Tamara Spivey is a BCO owner operator for Landstar based out of Atlanta, Ga., and a member of the SHE Trucking community. Trucker Tools recently spoke with Tamara to learn more about how and why she got into trucking and about her 20-year career in the industry. We spoke to Tamara about her mentorship of new drivers and her journey from company driver to owner operator. In our interview with Tamara below, she also shares tips for parking your rig in Atlanta and names her favorite features in Trucker Tools’ free driver app.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get into trucking and what do you do?
“My name is Tamara Spivey and I’m from Atlanta, Ga. I’ve been 20 years in the trucking industry. When I first started thinking about trucking, I didn’t need a new job at the time, but I was at a crossroads in my life. I was a CNA at the time, sitting in typical morning traffic one day, and I saw a woman driving a U.S. Express truck. I thought to myself, ‘If she can do that, I can do it.’ It was just like that. I looked through the yellow pages at the time for trucking schools and started studying. I went to the Georgia Driving Academy in 1999 for nine weekends of trucking school. I continued in my job at the time to make sure I had income while I went to trucking school. Two to three weeks after I finished trucking school, I was behind the wheel.
If someone says I can’t do something, I’m always up for the challenge. I made it a personal challenge for myself to learn to drive truck. I don’t have kids and nothing was holding me back. I like the challenges of trucking and I’m used to travelling alone.”
What made you decide to go from working as a company driver to becoming an owner operator/Business Capacity Owner with Landstar?
“This is not my first go around with being an owner operator. I was working for a company out of Omaha, Neb. for a while, Hill Bros. Honestly, I was uneducated about the business side of being an owner operator in my first go around. I just wanted to run. When we’re young, we sometimes think we’re superwoman, and no one can tell us anything. I fell flat on my face the first time that I was an owner operator.
Most recently, I was driving for a company, RWH out of Oakwood, Ga., that I loved, but it went out of business. After lots of thought and knowing that I have more money to put into it this time around, I decided to become an owner operator again. As a BCO with Landstar, I choose my own freight and set my own schedule.”
Do you use Trucker Tools’ driver app? If so, what are your favorite features and why?
I do! I use the Trucker Tools driver app for finding fuel stops and places to park. It works well and is on point.
You’re based in Atlanta and the metro Atlanta area is known to be a tough spot for finding truck parking and traffic. How do you deal with these issues?
“With more and more trucks on the road, paid parking is the way to go. That’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years. If you’re coming into the city and need parking, you have to start looking for parking 24 hours before you arrive. I usually park near I-285 in the metro Atlanta area. I often park off exit 26 of I-285, right by the Pilot truck stop. South of Atlanta, I usually do reserved parking at Petrol or other paid parking sites, which usually costs about $10-15/day.”
Can you tell us about your mentorship of new truckers? Why is mentoring new drivers so important?
“I was a trainer some years ago. Things have changed over the years and how training is done has changed. Back when I was first starting out, you had to seek out veteran truckers for advice. Moving forward generationally, the younger generation always needs a little advice and for someone to help them along the way. I see people making mistakes along the way. If they can reach out and speak to a veteran driver, they’ll have a better understanding of things in the industry. I want to help new drivers, but I don’t want to overstep boundaries.”
What advice do you have for new drivers?
“Generationally, we’re so different. A lot of new drivers right now are thinking they’ll drive for six months and then become owner operators. I recommend that you drive for someone else for at least two years first. Being an owner operator is not all of what it seems. You can take lots of courses, but it’s all about the experience you’re going to get yourself.
It’s about managing your time and money. Once you become an owner operator, it’s just totally different. You have to think of all of the things that you never thought of as a company driver. As an owner operator, it’s not that easy. It’s all your responsibility as an owner operator.
If you’re getting ready to make the transition from a company driver to an owner op, remember that on top of a down payment for a truck, you need to have money saved for repairs. The warranty on your truck will only cover so much. I always have some savings. I recommend that new owner operators have at least $10,000 saved for repairs when they start out. I also recommend that you set specific financial goals for yourself.”
You can learn more about Tamara by visiting https://www.facebook.com/sistablogging/.
Looking for more tips from veteran drivers? Read Trucker G’s Tips for a Long, Successful Career in Trucking. To download Trucker Tools’ free driver app, visit https://www.truckertools.com/web/carriers/.