Displaced Factory Employees Find Their Path to Ownership and Success In Trucking
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.
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