When Jeffrey and Valerie Welborn made the decision to change careers and enter the field of transportation, they were hopeful that their new path would lead to opportunity and success. Little did they know that a chance encounter at a truck stop would bring their path to ES’s Path To Ownership (PTO) and to FedEx as their new motor carrier. Learn more about how they are building a fleet by choosing their own path for ownership and success.
Jeffery, how did you and Valerie get started in transportation?
It all started in 2013. Up until that time, I had always worked for myself as a building contractor and the market just wasn’t supporting my business. I had always wanted to drive a truck. I discussed it with Valerie, and since she had recently been laid off from her job, we decided it would be a good career move.
After looking at several trucking opportunities, we started driving long haul for a large trucking company. After about nine months, we found ourselves broken down at a truck stop waiting on a tow truck. We began talking to an ES team signed on with FedEx as their motor carrier. They told us about ES and their support, as well as what a great company FedEx is to drive for. We asked a lot of questions and It sounded like a much better opportunity than where we were at present. We made up our minds that when our current contract was complete (in about 3 months) that we would make the switch to ES and Fedex as a team.
Soon afterwards, we were in touch with ES Recruiter, Kim Smith. She spent a lot of time on the phone with us explaining how the various ES programs work. We also told her that we wanted to become truck owners and she was very informative about the ES Path To Ownership (PTO). She was up front about everything and explained about how we could drive a truck from the ES fleet while running under FedEx’s authority. During this time, our attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history would be evaluated, along with our ability to generate revenue. And if we met all of the criteria, we could qualify to buy our own truck. It all sounded great — but we saw another opportunity within the ES umbrella and took another path to ownership, as you’ll see, it worked out very well for our business.
Can you tell us about the different path to ownership that you took?
The folks at ES encouraged us to attend their annual EGG (ES’s Group Gathering) — this was in 2015. It gave us the opportunity to get to know the people at ES on a personal basis. It also gave us the opportunity to network with other people in the business. The whole EGG experience was terrific! Not only did we get to meet a lot of knowledgeable people, we got to learn more about the transportation business in general. I would recommend to anyone to attend an EGG, it’s that good.
The EGG was the tipping point that reinforced our desire to become owners. Shortly afterwards, we met a fleet owner who gave us the opportunity to drive for him and purchase one of his trucks as a type of lease purchase agreement. We drove for him for about a year and a half as we were buying the truck and decided that we wanted to start our own fleet and buy a second truck. FedEx recommended several options and we chose to speak with ES because they represented the best opportunity to make a purchase while we were still paying for our first truck.
Back in August, we contacted ES about our desire to buy this second truck and spoke with Steve Kochensparger at ES Equipment Finance. I provided him with all of the paperwork and EEF evaluated it. At this point it was recommended that our best course of action was to purchase the current truck that we had been making payments on and own it flat out. This would make the process easier having that truck in our name when purchasing a second truck — which we should be able to do in about ninety days, through ES’s Path To Ownership.
We’re excited about the opportunity to add a second truck in a short amount of time and start building a fleet. I like the fact that ES is flexible with their Path To Ownership and lets us qualify for a truck using available data from the motor carrier that is provided to ES Equipment Finance. Our longterm plan is to add more trucks to our fleet in the future. The PTO makes the process easy and streamlined and we know what we’re getting. It’s a great opportunity to start our fleet off on the right foot.
A Woman in Transportation’s Perspective
What was it like starting a new career in transportation?
I love the fact that in transportation you are doing something different everyday. There really isn’t such a thing as “routine”. Yes, you’re performing a task where you haul freight on a routine basis, but it’s always a challenge and it’s almost always in a different place. Before getting into trucking, I had not seen many parts of this country. Transportation gives you the opportunity to travel and experience things you would never get to do in a more sedentary occupation.
I always tell women who want to get into transportation to keep an open mind. It’s not a business for everyone, but there is so much opportunity for women. I’m grateful that ES supports women-owned businesses with the 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge. Women should know that there are real careers to be made in the trucking field. It helps to have the right kind of business partner and I’m lucky to have Jeffrey. We always work well together as a team, and that’s what it takes to be a success in trucking — and it doesn’t hurt to have ES in your corner, so you never stand alone! Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative by clicking here.
Blair and Diane Seigle are a veteran husband and wife trucking team who started a new career in transportation after their children left home. Their desire to become owners was realized after learning about ES’s Path To Ownership. Learn how they leveraged their attitude, aptitude, work ethic and earning power to be a Success In Trucking.
Diane, how did you and Blair get started in transportation?
Blair has been a company driver, driving tractor-trailers for about thirty years. It’s been about ten years since I drove and I had been working in a factory, which wasn’t exactly my number one career choice. I much prefer to be on the road! So, after our children left home, we both felt it was time to do something together and that’s when we chose a new career in transportation — but this time, we chose expediting and straight trucks and we wanted to become owners.
