Tonya Parker, Shaun Goss - C.R. England, Inc.
The old saying, “Sugar and spice and everything nice,” needs to be updated to “desire and tenacity with an eye on safety” when referring to Tonya Parker and Shaun Goss, C.R. England’s newest female driving team.
While there are approximately 1.3 million long-haul heavy-duty truck drivers in the United States, less than 5 percent are women. Ironically, driver trainers typically say that women are better students than men, because of their desire to learn. And industry insiders anecdotally say that women’s accident rates are much lower than those of their male counterparts.
This C.R. England team agrees with those driver trainers and hopes the industry insiders are right…at least they’ll do their part to make that statement true.
“We’ve worked really hard to get to this point,” says Tonya, who along with Shaun recently drove away their newly leased truck following a recent snowstorm in Utah. “We are determined to succeed.”
Tonya and Shaun, both from Grayling, MI, have been friends for more than six years. When they saw a television commercial for truck driving, they knew their destiny, though it would not be easy to reach.
“As a young girl, I always wanted to be a truck driver,” says Tonya, who is 38 years old. “My kids are grown, and now I have the opportunity to chase my dreams.” But for Shaun, the motivating factor to change careers was a little more simplistic.
“I liked the idea of traveling,” says Shaun, who is 35 years old. “I also liked the idea of having heat!”
Previously, Shaun worked as a lumber grader in a sawmill making about $19,000 annually while suffering through the cold Michigan winters. Parker worked as a cashier at Home Depot, making about $10,000 annually.
As independent operators and a team, Tonya and Shaun have the potential to make more than $100,000 annually. But it’s not just the money.
“This way, I get paid to travel,” said Parker. “And as an independent contractor, we’ll have more opportunities overall like more miles, better loads and priority loads.”
Being a female in a male-dominated industry hasn’t been too bad, either.
The men “kind of trip over themselves to help you,” says Parker. “Overall, I think the men want you to succeed, but they also expect you to pull your own weight.” So Parker and Goss haven’t become independent contractors on a wink and a smile; they’ve worked hard.
“We had great teachers, making it a pleasure to go to school each day,” says Tonya. “School was hard at times, and we expect it to be tough on the road.”
They hope their hard work in driving school will pay off with a safe career that will allow them to save big for retirement.
“Then we’ll travel some more—outside the United States,” says Shaun with a gleam in her eye.
And if other women are interested in a career on the open road, Goss offers this bit of advice, “As women, we’re not afraid to ask for directions out on the road, so don’t be afraid to ask questions of your instructors.”
The staff of Over the Road and Pro Trucker magazines would like to wish Tonya and Shaun continued success with C.R. England, Inc. For more information on driving opportunities at C.R. England, see their ad on page 5 of this issue, call one of their recruiters at (800) 356-5046 or visit www.crengland.net.