Trump meets with 100-truck fleet owner to talk small business challenges

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Updated Aug 6, 2017
Sherri Brumbaugh, left, poses for a photo at the White House on Tuesday with ATA VP Bill Sullivan and Greene Group CEO Tana Greene.Sherri Brumbaugh, left, poses for a photo at the White House on Tuesday with ATA VP Bill Sullivan and Greene Group CEO Tana Greene.

The second-generation owner of a 100-truck carrier had the ear of both President Trump and one of his closest advisors, daughter Ivanka Trump, this week at the White House.

Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, president, CEO and owner of Garner Trucking, says she pressed the Trumps on one of the industry’s biggest challenges: Finding and retaining skilled laborers, particularly for driving and technician jobs.

“Finding a qualified workforce — truck drivers and technicians — is a huge challenge for us in this industry,” Brumbaugh said in an exclusive Overdrive interview. “My question to Mrs. Trump was what can the administration do to tackle this problem so that we can find a qualified workforce for good paying jobs.”

Garner, front, with Garner Trucking employees.Garner, front, with Garner Trucking employees.

Brumbaugh said she also mentioned at the meeting the challenges that regulations pose on the industry’s productivity and profitability. But, she says, she kept the conversation high-level, given the detailed nature of trucking industry regulations.

Brumbaugh’s meeting with the Trumps at the White House was part of a listening session organized by the Small Business Administration. Brumbaugh says there were about 100 people present in the meeting, with representatives from small businesses across all sectors of the economy. “They were interested in gathering information from small businesses — what are the barriers we’re facing, what can they do as an administration to remove those roadblocks,” Brumbaugh said. “They can’t fix what they don’t know, so listening to small businesses — people that are providing jobs — is the first step to making a difference.”

Brumbaugh’s 100-truck fleet employs 150 people, she says.

In addition to President Trump and Ivanka, Brumbaugh says several other high-profile White House staffers were present, including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, new Chief of Staff General Michael Kelly and White House advisor KellyAnne Conway.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also attended the meeting, Brumbaugh said. Rubio is a member of the Senate’s Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. Also in attendance was SBA Administrator Linda McMahon, the co-founder and former CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), among other prominent private sector positions.

Brumbaugh has headed Garner Trucking since 2008, when she assumed the roles of president and CEO. She became owner of the business in 2012, taking over for her parents, who founded the carrier as a single-truck owner-operator business 50 years ago. Brumbaugh has a master’s degree in education, and she spent a short stint of her professional career as a teacher. She left teaching to work for Garner in 1990.

She scored the spot in the White House’s small business meeting via an invitation from the American Trucking Associations. The White House contacted ATA to see if there were members who had recently utilized a Small Business Administration loan.

Garner Trucking secured an SBA loan in 2016 to purchase a truck and trailer repair business. “And we had some growth last year,” says Brumbaugh,” so that was why we connected with the White House.”

Earlier this year, Trump met with a group of trucking industry executives and a few drivers in the White House to talk about infrastructure funding. ATA organized that meeting with the White House.