Traditionally, truck driving has been a male dominated industry. Over the years, many sons have followed in their father’s footsteps continuing their family tradition. In 1970, the entire transportation workforce consisted of 95.3% male workers verses 4.7% female laborers. In October of 2021, Women in Trucking reported female Class A CDL holders make up nearly 10% of the current driving force.
Darci Wickman recalls growing up around her father’s trucks. As a little girl, she would ride along with him. When Darci turned fourteen, they traveled to New Mexico. There she saw the famous White Sands and realized she wanted to drive truck someday.
“I knew after that trip I wanted to drive truck, but life happens. I got married, had children, and went to work locally. For the last three years, I managed a convenience store while saving money to begin my trucking career. Dad tried to talk me out of it due to the negative impact it can have on a family,” Darci shared.
In 1986, her father, Dennis Reid, quit his job in the oilfield and invested in a semi-truck with a grain trailer. Dennis has made his living the past thirty-plus years driving truck. He joined National Carriers in November of 2016, as a company driver. The following year he was recognized as a finalist for 2017 Driver of the Year.
Dennis recalled, “I discouraged Darci from driving truck. It can be difficult and lonely when you are out on the road alone. I did not think it was a good lifestyle for her, however she is strong-willed. Once she earned her CDL, National Carriers allowed me to be her trainer. I was not easy on her, but she was determined. I can now say I am very proud of her and what she has accomplished.”
“Dad introduced me to National Carriers. The company is family-oriented, and the safety department let him train me. As a trainer, he was hard, but fair. While coaching me he was very patient. Normally, he is not! I have found that I love over-the-road driving. I like waking up each day to something and somewhere new. I see myself doing this long-term. It’s still scary, but I’m figuring it out,” Darci concluded.
At twenty-two years of age, our next second-generation driver is one of our youngest. As a child, Karen Rivera didn’t understand her father Omar Soto’s job. She just knew he was gone a lot. As she matured, she realized what he did as a truck driver. When COVID 19 closed the public school where she worked, Karen decided to attend a local community college where she earned her degree.
Karen explained, “While working on my degree in general studies I pursued my Class A CDL. The trucks at the school were all manual transmissions and I thought I would not be able to learn how to drive stick. I was surprised at how quickly I caught on. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. However, I was super nervous learning to back up a truck and trailer. By the end of the program, I felt good about backing. Since my father worked at National Carriers, I entered their training program.”
“During training, I felt the required 7,500 miles was taking forever. Finally, I hit those miles and was left to be on my own. To my surprise I was super nervous because I was driving all by myself. I was not used to being alone in such a huge vehicle while going places for the first time. I love visiting states and cities I had never been to. It is such a great experience. And the most rewarding benefit of the job? The pay! It is a popular answer, but it is the truth,” she shared.
Her father Omar joined National Carriers in 2012. He owns his own truck and transports tallow from the local beef processing plant. His job is something he enjoys doing, it pays well, and it allows him to be home every day. He is happy his daughter is driving truck although he wishes she had furthered her education first.
Omar voiced his concerns, “I advise Karen on safety issues. Since she has just begun in this industry, she doesn’t have much experience. As her father, I worry for her safety each day she leaves to deliver loads.”
“We have always welcomed qualified drivers at National Carriers. Through the years we have had many husband-and-wife teams or ladies who have driven solo. However, this is the first time in our history that we have had fathers and daughters operating separate trucks within our transportation family. This is a proud moment for all of us , especially the Dads ” Happy Father’s Day! stated President Jim Franck.