Meet Michelle Waggener
Michelle Waggener is a driver manager for Transpro Burgener. Transpro asked Michelle if she would be willing to share her story about being a woman in the trucking industry, and what she did to get here. These are her words below.
After being told all my life that trucking wasn’t for females, at age 30 I decided to go against the trend and give it a shot. It’s something that always intrigued me. So off on a new adventure, I went. For the most part, I was welcomed into this industry with open arms. I would occasionally run into a customer or fellow driver that was not welcoming, but for the most part, I was accepted as just another driver. I spent 9 years driving long haul, but as my husband joined the military and we started have a family, I was no longer able to spend time away from home. I think that is the hardest part for me as a female. The inherent need to stay home and raise my children. This means that I must leave my career behind at least for a few years. In the trucking industry, there is no such thing as driving a truck during daycare hours.
Once my children became old enough, I found a job at a truck driving school as an instructor and a 3rd party examiner. I think this is where I met the most resistance in my career. So many students did not think a female was qualified to teach a man how to drive a truck. It was truly an uphill battle. As a result, I chose to go back to school and earn a degree in business so that one day I could have a career that would allow me the best of both worlds: being a mom and being in the trucking industry.
As I left the school, I decided to look for a local job in hopes that I could accomplish my goals. I came across a company called “Transpro Burgener Trucking”. I applied only because I was curious. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I was capable of working for an aggregate company. There was certainly no way I could handle all the hoses on the pneumatic trailers. However, as I sat in the interview, I was convinced to simply give it a shot. Let’s see what I could do. So, I ventured into a new area of trucking.
I received excellent training and was quickly able to learn how to run the trailers. It wasn’t so much strength as it was technique. I found the other drivers to be more than helpful. As a matter of fact, many found it refreshing that there was no bias on gender or age. While driving, I completed my AAS in Business Administration and began work on my Bachelor’s degree. The company was not only helpful in making sure I had time to do my school work, but they encouraged it. When a management position came open, not only was I considered for the position, but was promoted.
Has this journey been easy? Absolutely not! I’ve spent many nights freezing in a cold truck waiting for a tow truck. Many summer days in the desert without air-conditioning trying to get to a shop for repairs. Many days so dirty I could be a good candidate for the show “Dirty Jobs”. And many days that I didn’t get so dirty, but was unable to find a shower. But has it all been worth it? Absolutely! I know, without a doubt, that I will never have to worry about the ability to earn a paycheck. I know that I have a skill that is highly sought after. Now after 18 years, I am in the office learning yet another valuable skill as a driver manager, all thanks to an industry that has welcomed me with open arms. Thanks to an industry that has not seen me as a female, but as a capable employee.
Transpro is always looking for dedicated drivers like Michelle. We offer full benefits including paid time off, health insurance, driver appreciation days, and more! See available openings on our career page for details.