Ruan is happy to feature several of our team members across the country in our People First Spotlight. This month, meet Jeannine Marie Sparks (left) and Cynthia Munoz (right), team truck drivers based out of our Cedar Falls, IA, operation. As team drivers, Jeannine and Cynthia deliver groceries in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Northern Minnesota. They utilize a 12-hour rotating schedule where one driver is active for half of the day.
Q: Why did you enter the trucking industry, and what has your career path looked like?
Jeannine: Trucking runs in my family as my grandfather was a retired truck driver. While I served in the Marine Corps, I was a diesel mechanic, and after that I decided to stick with truck driving. I tried various office jobs but driving ended up being the obvious choice for me. Before I landed as a driver, I was the only female in the transportation department working with all men. I quickly found that driving was a better fit for me! I started as a team driver with Swift, then drove a local route out of Los Angeles, CA. I hauled everything from groceries, auto parts, beer, flatbed, tanks, and hazmat loads. I drove as a team for two years and then switched to solo. When I originally worked in a team, we worked five hours on and five hours off, which was hard. Eventually the schedule started to wear on us, so we moved to driving for Costco, then to Ruan last year.
Cynthia: I like to say I started driving at seven years old. My dad was a truck driver, who would take me with him on his hauls. I also have a couple family members who are drivers. I used to tell my dad when I was young that I wanted to be a truck driver. He, of course, would tell me it is not for women, but look at me now! My dad telling me I shouldn’t be a truck driver just made me work extra hard to prove driving is for women. We are all equal, and any job a man can do, a woman can do, too. I got my first job as a driver in 2015, and I went OTR six months later. While training, the instructors often singled me out and made me do things on my own like moving tarps. I had to prove myself on the spot. It was tough, but it made me stronger. Working OTR means working in extreme weather conditions and often without any help. I’m constantly getting strange looks and being asked where my husband is. I love to show them I don’t need a man with me to get the job done.
Q: What advice do you have for women looking to join the trucking industry?
Jeannine: I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many women over the years. My advice is always if you want to get into trucking, go to school, get your license, and find a great company. There are tons of options out there, so be sure to be picky and find the company that fits you best. There are always ups and downs, but it’s worth it and can definitely be done.
Cynthia: It’s not a typical 9 to 5 job, but for many of us, that’s ideal. When you find the right company with the right routes and the right pay, you will be financially secure. Trucking is the reason I have a new house and can afford to travel and have so many hobbies. I also like knowing that we deliver goods the country truly needs. Without drivers, the world stops. The food on the table was brought to you by a truck driver. It’s an important and vital industry.
Q: What is it like to be a team driver?
Cynthia: This is not my first time driving as a team. The first time around took some getting used to. It’s always tough at first to sleep in a moving truck, and sharing a small space is difficult no matter how close you are with your partner. Over time you get used to sleeping on the road, and if you have a good partner, you quickly learn how to work and live together. Jeannine and I had been thinking about teaming up for some time. The money is good, and we trust each other. We have each other’s backs, which is super important when you’re traveling in an area you don’t know and could be dangerous. With Jeannine, we have comradery and safety.
Jeannine: This is my first time driving as a team again for a while. I’m excited because it’s definitely easier for me if I have someone in the truck with me. We can share ideas, short stops here and there aren’t a big deal because you have someone else to watch the truck, and the pay is better. Trucking can be a bit dangerous, depending on where you’re at, so having a second person with me is a huge safety factor. Being a female driver comes with its own set of challenges, so having a second person with me helps with any concerns about safety.
Q: How has your transition to working for Ruan been?
Jeannine: I originally looked at Ruan when I was in California. I wasn’t ready at the time, but when we moved back to Iowa, everything kind of lined up. The pay was great, and I am able to work with Cynthia. This job fits us both, which was important.
Cynthia: The orientation was quick and easy. The videos weren’t the old ones you would find on VHS tapes, and our trainer, Casey, was funny and entertaining. The shop is small and they’re able to get the truck in quickly for maintenance and repairs. Everyone has been friendly and willing to answer any questions I have.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
Cynthia: In my free time I like to go fishing, shopping, watch movies, bowl, visit amusement parks, and spend quality time with my family. I also like to travel. My favorite destination is the Florida Keys where the water is clear and we can catch a variety of fish, including sharks!
Jeannine: In my spare time I like to kayak, fish, play pool, travel, and fish some more. My family and I often go to Florida to do some deep-sea fishing, and I actually caught a shark the last time we were there! We can travel to Texas and back in three days and love to get in the car and go on road trips. We have a 10-year-old son, so we have lots of plans to take him places like Virginia, Branson, MO, the Wisconsin Dells, etc. This job enables me to spend more time with my son and our dog, which is important to us.
Are you interested in joining team Ruan? Check out our open driver positions!