D’Ann Shapiro-Landman worked in law enforcement her whole life, until she and her husband decided a few years ago to do something totally different.
“When we were dating, he spoke to me about his thoughts on possibly taking the plunge and buying his own truck,” she says. “I thought it was a great idea! Buy your own truck, start your own business, make own your rules! What could be better?”
Those words haunted her as the idea got put on hold. She and her trucker fell in love and got married and continued the “separate but together” life of many truckers and their wives. After some time, they decided they weren’t happy with that. They threw caution to the wind — she gave up her job and everything back home and she got on the truck as the full-time support system.
“That’s when it hit me: I had worked in law enforcement my whole adult life! I knew nothing about the trucking industry!”
So she did what only made sense – she began learning.
What’s a broker? Who decides on the loads? Where does the fuel route come into play? Bridge laws, weigh stations, toll roads … which truck stops have the better coffee? Who gives more loyalty points? Best showers?
D’Ann is a note taker and a list maker, and she made a lot of lists. She learned to talk to brokers and get detention pay where none was offered. She learned to figure out routes and decipher a fuel surcharge. She started taking over more and more of the paperwork and letting her husband focus on the driving.
Her husband taught her a lot over the miles. And she started talking to other drivers when they stopped for fuel or a bite to eat. She spoke with new drivers still learning and drivers that have been on the road since before she was born. She researched companies, lease-purchase programs, and lenders. She talked to mechanics and techs at the shops. She talked to other truckers’ wives and picked their brains for knowledge and recipes so she could learn how to cook in the truck. She wanted to know everything.
One night, as they pulled into a truck stop, she and her husband looked at each other and he said, “We can do this, we can own our own truck.”
In the next couple of months, D’Ann and her husband, Randy, plan to take that leap and become owner-operators. She has promoted herself to office manager and handles the day-to-day paperwork and phone calls out of her “glove-box office.” She’s also adopted the position of shotgun, and yells at the four-wheelers who cut them off in traffic. The trick of singing at the top of her lungs along with the 80s station often gets a smile out of her husband when said four-wheelers cause him stress. Handling the food, laundry, receipt tracking and the TripPaks are easy stuff for her these days, but she leaves the driving to her trucker.