Richard and Dixie Cavender are a husband and wife transportation team who know and appreciate the value of a real opportunity. Their journey led them to ES’s Path to Ownership (PTO), resulting in a Much Better Alternative (MBA) to truck finance. Read on to see how they overcame a potentially catastrophic health scare, and resulting financial hardship to become true owners and a Success in Trucking.
Dixie, how did you and Richard get started in transportation? We met while working in a mobile home factory thirty years ago. The company kept going in and out of business over the years. We got tired of all the uncertainty and turmoil and began looking around for a better way to make a living. We found a lot of truck driving opportunities in the newspaper and decided that’s where we should be. We left the mobile home factory in 1990 and went to truck driving school.
Tell us about how you arrived at Forward Air as your carrier? After graduating from school, we drove for a couple of different companies, but always keeping our eyes open for better opportunities. Finally, we landed a steady job hauling carpet from Dalton, Georgia to Los Angeles. We did that for ten years. Our next career move was driving for one of the large overnight carriers for the next twelve years.
We had seen Forward Air trucks on the highway over the years and even knew people who drove for them. Looking for a better opportunity, we contacted the company back in 2016 to see what they had to offer. We liked what we heard right away. They’re a great company to work with even though we took a slight detour away from Forward Air due to a serious health problem involving Richard. But as you’ll see, we found our way back to them through ES a short time later.
Tell us about Richard’s health scare and your resulting financial hardship? We hadn’t been at Forward Air very long, when Richard suffered a heart attack. Because of this, we couldn’t drive or operate our business and wound up almost losing everything, including the truck we were leasing at the time. Richard had quadruple bypass surgery. Shortly after surgery he began feeling much better. It wasn’t long before we were ready to go back to work. We were left without a truck, wondering what our next step would be.
What was the next step in your career following Richard’s illness? We went to work driving for a contractor at an overnight carrier again and knew immediately it wasn’t the right move for us. We discussed it, did some research, and decided to call ES. The recruiter was friendly and knowledgeable. We were so excited to learn that Forward Air was one of the carriers they support. It was great being back in the saddle with Forward Air! But that’s not all we learned.
We were also told about ES’s PTO. We learned that we could drive as a contractor for ES with Forward Air and qualify to become owners. Here’s how it works: over a certain length of time (usually about ninety days), ES would evaluate our aptitude, attitude and earning potential. If we meet their criteria at the end of the evaluation period, we would then continue our Path To Ownership by choosing our truck and submitting our paperwork to Expediter Equipment Finance.
Tell us about your Path to Ownership? After driving a few months, we got the call from ES saying that our numbers looked good. They asked if we were ready to continue our Path to Ownership. Our answer was a resounding YES!
We were soon in touch with Danny Vernon, Expediter Truck Sales Manager. He helped us source a grey 2019 Volvo 860 from General Truck Sales, using ES’s fleet pricing. The truck has a Thermoking APU (which helps us save on fuel), and a really nice sleeper. The next step was to submit our paperwork to Expediter Equipment Finance. It wasn’t long before we were approved. The whole process was easy and straight forward.
I can honestly say that I thought our career path was over after Richard’s heart attack and the financial trouble we had as a result of his illness. ES’s Path to Ownership restored our faith in ourselves and in others. It’s truly a great feeling to be true truck owners. If there’s anyone out there who works hard, but has had a tough break in your life or career, I encourage you to contact ES to explore the opportunities they offer. With ES, you Never Stand Alone!
What are your plans for the future, now that you’re owners? We’ve been in our truck for about three weeks now. We’re already able to see how being owners is positively effecting our bottom-line. Our goal is to maximize the earning potential of our new truck and pay off our home, as well as the truck as quickly as possible. We’re confident that with ES’s support we can achieve all of the goals we’ve set out to do.
A Woman in Transportation’s Perspective
What are your thoughts about ES’s 150 Woman-Owned Business Challenge? I think it’s wonderful! ES is definitely ahead of the curve with the 150 Woman-Owned Business initiative. Women are a growing portion of the trucking industry. It makes sense that ES would recognize this fact and help provide opportunities for women looking to start their own business and they’ve made great progress by helping create over 60 woman-owned businesses so far this year. (Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative here)
How has the industry changed since you started in 1990? It has changed a lot since I started. In 1990, there weren’t a lot of options or amenities for women at truck stops. It was hard to find showers, and even then it was difficult to utilize the facilities. Today, more and more truck stops cater to women because there are more women truckers than ever before and that number is growing.
How do you and Richard balance your workloads? Transportation is truly a team effort. There is just too much going on to try and attempt this business alone. We both help each other whenever or wherever it’s needed. For instance, I’m a great backer and Richard is my man on the ground to help me get the job done. We always have each other’s back and we love it!