Trucker Tools recently spoke with Gabrielle Simmons to learn more about what her first two years as an owner operator have been like and to find out how she uses Trucker Tools’ free driver app daily on the road. In our interview with Gabrielle, she shares the story of how she fell in love with trucking at the age of 18 and why she chose Schneider’s lease-to-own program for her first trucking job. Gabrielle also spoke to us about how she got involved with SHE Trucking and what made her decide to give up dry van a few months ago to become a bulk hazmat driver for Dana Transport.
Thanks for speaking with us today, Gabrielle! To start off, can you tell us about what kind of trucking you do?
“I’m an owner operator and I do bulk hazmat trucking pulling a giant tank that’s usually filled with hazardous materials. I’ve only been doing this type of trucking for about five months now. Prior to that, I was pulling dry van as an owner operator lease-to-own at Schneider national. I started my trucking career with Schneider. I put myself through truck driving school to get my Class A license and then I found Schneider.
I went with Schneider because they offered the shortest amount of on the road training time with a driver. I drove for them as a company driver for nine months before buying my truck on lease purchase. Also, Schneider has new equipment and automatic trucks. Even though I trained on manual, I didn’t want to drive a manual full time. Their pay was the second highest pay per mile when I was looking around and deciding what to do, plus all their other great features like terminals with free showers and free laundry.
A good friend of mine who I met at Schneider came over to this company Dana Transport doing hazmat and he loved it. He told me how much he was making and it was more than the money than I was making at Schneider, so I made the change and brought my truck with me. I’m currently in my second year of trucking as an owner operator based in Colorado. I’m buying a house this month actually, but up until this point, I’ve literally lived in my truck. I have not had a residence of my own for almost three years. I just actually bought a duplex so I can rent one of the units out.”
What did you do before trucking?
“I was in the remodeling business for about four years mostly doing countertops and cabinets, the sales and design end of it mostly, and some installing — a little bit of everything.”
What got you interested in trucking?
“I had a friend who wanted nothing more than to become a truck driver. So, I helped him get his own authority and buy a truck. He had no experience, but just went and bought a truck. He ended up leasing with a company and I went on the road with him for seven months and got a taste of it and saw how easy it can be. It’s just really fun, you know, to travel the whole country and get paid to do it, and it’s really good pay. It just drew me in. I was 18 at the time when I kind of fell in love with trucking, I guess you could say. I didn’t actually go to truck driving school and make the leap until I was 22. That was almost three years ago.”
Did you have a mentor or any guidance in setting up your owner operator business?
“YouTube, lots of research and figuring it out the hard way.”
How did you become involved with SHE Trucking?
“I think I searched ‘women’s trucking group’ before I even got my CDL and became part of the SHE Trucking group. I didn’t really start interacting with the ladies from SHE Trucking until last year. Since then, I’ve gotten to know many women from the group. I was asked to be on the SHE Trucking podcast about a month ago and that was awesome. Several women from the group have reached out to me for help in learning about real estate investing and wholesaling, in addition to asking me about truck driving and being an owner operator. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from some of the women in the group and also offer some help to several women in the group, as well.”
Can you tell us how you use the Trucker Tools driver app?
“When I was on the road with my friend years ago, I would help him with trip planning and that’s how I found Trucker Tools’ driver app. It was recommended to us by a friend who’d been in trucking for 12 years. The app is so user friendly. It’s been updated several times over the last five years, but it’s always been very user friendly. The help that Trucker Tools provides us is amazing. I use the driver app every day for finding places to park. I also use it for finding fuel prices and seeing what restaurants are in the truck stops. We always need to eat, right? That’s usually one of the main concerns, where am I going and what food do they have. The fuel prices and trip planning, for sure, are helpful for owner operators.”
I use the driver app every day for finding places to park. I also use it for finding fuel prices and seeing what restaurants are in the truck stops. We always need to eat, right? That’s usually one of the main concerns, where am I going and what food do they have. The fuel prices and trip planning, for sure, are helpful for owner operators.
What this year has been like for you as a new owner operator during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I definitely have seen a slowdown in freight. There aren’t a whole lot of options out there right now and I’m sitting a little bit more than usual. Overall, freight has really dried up, and prices have decreased some, but it’s mostly the decreasing availability of freight that’s having a big impact.”
If you’d like to learn more about Gabrielle, follow her on Instagram.
Discover how Trucker Tools’ free driver app can help your trucking business increase efficiency and profit margins by reading The Best Things in Life Are Free — Including the 17+ Tools and Features in Trucker Tools’ Driver App. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.