How did you get started on your path to truck ownership?
We were looking for something that was easier to drive than a tractor-trailer that offered a better lifestyle. We did some research and called Panther because we knew their fleet included straight trucks, and they are a great company with a very good reputation. After contacting our recruiter, we told them about our desire to be owners. Since Panther doesn’t actually sell trucks, they told us about ES and their Path to Ownership (PTO). It wasn’t long before I got a call from ES Recruiter, Kim Smith. She went into more detail about the PTO, explaining that we could drive one of ES’s trucks (while running for Panther), for a specified amount of time. During that time period, our attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history would be evaluated, along with our ability to generate revenue. And if we met all of the criteria, we could qualify to buy our own truck.
The opportunity sounded really good! We soon made the trip to ES headquarters in Southaven, Mississippi and picked up a late model Cascadia from ES’s fleet and began our new business as contract drivers. We also met the ES team and got to know them on a personal basis — that was in January of this year. There was a learning curve to being expediters and driving a straight truck, but our Service Coordinator, Bobby Gardner was with us every step of the way as we settled into what turned out to be a profitable endeavor.
Blair, can you tell us about continuing the Path to Ownership?
As Diane stated earlier, we had a lot of support from the ES team. There was a lot to learn and we had a great deal of questions. One of the things we learned was to listen to the advice from our Service Coordinator about loads, maintenance and many other aspects of running a successful expediting business. We soon found out that by following their proven strategies and working hard, you have a great opportunity to build a profitable business. By June of this year, we got the call from Bobby telling us that our revenue was good. He asked if we’d like to continue our Path to Ownership by taking the next step. We felt confident in our ability to actually become owners and said “YES”!
We were soon in touch with ES Truck Sales Representative, David Morquecho. Although we had been driving a Freightliner Cascadia, we opted for a truck with a larger sleeper and more amenities, including a ThermoKing APU, which helps us save on fuel. He sourced us a very nice low mileage 2016 Volvo 780 ST from the ES fleet. Purchasing a used truck represented a great value and there’s plenty of service life left in the vehicle. It’s a very nice truck and a great place to spend time on the road with Diane. We’re very pleased with our choice.
The next step was to submit our paperwork to ES Equipment Finance, and it wasn’t long before we were approved. We’ve now been in the truck for about a month and our business is doing well. As an owner you truly have more control over your destiny. It’s true what they say at ES: If you can drive the truck, you can own the truck!
A Woman in Transportation’s Perspective
What has it been like being a woman in the transportation business?
Back when I started in transportation, there was push back from men in the industry. Many men felt that women shouldn’t be driving a truck. Also, trucks were built for a man’s physique. I’m a short woman and in the past it was difficult for me to physically drive a truck because they just aren’t built with women’s body types in mind. But today, more and more women are now driving trucks and we’re more respected, which is a good thing. Another good thing is that truck manufacturers are building trucks that make it easier for women to drive.
For any woman looking to start a career in trucking, I would tell them to go for it. Blair and I have been successful and we’re working hard to provide for a good retirement. It helps to have someone on your side supporting you like the ES Team, so you Never Stand Alone. When it’s all said and done, I think there’s more opportunity for women than ever before, and I’m thankful to companies like ES for providing opportunities through the 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge. Women should seek out opportunities like this. Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative by clicking here.
The inaugural SITE was such a success, we’re doing it again in 2020!
The SITE is a truly unique trucking event that’s unlike any other gathering in transportation — and next year’s Success In Trucking Expo 2020 will continue and expand upon opportunities to help drivers become owners, owners become fleet owners, and fleet owners expand their fleets. Proving once again that with the opportunities offered by ES: If you can drive a truck, you can own the truck!
Building upon the success of last year’s SITE, Stoops Freightliner will once again be our Title Sponsor. The ES community will feature a gathering of top motor carriers including: Panther Premium Logistics, Forward Air and FedEx Custom Critical. In addition, our roster of vendors, guest speakers and ES team members will be on hand to answer questions and get to know you on a personal level, so you Never Stand Alone.
“In 2019, we worked diligently to develop the Success In Trucking Expo into an event that would be meaningful and have a positive impact for professional drivers interested in ownership, as well as current owner-operators and fleet owners who are looking to grow their businesses. We’re looking forward to continuing this success at the 2020 SITE,” said ES President Jason Williams.
MORE ABOUT THE SITE
• The SITE (Success in Trucking Expo) 2020 takes place June 5 – 6 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the largest permanent sport facility in the world. At the SITE, your dreams of truck ownership can become a reality.
