Women in Trucking

Maria Finds CRST Is a Great Place to Work

February 10, 2020

New to Birmingham, Alabama, and newly divorced with two kids, Maria Gilbert wanted to do more than be a customer service manager at the local Walmart. When she saw a job opening for an administrative assistant at CRST that sounded “exciting and fantastic,” she went for it. Maria interviewed with Vice President of Sales, Tim Barth. Things went so well that she was offered the job on the spot and started two weeks later as a temp. Sixty days after that, she was called into Tim’s office and offered a permanent position. After eleven months as an administrative assistant with CRST Flatbed Solutions, Maria applied for a pricing analyst role in 2014. In 2017, she became a pricing manager.

“I love this company. I love what I do every day. I’m engaged with the people that we work with — our contractors and customers. I want to grow with the company and always have different experiences at CRST,” Maria said.

Lots to Do and Making a Big Impact

As a pricing manager, she oversees new business opportunities that come to the company from different customers. She reviews those opportunities and prices them, optimizing the overall transportation network to benefit contractors while also helping CRST contractors earn a livelihood. “You have to take a lot into consideration with this job. It’s not just about pricing things, winning new customers and completing bids. When hard deadlines come along and a bid isn’t turned in on time, you could potentially forget about seeing that business again. It can be busy and overwhelming at times when big tasks come through,” Maria said. Maria successfully juggles a lot in her role. She creates dedicated freight lanes for contractors. She works contracts back and forth between legal departments and customers. When it comes to pricing, she considers layover time, detention, cargo liability, driving and loading time, whether the load is legal or over-dimensional in size and protection of the company and contractors hauling the loads. “At the end of the day, you’re affecting the business and people’s livelihood. If we can win the bid and execute the business, it is a very satisfying feeling, and I know my job has been done right,” Maria said. It excites Maria to see the impact her job has on the entire company and drivers. “Our department affects so many other departments at CRST. I get to assist in training people in operations and customer service. I get to touch a lot of departments because of the knowledge I have and what I do for CRST’s customers. The more I know, the more I can help people learn and grow," she said. She wants the best for drivers and cares deeply about everyone’s well-being. “It’s exciting that I am able to help, not only myself, give opportunities for growth, but also be valuable to the company. CRST allows me to do that,” Maria said.

Making a Difference in Multiple Ways

Volunteering is a large part of Maria’s life — both at church and at work. Each year, CRST participates in a fundraising campaign for United Way. Maria enjoys being one of the driving forces of the campaign and urging her coworkers to donate for the greater good. She said in 2018, Flatbed Solutions raised $8,065 and increased that by 10% in 2019. Their efforts are then matched by CRST Chairman John Smith. Every day at work is different, Maria said. Logistics continually change and challenges are met, including the challenges women face in trucking. The mentorship and support of other women is the key, Maria said. “The women that I have seen be successful in this industry stand behind each other and mentor each other. They help each other learn and be successful,” Maria said. A good dose of confidence doesn’t hurt, either. “Mistakes will be made, whether you are a man or a woman, but don’t take things personally. Stand behind your decisions, learn as much as you can, call on other women within trucking and logistics to ask for their advice or help, and do not be afraid to ask questions,” Maria said.

Keeping our Women Safe

January 02, 2020

As we embark on a new year, I can’t help but reflect on the many stories we have shared with you about the tremendous talent we have at CRST. In this blog, we’ve highlighted 18 of our female driving partners and administrative staff – covering everything from their ‘Words of Wisdom’ - (both on the road and in our offices and shops), to ‘life stories’ they were proud to share. Each of these women had a deep sense of pride and loyalty, both to the industry and to CRST. As we’ve talked with these women, it became abundantly clear they wanted to pass along their ‘best practices’ and ‘life lessons’ to their fellow female drivers on the road. Out of this exercise, we did further research with assorted women safety blog sites, as well as the Women in Trucking organization. All of this culminated into a launch of several Focus Group meetings last month, where we encouraged female drivers to join us for a series of discussions on best practices. What we learned was that there was an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and discussion on how to stay ‘safe’ on the road, as a female driver in a male dominated industry.

