Kevin Reid last month unveiled a project he's had in the works for six years, the National Association for Minority Truckers. Reid is chairman and CEO.
"I've experienced many of the obstacles minority transportation owners face personally," he said on Sirius XM's "The Lockridge Report" earlier this week.
Reid, who is African-American, said the main problem he identified was the lack of education and resources in regard to the business end of trucking.
"My background was in sales and marketing, which made it relatively easy for me to go out and be able to obtain business and understand how to go about marketing my company," he told host Evan Lockridge (who's also a contributing editor to HDT.) "Many truck drivers don't have that background, and trucking is an extremely competitive industry. It's one thing to have an understanding of the industry; knowing how to build, grow and market a business is different."
Reid has been there, starting a business as a one-truck owner-operator and building it up from there. Educational needs may range from figuring out what type of business organization to choose (S-corp? LLC?) to understanding how to get quality business. "There's plenty of work out there, but it doesn't all pay good," he said.
"For anyone who starts out as a co driver, and any guy who has his own truck, we all aspire to have our own company. That's the American dream," Reid said. "But if we don't have the educational background to grow and market that business, it can be farily brutal."
While these are challenges for many truckers, Reid believes minorities struggle with it even more -- and that up to now, there have been no resources for this rapidly-growing group, especially Hispanics.
"Almost every segment of the industry had some form or representation or resource, except for minorities. There are a vast number of minorities in the industry with no association to represent them. That was totally mindblowing to realize."
NAFMT, based in Georgia, provides members with an assigned personal member representative to act as a consultant. This, Reid says, is a big thing that sets his organization apart from others. "Other associations are not going to take you by the hand from start to finish and train you and guide you," he said.
The group also offers various networking opportunities for members, a monthly newsletter, insurance benefits, drug and alcohol testing, a legal plan, and discounts on fuel, tires, maintenance, lodging, technology, etc.
"I don't believe the playing field [for minorities] is all the way level, even though we've made great strides to make it so," Reid said. "I believe help is still needed."