• Join us for food and fellowship! We look forward to dining with you and getting to know you better as we eat together with meals provided by the Success In Trucking Expo. Our wonderful venue located at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway will overlook a selection of new trucks for you to review and test drive.
We’re excited about the SITE 2020 and hope to see you there!
If you have questions or if you’d like to register now,
please contact our team at 877-349-9303.
Stay tuned! We will be posting more details about the SITE 2020 as more information becomes available.
You Don’t Have to Wait for the SITE to buy a truck. It’s What We Do Everyday!
We’re once again excited to have attended the Accelerate! Conference & Expo 2019, sponsored by the Women in Trucking Association. This year’s conference took place in Dallas, Texas. The attendees were comprised of a large and diverse crowd of women and men, ready to learn how gender diversity can have a positive impact on careers and a company’s success. We enjoyed meeting everyone who visited our booth!
Our Commitment to Diversity and Opportunity
ES has established a reputation in the industry for opening doors for women who are seeking to become business owners in trucking. Today, the number of women within the ES Community who are fleet owners, owner-operators or independent contract drivers involved in the programs offered by the company now exceeds 38 percent. When compared to the overall industry average of women behind the wheel, the percentage of women participating in the ES truck ownership programs and utilizing the company’s support services is nearly five times greater than the current national average.
We are committed to the 150 Women-Owned Business Challenge, having helped create 85 women-owned businesses in the last year alone. We look forward to providing even more support and opportunities to help women become owners in the future, so you Never Stand Alone.
Securing Opportunity into the Future for Everyone
In anticipation of future growth, the ES recruiting team recently moved into their new offices. Recruiting is an important service that we offer and we wanted to make the recruiting process as streamlined as possible in order to provide opportunities for people from all walks of life. The new recruiting office is located just off of the HUB contractor lounge, so it’s easy to get to and its accessible to anyone who visits. Click to learn more about The Hub.
To insure that the ES team will be able to service you well into the future, the entire upper floor of the ES operational headquarters has been expanded to include additional office space. We’re looking forward to the road ahead as we make plans for helping you with your success.
Our recruiting team is ready to serve you! Contact us at 877-349-9303, ext. 4
The SITE 2020
Site 2019 was so successful, we’re doing it again next year on June 5 & 6, once again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Save the date for SITE 2020. Call for more information at 877-349-9303.
All of ES’s expansion and growth have been developed with your success in mind. We believe in the power of the individual and we’re here to help you succeed your way.
Check out the photos below to learn more and to see what happened at the Accelerate! Conference 2019.
ES Gears Up for Growth with Building Expansion & Investment in Programs Supporting the Company’s Community of Small Businesses
The company expands the recruiting department at its operational headquarters as ES continues to move forward with a strategic plan that is focused on supporting small businesses in trucking.
ES, a leader in capacity solutions and ownership opportunities within the trucking industry, announced the company recently completed the current phase of its operational headquarters expansion with the addition of new office space specifically designed for the ES Recruiting Department. The decision to move forward with the development of a larger space for the recruiting department within the ES operational headquarters is part of an overall strategic plan focused on supporting the continued growth of the company’s truck ownership opportunities and expanding its business support programs for the members of the ES Community.
“At ES, one of the points that we stress with every business owner who becomes part of our program is the importance of setting money aside to invest back into your business. The expansion of the new space for the growing needs of our recruiting department is one of the ways that our company is investing in our future as well as investing in the needs of our ES Community,” said Paul Williams, CEO of ES. “As a company, ES provides safe, stable and profitable capacity to our partner carriers by connecting carriers with our community of small business owners consisting of independent contractor drivers, owner-operators and fleet owners. The success of ES is directly tied to the success of the motor carriers and the members of the ES community, and we believe it is essential to continue to invest in the infrastructure and programs that will further open the doors for success in trucking.”
Williams noted that ES originally acquired the company’s operational headquarters building – which had previously served as a newspaper distribution center just south of Memphis – because it could accommodate future growth needs. The Recruiting Department expansion is the third construction project that ES has completed since 2017. Previously, the company had added the Hub, a gathering space for owner-operators and independent contract drivers, as well as an expanded area for the IT Department, Accounting and other back-office support functions ES provides to participants in the company’s programs.
“When Expediter Services entered the trucking industry and began introducing our offerings in the expedited sector in 2006, we had developed a strategic plan for future growth and the development of our programs that could expand beyond expedite,” explained Williams. “Having a building large enough where we can expand as necessary to provide the highest level of support for the needs of the small businesses in the ES Community has helped our company move forward in what we can offer to the overall trucking industry.”