I’m proud to share an outcome of those efforts: in December we launched a Women Safe initiative (starting initially with new female drivers with our Expedited Solutions team driving fleet). The Women Safe initiative is a supplemental orientation session, conducted by one of CRST’s HR professionals. All of the content was generated by our female driving partners who participated in the Focus Group meetings last year. Examples of some topics covered include:
  • Street Smarts: Safety Best Practices on the Road
  • Advice from Your Fellow Female Drivers
  • Having a Successful Driving Experience
  • Recommendations for a Safety App called Red Panic Button
  • Reminders about ‘who to call’ to ask for help
  • Self Defense Videos
  • Bystander Training
Some of the advice shared by our female driving partners: “Put your head on a ‘swivel’ – Always be looking side to side” “Don’t walk with your head down – Give off an air of confidence” “Don’t wear ear buds and leave your phone in the truck – have ALL of your senses available to sense danger” “Walk In – Walk Out – Take care of your business at truck stops and fueling stations and get back in the truck” “Be smart, use common sense – Most bad situations are avoidable” “Rather than yell ‘help’ if it’s needed, yell ‘FIRE’ – it draws more attention to the request” Our female driving partners have shared many great stories, feedback, life lessons and best practices with us. We are looking forward to continuing the ongoing feedback and will continue to keep you updated on next steps with this new initiative. Brooke Willey, VP – Human Resources

Helping Train Next Generation of Drivers

December 04, 2019

Cynthia Bryan, a resident of Ferndale, Washington, used to do truck drivers’ taxes. Today, she’s a truck driver herself. Knowing there was a shortage of team-drivers in the area — and with encouragement from her son, also a truck driver — she decided to get her CDL and get into trucking. In February of 2018, she started work at CRST as a team-driver, her first job in the industry. CRST managers quickly identified Cynthia as a candidate for a lead driver role, and quickly thereafter a senior team-lead, or trainer. “I like putting safe drivers on the road,” Cynthia said.

It’s All About Safety on the Road

Cynthia has been a trainer to many students, who spend 10,000 miles or 21 days in a truck with a trainer before they graduate to team-driver. “My job is to make sure I am putting safe drivers out there. I make sure they are taking care of their equipment and also not hurting themselves or others,” Cynthia said. She teaches them the basics of safety. “As a trainer, it’s about making sure students know how to move over for traffic or merging into traffic, downgrade safely and backing into parking lots or docks when it’s time to deliver a load,” Cynthia said. Cynthia’s manager, Traelei Annett-Jaeger, describes Cynthia as organized and on top of everything. “Nothing ever falls through the cracks,” Traelei said. Cynthia enjoys her role as team-lead and especially enjoys her students’ success. “The most rewarding part of being a team-lead with CRST has been watching the students graduate and seeing how much better they are and being able to put safe drivers on the road,” Cynthia said. Traelei said Cynthia even stays in touch with her former students to offer support and ensure they’re doing well. Cynthia lives 10 minutes from the Pacific Ocean, in the top corner of the Pacific Northwest near the Canadian border. She has made cross-country trips many times. Her favorite stretches of road to drive are I-40 and I-80, but she appreciates the variety of experiences and that every day in trucking is different. When Cynthia isn’t traveling from coast-to-coast or in a truck with a student, she likes watching the Seattle Seahawks and NASCAR and is a member of the Ferndale Lion’s Club.

Trucking Runs in the Family

October 04, 2019

Not All Heroes Wear Capes

September 03, 2019

Trucking Is in Shannon’s Blood

August 05, 2019

40 Years of Trucking and Stories

July 03, 2019

Earning Her Place and Providing for her Family

June 06, 2019

‘Ton of Fun’ Fleet Manager is a Positive Force

May 10, 2019

It’s an Adventure Out Here

April 08, 2019