truck itself is incredible. The interior is like new — that’s what really sold me. Even though Alvin and his driving partner will actually be spending time in the truck, I was impressed with the accommodations.
My role as truck owner will be to manage the finances and to make sure Alvin and his driving partner have what they need while they’re out there on the road. Also, I just learned how to use T-Check and I’m excited about that! It’s like running a real business. I know there’s more to learn, but with Expediter Services support, I’m confident that I can be up to speed quickly.
SLN: Since you’re a woman, and a nurse, how do people react when they find out that you’re in the Expediting business?
When people find out I’m in the trucking business they always ask me how I was able to do it. There is that novelty about being a women, but for the most part they always ask a lot of questions because they’re also interested in the business. I tell them about Expediter Services, and how we found our truck at Expediter Truck Sales, and how we did our financing through Expediter Equipment Finance. It’s such a sound business move, it’s actually good for men or women looking to get into Expediting.
SLN: What is your advice for women looking to get into Expediting?
I say to anyone looking into getting into the business, just follow your first instinct and do it. I think it’s a good investment that shows good results in the end. Our plan is to work hard, then purchase more trucks as we grow. With Expediter Services, fleet ownership is a proven business model and we plan on leveraging it to its fullest extent.
Thanks Joy, for sharing your experience about Women in Expediting with us. Stay tuned for another edition of Women in Expediting in a future issue of Spotlight News!
Visit our Women in Expediting page to learn about how you can get started today with your new career.
Readers of Spotlight News will no doubt be familiar with Jimmy and Bobbi Moore, a husband and wife who have built a successful fleet of ten Expediting trucks. (read their latest story here) You may also recognize Bobbi from our Women in Expediting series in our June, 7th, issue. (read her story here)
Since our last visit, the Moore’s have been busy expanding their fleet even more with the addition of another DR unit purchased at the recent Expedite Expo. Bobbi Moore explains that the new truck is all about expanding opportunities and diversification. “Before the Spring EGG (Expediter Group Gathering) in April of this year, we had only run factory dry units. But after talking with Expediter Services about the enhanced opportunities offered by getting into White Glove service, we thought it would be a good idea to purchase a Custom Sleeper DR unit and explore this part of the business. As it turned out, it was a great move for us. Based on that initial success, we decided to buy another Custom Sleeper DR in order to diversify our fleet even further.”
This latest purchase brings the Moore’s fleet up to ten units (eight dry, two refrigerated), and almost all sourced from Expediter Services’ very own fleet. “Ever since we began our business in 2013, we’ve relied on Expediter Truck Sales and Expediter Equipment Finance for all but one of our trucks. Our two latest DR units are 2014 Cascadias with Bolt custom sleepers from ES’s fleet. As anyone in this business knows, straight trucks and DR units in particular are hard to find. Expediter Services not only delivers on these trucks, they offer great value and competitive financing. When you add in ES’s support to the mix, you have a great support team to help you build a successful business.”
By diversifying the fleet, the Moore’s are continuing to create opportunities for their drivers. “Adding the DR units has worked out very well. When recruiting, we don’t require that teams have hazmat endorsements, but we do recommend it. Having these endorsements has helped two of our existing teams to easily transition into White Glove service without losing time, as they’re able to drive a dry unit until the qualification process is complete. We feel recruiting from within our own ranks helps with driver retention. It also helps to create loyalty and good will. Enhanced credentials also gives drivers something to look forward to and shoot for,” said Moore. “Adding White Glove service and DR units is also a way of diversifying in order to build a legacy for our children. Jimmy took our sixteen-year-old son Jimmy Jr. to the Expo and they also attended the EGG at the Expo together. Our children are interested in our business and are already participating. Jimmy Jr. has been working for us full-time all summer and will go part-time when school starts back. Joshua (10) has just started working part-time. It is so nice to build something they can someday carry on and grow. Our relationship with ES is very much like family, too. They are always there when we need them, and I know they will be there for us when we decide it’s time to grow and diversify even more.”