Continued Commitment to Reinvesting in Infrastructure & Programs
According to Jason Williams, President of ES, one of our core principles is the commitment to make investments back into company’s infrastructure in order to enhance the offerings available to the ES Community. The company’s history and track record of growth stand as proof of the dedication to reinvestment – in both prosperous times and during periods when the market is soft. One of the benefits of becoming a leading provider of non-asset capacity to the expedited sector could be seen in the manner with which ES brought its proven model of creating small businesses to general trucking. By 2016, the company had introduced truck ownership programs and support services tailored for the demands of the truckload (TL) and less than truckload (LTL) sectors.
In November of 2017, ES partnered with the Women In Trucking Association to launch the 150 Business Challenge, a collaborative initiative between the two organizations to create 150 women-owned businesses in transportation. Over the past two years, the 150 Business Challenge is fast approaching 100 new trucking start-ups as a result of participation in the program, which offers an attainable path to financing as well as operational and business support for women who have an interest in a career path within the trucking industry. Qualified participants in all of the ES ownership programs have access to competitive, market-rate financing with a credit-evaluation process that places an emphasis on attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history.
“Trucking has allowed me to realize my dream of becoming my own boss, and the opportunity I have through ES and 150 Business Challenge allowed my dream of truck ownership to come true,” said Shannon Richert, who is running with Forward Air. “I can’t say enough about the ownership program and the support services available to me as part of the ES Community. I am running my own small business in an industry that I love. ES has opened the doors to the best experience I’ve had in all my years in trucking.
“I quickly discovered ES is a company that you can trust. They will stand with you no matter what’s happening in the freight market,” she added. “ES will tell you, ‘If you can drive a truck, you can own the truck,’ and that’s absolutely true. You are going to have ups and downs in trucking. It’s a fact of life. But, because of the comprehensive way that ES supports the people in their programs, you can enter truck ownership at any time and at any point in the freight cycle. If you want to get into truck ownership today and you are willing to commit to the work needed to be successful, ES can help you make it happen.”
The 150 Business Challenge: A Closer Look at the Commitment to Provide Opportunities
Long before the collaboration with WIT on the 150 Business Challenge, ES had established a reputation in the industry for opening doors for women who are seeking to become business owners in trucking. Today, the number of women within the ES Community who are fleet owners, owner-operators or independent contract drivers involved in the programs offered by the company now exceeds 38 percent of the ES fleet. When compared to the overall industry average of women behind the wheel, the percentage of women participating in the ES truck ownership programs and utilizing the company’s support services is nearly five times greater than the current national average.
FedEx, Forward Air and Panther Premium Logistics, a service of ArcBest, have become leading participating motor carriers within the ES Community. These three companies served as the exclusive motor carriers for the inaugural Success In Trucking Expo (SITE), which was held at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway complex in early June of this year.
Donna Sleasman, a 38-year veteran of the industry who found a home in expediting as an owner-operator with FedEx in 2000, began utilizing the support services of ES in 2012 as she was growing her own fleet of expedited trucks within FedEx. Donna brought a depth of perspective to the SITE as a member of the panel discussion on truck ownership at the event. Within the last year, Donna further grew her fleet through the 150 Business Challenge program, and she was recognized in July by the Women In Trucking Association as one of the honorees for the organization’s Top Women-Owned Businesses Award.
“To think that someone like me who has a company with five or six trucks could be on this list is quite flattering, and I feel like I need to share the credit for this award with ES,” said Donna. “ES has become a valued business partner, and they have helped me become more successful as a business owner. The discounts ES provides are some of the best in the trucking industry, and the support they offer to me and to everyone in their program is first-rate. I can walk right into Jason Williams’ office and ask him a question. He will take the time to listen and to get me with the right people who can address what I need.
“ES backs up what they tell you and they truly care about your success as a business owner,” she added. “The biggest thing is that they have been there when I have needed them, and that’s the way they work with everyone in their program. I wish ES had been in business with the program they have today back when I started.”
Positive Impact of the Inaugural Success In Trucking Expo (SITE)
The response from professional drivers, owner-operators and fleet owners interested in attending the inaugural edition of the SITE was confirmation in the decision to move forward with the expansion of the ES Recruiting Department space at the company’s headquarters.
“The outreach and marketing efforts we made related to the SITE helped to build a lot of positive momentum for our recruiting department,” said Jeff Tacker, COO of ES. “We are thrilled to be in our new space. It not only meets our needs at the moment and in the months ahead, but this expansion will allow us to continue to grow for years to come. We added one new recruiter in early September, and we are looking forward to adding to the team as they are needed.”
According to ES, the SITE has contributed to the increased interest the company has received from carriers within expedite and general trucking seeking to work with the non-asset capacity that ES is developing for the industry.
