Faces of Trucking: Lisa - Driver of the Year for JRayl

There are over 3.5 million truckers in America, and 3.5 million great trucking stories. This one is about Lisa, check it out!

“I always tell people I’m a paid sightseer because, through driving, I get to see parts of the country that other people will never get to see!”

“I love all the adventures. I like challenging myself, going to new places and meeting new people!”

This isn’t Lisa’s first rodeo. She spent several years in her 20s team driving across the country before the company she worked for shut down, forcing her into a factory job. She loved driving then as much as she does today. Her positivity and excitement shine through every word she speaks, and the thrill is contagious. It’s easy to see why she won JRyal’s Driver of the Year award: Driving is as much a career as it is a way of life, and Lisa has embraced everything about it.

On Being Named Driver of the Year

Women are a minority in the trucking industry. So it came as quite a surprise and extreme honor when Lisa was informed that she won JRayl’s esteemed Driver of the Year award—she beat out more than 350 drivers, with less than 5 percent of them women. She giggles when she mentions the fact that she even surpassed her husband and brother, both of whom drive for JRayl.

In addition to Lisa’s positive attitude, her superior delivery performance and having one of the lowest idle percentages in the fleet were factored into the win. She’s also been accident and incident free since she joined the JRayl family twelve years ago.

Completely overwhelmed by the honor of Driver of the Year, Lisa is now considering where to go on her complimentary five-day cruise, a major perk of her award. Previously, before an oceanic vacation was on the table, she and her husband had talked about heading to South Dakota for their next trip, the one state they’ve yet to see. Being from Indiana, and in the throes of a typical freezing Midwestern winter, she’s instead seriously considering the Bahamas or somewhere else warm.

On Trucking

Lisa loves being a truck driver. You can hear it in her voice, the way she gushes when she talks about what she does for a living. She works hard, putting in 13 to 14 hours a day, five days a week. In fact, one time when her husband subbed for her while she was away on a Vegas girls’ trip, he called her and begged her to come home—he was having a hard time keeping her schedule. “I run,” she says. “I don’t stop; I keep going. I figure, I’m already in my truck, so I might as well.”

Her schedule allows her to sleep home every night, which is a good thing because she has her cat and dog to take care of. She’s grateful her husband is home from his route a couple of nights a week, as well as every weekend, because they get to spend that time together. They used to drive team, but she laughingly says she thinks it’s better for any marriage to not be stuck “in a closet, 24/7,” with your spouse.

She enjoys the bonds she makes with the employees at the places she delivers to. And she especially loves the travel and the independence that comes from being behind the wheel.

“I worked in a factory, and I swore I’d never go back to a factory job. I like the freedom of trucking; it’s one of the best parts. Every day is different. It’s not the same thing day after day. You’re not going in, punching a clock, doing your job, and punching out.”

Lisa appreciates some of the challenges she faces, particularly backing into docks. She prides herself on hitting the mark on the first try, and she cracks up at the shock she causes when she exits the truck. Those unloading say this 5’ 2” woman gets the job done better than many men.

On Running into Problems

She doesn’t have much to complain about when it comes to trucking. Overall, she is exceptionally happy with her career and life. Lisa will say that there is occasional male trucker who nitpicks at his female counterparts. Her assessment is that “they feel intimidated.” She hasn’t encountered too many issues, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Drama over the CB radio is another issue many drivers face. Lisa suggests not going out on runs with one. She keeps hers in her truck but rarely turns it on. She thinks driving is a great career for women, as long as they keep their CB use to a minimum and can drive at night.

At night, other truckers can’t tell who’s behind the wheel, and it can get pretty humorous, she says. One time, she had a bunch of trucks following behind her through a detour. Deciding to turn on her CB, she heard the other truckers mentioning the fact that they were trailing behind a JRayl truck, and they sure hoped HE knew where he was going. She jumped right into the conversation to answer, “Hey, you’re following a woman. And yes, I know exactly where I’m going, so feel free to follow!” She said everyone got a good laugh.

She does get annoyed with a small issue she encounters, one that many people who brave the winters can understand. Between the snowy roads and the subzero temperatures, she’s had to slide underneath her trailer and knock her frozen brakes loose. Other than that, she says it’s just like anything else: You get what you put into it.

On JRayl

JRayl has been good to Lisa. In fact, she claims the carrier is “the absolute best” to work for. It’s nice to hear someone speak so positively about an employer, and Lisa wholeheartedly stands by her opinion. “Oh my gosh, they’ve been the best. I’ve worked for other companies, and JRayl outdoes them!”

She says they truly care about their employees and their families, which helps fuel her desire to work hard. Between the teambuilding events the company holds regularly and the firm belief that it’s their drivers who keep the company moving—plus the revamp of the terminals that made them more driver-friendly—JRayl does more than talk the talk.

Words of Advice

When asked what advice she’d give to others who are thinking about going into trucking, Lisa doesn’t hold back her enthusiasm. “Do it! Just do it! If you’re thinking about it, if it’s something that you’ve been considering, then go for it!” She doesn’t feel like anyone has anything to lose when it comes to driving trucks: You’re doing something positive for the country you’re lucky to be driving across.

Trucking school was harder this time around than it was when she did it the first time. Years ago, there were only ten questions to answer to get your CDL A. Now, you have to study longer because you’re tested on everything from the front to back bumper. “It’s gotten harder, and that’s a good thing.”

Her advice to both old and new drivers: “If you’re tired, then you need to pull over, pull into a stop, and sleep.” One of her biggest fears is that she’ll fall asleep behind the wheel, so she’s super diligent about following her own advice.

“You know you can do some serious damage in a truck, with those 80,000 pounds cruising down the road!” She can go five or so hours before she needs to rest, but she listens to her body if she’s tired sooner.

Our Congratulations

The trucks may be huge, but the responsibility that comes with the job is even greater. Without truck drivers, there would be no non-stop deliveries of gas, clothes, food … nothing. So thank you to Lisa, and all the drivers out there, for all that you do to keep things running smoothly! And a big congratulations to Lisa on a well-deserved Driver of the Year award!

JRayl Transport Inc. is an Akron, Ohio-based, family owned and operated logistics solution provider. JRayl has experienced tremendous growth over the last decade while maintaining a close family atmosphere. Currently employing over 400 employees in multiple strategic locations, JRayl builds family relationships that allow people to find loads, ship freight, and welcomes drivers home weekly!

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