Shannon Rickert, an owner-operator in the Forward Air fleet and an early participant in the 150 Business Challenge, still remembers the day in 1995 when she looked out the window of her office building and saw a big truck in the street. Having earned a master’s degree in business management with an emphasis on accounting and finance, Shannon held a steady corporate position and a career path with opportunities for advancement.
As she studied the big rig outside her window, the truck called to her sense of adventure. Suddenly, Shannon began thinking about the career possibilities that existed outside the confines of her comfortable office building and an 8-to-5 weekday schedule. Two of her overriding thoughts in the moment were these: “I wonder how hard it would be to do that job? If I drove a truck, could I be my own boss?”
Shannon thought more about the possibilities that could be found in the trucking industry. She then made one of the most important decisions of her life when she left the comforts of the corporate world to enroll in a trucking school. Fast-forward to 2017 when Shannon found the answer to the second question by following the path to ownership and becoming her own boss through the 150 Business Challenge, a collaborative program developed by Expediter Services (ES) and the Women In Trucking Association that is focused on creating 150 women-owned businesses in transportation.
The final step to becoming her own boss in the trucking industry was taken when Shannon went through the qualification process with ES and Forward Air, and a new family business was born. We Own It, LLC. is the company that Shannon, her husband, Edwin, and her sons own and operate. As she reflects back on her journey in trucking, Shannon knows the road that delivered the realization of her truck ownership dream began on the day 23 years ago when she looked out her office window.
“Six weeks after I saw that big truck outside our office, I had my CDL and I was a truck driver,” said Shannon. “For me, the basic attraction with trucking was to be able to get out on the road and not have anyone looking over my shoulder. From the start, I loved the freedom that it gave me, and I always believed that trucking would give me the chance to be my own boss.”
Starting her trucking career in the mid- to late-1990s as a solo female driver on the truckload side of the industry, Shannon encountered many challenges. One of the toughest tests in those early days was finding truck stops that included separate showers for women.
“The early days of my career were not always easy. There have been a lot of positive changes in the industry and for women in the industry over the past 23 years,” offered Shannon.
As a single mother with a school-aged son, Shannon worked with her truckload carrier at the time by taking an innovative approach to family life. Shannon went through the process for setting up homeschooling, and the carrier made it possible for her to become a true industry trailblazer. Shannon was allowed to be one of the first professional drivers to homeschool her child aboard a working big rig.
“I can’t say enough about having that opportunity to have my son with me 24/7 at that time aboard the truck,” explained Shannon. “It was one of those times when you felt anything could be possible in trucking.”
The time out on the road left a lasting impression on Shannon’s son, Joshua. Like his mother, Joshua saw the opportunities the industry offered. He talked with his older brother, Dustin, and they both earned their CDLs. As listeners will hear in the SuccessInTrucking.com Podcast with Shannon, it was through her sons’ introduction to the trucking industry that Shannon met Edwin, the man who became her husband and team partner.
“Trucking has opened a lot of doors and provided me with a lot of opportunities,” said Shannon. “I look back at my career in trucking and it was the right move for me. Trucking has allowed me to realize my dream of becoming my own boss. You can’t ask for much more than that. The opportunity provided by Expediter Services and Forward Air to realize the dream of true truck ownership and to run a business has been the best experience of all my years in the trucking industry.”