“We are quite thankful and very fortunate to have established strong working relationships with three of the trucking industry’s leading names in FedEx, Forward Air and ArcBest through Panther Premium Logistics. One of the byproducts of the success ES and the members of our community have realized over the years can be seen in the calls that we have gotten from a number of motor carriers interested in our program,” said Jason Williams. “We spend a good amount of time talking with interested motor carriers and closely examining all aspects of those companies to see if they are a good fit for our ES Community. We are currently preparing to beta test a carrier and we will be looking at some additional carrier candidates over the next year. At the end of the day, one of the biggest questions in the evaluation process is this: How will the carrier benefit the small business owners in our community?”
Everyone knows 2019 has been a tough year for trucking. But take heart, the sky isn’t falling and the big bad wolf isn’t baying at the door!
As a matter of course, business and freight cycles are a fact of life in the trucking environment — you can count on it. You can also count on the fact that ES has created a Community of Support to mitigate the ups and downs that take place in the market.
ES is optimistic about the trucking industry and YOU! That’s why we’ve invested heavily in expanding infrastructure, people and technology to enhance our platform of support in order to create stability, so you Never Stand Alone. (Click here to learn more about our expansion). ES has created groundbreaking programs to help expand opportunity, including the 150 women-owned business challenge that has helped women come to represent 38% of the ES fleet; one of the highest in the industry and growing. In addition, ES has created the industry leading PTO (Path To Ownership) that takes your attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history into account when it comes to financing a truck. ES believes that If You Can Drive a Truck, You Can Own the Truck! ES brings You and our Community together to help you become a Success In Trucking.
We invite you to watch our video below from the recent Success In Trucking Expo (click to learn more about the SITE) detailing the ES community of support created to help you through good market conditions, as well as bad.
How can ES help you today? Contact our team at 877-349-9303.
ES will be attending the annual Accelerate! Conference & Expo, sponsored by the Women in Trucking Association, September 30 thru October 2, at the Sheraton Dallas. The conference brings transportation, logistics, and supply chain peers together to educate and discuss critical issues and trends in transportation, along with perspectives of women in the industry.
In 2017, The Accelerate! Conference was the springboard where ES and the Women in Trucking Association introduced the 150 Women-Owned business challenge, a strategic partnership with the goal of providing more opportunity for women-owned small businesses (owner-operators). Since the introduction of the “challenge”, over eighty five women-owned businesses have been created, helping women who operate under the ES umbrella break through the glass ceiling of truck ownership. Women now represent 38% of the ES fleet (one of the highest in the industry) — once again proving that with ES, If You Can Drive a Truck, You Can Own the Truck!
In addition to ES being a business incubator for women-owned businesses, we’ve invested heavily in expanding infrastructure, people and technology to enhance our platform of support in order to create stability, so you Never Stand Alone. (Click here to learn more about our expansion). ES has created groundbreaking programs to help expand opportunity for women, including the industry leading PTO (Path To Ownership) that takes your attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history into account when it comes to financing a truck.
Another way ES has helped to support women-owned businesses is through the launch of the inaugural SITE (Success in Trucking Expo) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 6 & 7 of this year. (Click to see what happened at the SITE) It was an invitation only event designed to continue and expand opportunities to help drivers become owners, owners become fleet owners, and fleet owners expand their fleets. Many women attended the SITE resulting in successful outcomes as owner-operators. The SITE was such a success, we’re doing it again next year on June 5 & 6, once again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Click to learn more and save the date for SITE 2020).
Please visit us at Booth 104. We look forward to seeing you here!
Never Stand Alone! Contact us for more opportunities at 877-349-9303.
In July, the Women In Trucking Association selected Donna as one of the honorees for the organization’s Top Women-Owned Business Award
For Donna Sleasman, the road she took in being recognized by the Women In Trucking Association as one of the industry’s top women business owners has been both rewarding and challenging. Earning acknowledgement as a trailblazing entrepreneur never entered Donna’s thoughts as she considered her career options in 1980 while working at a gas station in West Sacramento, California.
Today, Donna is the business owner of an expedited fleet that delivered $1.8 million in revenue in 2018. Donna’s company is on track to expand to 10 units before the end of 2019, and she is seeking to reach the goal of 20 trucks by the end of 2020. Part of Donna’s fleet growth has been achieved through the 150 Business Challenge, the collaborative initiative between ES and the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) to create 150 women-owned businesses in transportation. Donna’s relationship with ES dates back more than seven years when she began utilizing the discounts and support services available to the participants in the ES Community.
“ES has become a valued business partner, and they have helped me become more successful as a business owner. The discounts ES provides are some of the best in the trucking industry, and the support they offer to me and to everyone in their program is first-rate,” explained Donna. “I can walk right into (ES President) Jason Williams’ office and ask him a question. He will take the time to listen and to get me with the right people who can address what I need.
