From left, Marne Keller-Krikava from J.J. Keller, Ellen Voie, who heads up Women In Trucking, and Deb Anderson from Schneider National. Photo: J.J. Keller/WIT
Here's something the executives of every company that supplies products to truckers should do: Spend some time with a trucker in the cab to experience life in the real world.
That's just what Marne Keller-Krikava, who took over as president and CEO of J.J. Keller at the beginning of this year, did earlier this month.
It wasn’t exactly business as usual on August 6 and 7 when Keller-Krikava left her office for the open road.
In order to understand the unique challenges women in the industry face, Keller-Krikava rode along with Deb Anderson from Schneider National of Green Bay, Wis., and Bree Eubanks from Roehl Transport of Marshfield, Wis.
It was not only a way to understand drivers, and women drivers in particular, but also a way to show the company's support for the Women In Trucking Association.
“Spending time with these women was a terrific, eye-opening experience,” said Keller-Krikava. “Both women clearly shared a passion for the independence the profession offers, but it was also evident they face some key challenges such as increasing regulation, distracted drivers, and finding safe overnight parking. With the help of organizations like Women In Trucking, we will continue to make strides in addressing these issues and recruiting more women to the profession.”
Anderson has been driving for Schneider for three and half years on a dedicated account, while Eubanks has been with Roehl for seven months and hauls a variety of freight with a curtainside trailer.
However, Keller-Krikava apparently didn't get to experience the joys of spending the night in a sleeper, as the press release from Keller notes that hotel accommodations were made by Hotels4Truckers.
It's very important that the people supplying products to the industry, regulating the industry, and reporting on the industry experience, even briefly, life behind the wheel. I have to admit it's been a while for me, but a trip I took from Wisconsin to the West Coast in a long-nose Kenworth will always stay with me. (And I DID spend the night in a sleeper bunk.)
No, it's not the same as actually having done it myself. Jim Park, HDT's Equipment Editor, had 20 years of on-the-road experience as a driver and owner-operator before hanging up the keys for the computer keyboard. Short trips like this can't begin to match that kind of experience. Nevertheless, it's definitely on my to-do list to get back out there again.