“ES backs up what they tell you and they truly care about your success as a business owner,” she added. “The biggest thing is that they have been there when I have needed them, and that’s the way they work with everyone in their program. If ES had been in business and with the program they have today back when I started, it would have been incredible. It’s been a long road to get to where I am today.”
The Long Road To Success In Trucking
Looking back to 1980 and her days in West Sacramento, Donna knew there was a better life available to her when she started to take a greater interest in the trucks that went past the filling station. As Donna did her research on entering the industry, she was also inspired by the memory of a family connection to trucking. During her childhood, Donna had to the opportunity to ride with her father back in the days when he drove a truck in the oil fields.
“I was always ‘Daddy’s Girl,’ and I loved spending time with him wherever he went,” said Donna, who would name the company she founded in 1983 Daddy’s Girl Trucking in honor of her father.
Donna understood that getting started in trucking as a woman in the early 1980s would not be easy, but she was determined to succeed by finding the right opportunity. Rather than enter a driving school and pay $3,000, Donna found an opportunity through the commercial transport division of North American Van Lines in which she could take the same $3,000 and put a down payment on a truck she would own.
At the time that Donna went through orientation with North American, she was the only woman in a class of 35 people. And while she met a few women professional drivers during the early days of her career (mostly wives who had gotten their CDLs to team with their husbands), Donna recalls only meeting one other woman who was running as a solo owner-operator at that time.
“The industry has changed so much since I started, and it has changed for the better,” Donna observed. “There just weren’t a lot of us out on the road back then. Now women have all kinds of opportunities.”
A New Day: Discovering & Entering The Expedited Sector
The expedited sector of trucking was barely in its infancy when Donna entered the industry. As she continued to work as an owner-operator in the world of big trucks, Donna kept her eye on what was happening within expedite. By 1999, the opportunities began to look more attractive on the expedited side of the fence, and Donna, having met so many husband-and-wife teams over her long-haul years on the road, had an idea that would eventually change the course of her career in trucking and her time as an entrepreneur.
Donna’s husband had been looking to possibly make a career change toward the end of the 1990s. Donna clearly understood the earning potential for an expedited team, and she shared a plan with her husband, who then obtained his Class B license. And while they achieved some early success when they started in expedite in 1999, Donna and her husband realized team trucking was not something that they wanted to pursue together long term. At the same time, the experience in expedite was a revelation for Donna, who began looking for the best solo opportunity within the sector that could fit her needs. FedEx opened a new door for Donna in 2000. Today, Donna and her fleet are part of the FedEx Custom Critical operation.
Enjoying a nearly 20-year association with FedEx, Donna’s approach to trucking is a stark contrast to the high turnover rates that are a part of the trucking industry’s landscape. Donna believes in the value of building relationships and finding a home.
“I have been able build a pretty good rapport with the people at FedEx over the years. I learned a long time ago in this industry it can cost you a lot of money to simply cut and run when something goes wrong,” said Donna. “If you leave some place because of an issue, you have to start somewhere else. You lose money in between carriers and you can lose money learning a new system. The learning curve can take up to three months, and that’s where people fall deeper into a (financial) hole. It’s much better if you can stick around and try to work things out when you have an issue.
“With FedEx, you have the brand recognition of the FedEx name. I have learned their system and I know what to expect,” added Donna. “They have kept my trucks running and their rates have always been pretty good.”
Earning WIT’s Recognition as a Top Women-Owned Business Owner
Donna was aware that ES had nominated her six-truck operation at the time for consideration by WIT for the association’s Top Women-Owned Business Award. ES had also submitted additional nominations for the WIT honor from the group of participants in the 150 Business Challenge program. While the other ES nominees had strong credentials in what amounted to the start-ups of their small businesses, Donna’s results with a year-over-year growth of more than 30 percent, the company’s 2018 revenue total and her experience of nearly 40 years in trucking presented a compelling case to the WIT panel choosing the honorees.
Though she remained hopeful that she might be recognized by WIT for the award, Donna admits that she was quite stunned when she learned that her Daddy’s Girl Trucking Company had been included among WIT’s list of Top Women-Owned Business Award winners for 2019.
“I was very shocked, I really was,” said Donna. “There are some really big companies out there that got recognized on this list. To think that someone like me who has a company with five or six trucks (at the time) could be on this list is quite flattering. It’s a tremendous honor, and I am very grateful to ES for the time and effort they took to nominate me for the award.”
“We were proud to nominate Donna for WIT’s Top Women-Owned Business Award, and we are thrilled that the association selected her company as one of this year’s honorees,” said ES President Jason Williams. “What Donna has accomplished during her career in the trucking industry is truly inspiring. To be an owner-operator and successful business owner in this industry for nearly 40 years makes Donna not only deserving of the award she received from WIT, but, in looking at her achievements, she should be considered as a real trailblazer.
“We are very grateful that Donna is part of the ES Community. She has been a mentor to a number of the owner-operators and independent contractors in our ownership programs,” Jason added. “Donna is someone you can look up to in this industry, and she is an example of what is possible with hard work and a determination to succeed.”
Inspiring Continued Growth of Ownership Opportunities for Women
Long before the collaboration with WIT on the 150 Business Challenge, ES had established a reputation in the industry for opening doors for women who are seeking to become business owners in trucking. Today, the number of women within the ES Community who are fleet owners, owner-operators or independent contractors involved in the programs offered by the company now exceeds 38 percent of the ES fleet. When compared to the overall industry average of women behind the wheel, the percentage of women participating in the ES truck ownership programs and utilizing the company’s support services is nearly five times greater than the current national average.
Having worked with ES for the past seven years and having witnessed the change that has occurred in the industry over the past four decades, Donna has not been surprised to see an increasing number of women use the truck ownership programs from ES to launch their respective businesses.
“You can come across a lot of empty promises in this industry, but ES is the real deal. They stand behind everything that they tell you,” observed Donna. “ES has always been there for me. They are good, honest people who, if you can show that you have a good work ethic, will provide you with an opportunity to start your own business and they will support you in your efforts to be successful. I have been doing this for a long time, and I’m glad that ES is on my side.”
Staying Humble on the Road Ahead
While earning a well-deserved place on WIT’s Top-Women Owned Business List stands as one of the high points of her career in trucking, Donna is not allowing the recognition to take her focus away from the goals of running her fleet and growing her business. Amid all the congratulations she has received since the award was announced in late July, she has remained humble by never forgetting her roots and the route that brought her to this level of success.
“This is a great award and it still amazes me that I am a part of a list recognizing the top women-owned businesses in the trucking industry,” she explained. “I’ve had a lot of people ask me about it, and I try to stay humble. I don’t look at myself as a big-time business owner who is in an office. I still see myself as a truck driver, because I am a truck driver. If I need to get out there and take one of my trucks wherever it needs to go, I know that I can do that. I am willing to do the work that needs to be done for my business. But, no matter what I do or where I go, I’m still a truck driver.”
ES’s growth over the years is a direct result of the support we’ve gotten from you: the drivers, owner-operators, fleet owners and motor carriers. Our commitment to the community manifests itself in the ongoing investment in the infrastructure, people and resources necessary to provide opportunities for you and your business to become a Success in Trucking. As a result ES enjoys one of the highest owner-operator retention rates in the industry, as well as a fleet comprised of 38% women. We’re anticipating even more growth and success as we gear up for the future!
NEW ES Recruiting Offices
We’re excited to announce that the ES recruiting team moved into their new offices this week! Recruiting is an important service that we offer and we wanted to make the recruiting process as streamlined as possible. According to David Withers, ES Recruiting Director, the move will help make ES recruiting services better. “We’re pleased about the move. The new office gives our recruiting team more space and capabilities that will make the entire recruiting process more efficient. The new offices also gives us space to grow as we add more members to our team.”
The new recruiting office is located just off of the HUB contractor lounge, so it’s easy to get to and its accessible to anyone who visits. Click to learn more about The Hub
Our recruiting team is ready to serve you! Contact us at 877-349-9303, ext. 4
New Upstairs Office Space
In anticipation of future growth, the entire upper floor of the ES headquarters has been expanded to include additional office space. We’re looking forward to the road ahead as we gear up to serve you now and into the future!
Never Stand Alone! Contact us for more opportunities at 877-349-9303.
The SITE 2019 & 2020
June 6 & 7, we launched the inaugural SITE (Success in Trucking Expo) at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was an invitation only event designed to continue and expand opportunities to help drivers become owners, owners become fleet owners, and fleet owners expand their fleets. Proving once again, with ES: If you can drive a truck, you can own the truck! Click to see what happened at the SITE 2019.
Site 2019 was so successful, we’re doing it again next year on June 5 & 6, once again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Click to learn more and save the date for SITE 2020.
The addition of the HUB, ES’s contractor’s lounge, in 2017 has proven to be a hit! The Hub brings together a number of amenities to help make contractors feel at home. The common area is clean, spacious and well-lit, with a large flat-screen TV, comfortable lounge chairs where you can put your feet up, and a kitchen area featuring free coffee. In addition, The Hub also provides a free shower and a washer & dryer. And if the mood strikes, you can sit outside on our patio. Access to The Hub is monitored and controlled, so you don’t have to worry about unwanted “guests” hassling you the moment you step out of your cab — so you can simply enjoy your visit. Click to learn more about The Hub.
Husband and wife transportation team Norris and Zakiya Simmons’ background started in the warehousing industry, when a chance discussion with a co-worker made them question their current profession and look into the opportunities offered in transportation. Ride along with us as we tell their story of Success In Trucking.
Norris, how did you and Zakiya get started in transportation?
We both worked in the warehousing industry. One day I was training a new employee at the company where we worked and he asked me if I had ever been a truck driver. I hadn’t really thought about driving a truck before, even though my mother was a truck driver. But the more I thought about it and started doing research, I began to realize just what a great opportunity transportation could be. I mentioned it to my wife and she was onboard with the idea as well. We immediately started making plans, packed up our things and began pursuing our dreams on the road. That was in 2016.
I went to work for a trucking company and got my CDL. I drove for them for about eighteen months, but I just wasn’t happy with the way things were going. I had entered into a traditional lease purchase agreement during this time and didn’t get the loads I needed to maintain it, so I walked away from the lease. By this time, Zakiya was driving for a chemical company and I started driving there. Things were going great until her contract got cancelled. We approached the company about letting us drive as a team, but they wouldn’t agree to it. That’s when we began looking for other opportunities.
What was your next move?
We did a lot of research online and talked to a lot of other drivers. Many of them had good things to say about Forward Air, so I contacted them. We told the recruiter about our past experiences as company drivers and that we wanted to do more with our careers and become owner-operators. The recruiter told us about ES and their Path to Ownership (PTO) — that we could drive one of their trucks, while running under Forward Air’s authority and after a specified amount of time, if we qualified, we could get our own truck. The opportunity sounded great and it was a way for us to become owners in a much shorter time period. I called ES right away.
Tell us about your experience with ES’s Path to Ownership?
I contacted ES and spoke to recruiter EJ Jackson. He went into even more details about the PTO — that we could drive one of ES’s trucks (while running for Forward Air), for a specified amount of time. During that time period, our attitude, aptitude, work ethic and work history would be evaluated, along with our ability to generate revenue. And if we met all of the criteria, we could qualify to buy our own truck.
In May, we started our Path to Ownership driving a very nice 2018 Kenworth T680 from ES’s fleet. During this time, we drove hard and learned as much as we could. The ES team was very helpful during this time supporting us with advice on loads and how to run our business more efficiently. After about three months, we got the word that our revenue was good. Our ES Service Coordinator asked if we’d like to continue our Path to Ownership by taking the next step. Of course, we said YES!!!
A visit to the SITE and Seeing our truck
Along with the fantastic news about our taking the next step in our Path to Ownership, we were invited to the Success In Trucking Expo at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on June 7 & 8. We were thrilled to be invited to the SITE! We really didn’t know what to expect, but once we got there, we were extremely impressed. The food was outstanding and their speakers were interesting and informative. We learned a lot about ES as a company and got to know them personally. On top of that, we got to actually see and drive the type of truck we wanted: a 2020 Volvo VNL 860. Being able to see this truck in person really helped us know that this was the type of truck for us. We even got to drive it on the Indy infield track! How many people can say that? Overall, the SITE was very helpful to us. We also got to meet Football Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz. His message of positivity and spirituality touched our hearts. We knew were were amongst good people.
Tell us about finding your truck and your experience with ES Equipment Finance?
Shortly after returning from the SITE, we got with Danny Vernon at ES Truck Sales. We all discussed what Zakiya and I wanted in a truck and he helped us spec a 2020 Volvo VNL 860 (just like the one we drove at the SITE). It’s an awesome truck and is equipped just the way we wanted it, including a Carrier APU that helps us save on fuel. We then submitted our paperwork to ES Equipment Finance and it wasn’t long before we were approved! We’ve been in our truck since July10th and our business as truck owners is already starting to show signs of success. This is where our aptitude, attitude and work ethic begins to pay off, and the ES team is behind us all the way, so we Never Stand Alone.
A Woman in Transportation’s Perspective
What has your experience been like in the transportation business?
I’ve had a good experience, especially since coming on board with ES. Being a truck owner has its own challenges compared to being a company driver. You have more responsibility, but you also have much more opportunity and the rewards are that much greater. That’s why it’s important to have someone standing in your corner with you, like the ES team. It also means a lot to me that ES backs women in this industry with the 150 woman-owned business challenge. Read more about the WIT/ES 150 women-owned business initiative by clicking here.
How do you and Norris balance work priorities?
I think it all comes down to being a team. Even though we both drive, I’m very good at keeping up with the paperwork and finances. Norris is good at keeping up with the many tasks involved with keeping the equipment running properly. We feel blessed to have such a great opportunity and we’re going to work hard in order to have something to build upon in the future. We hope to build a fleet in the not too distant future.