It wasn’t hard to pick out Stephanie Klang at the Joplin, Missouri, airport. She was the one with the gorgeous silver hair and huge smile.
Or perhaps it was the sparkling tiara on her head that gave her away?
Turns out Klang wasn’t the only woman sporting a crown. Katlin Owens, senior marketing coordinator for Klang’s fleet, CFI, had one for herself and for me, too. Katlin and I joked that we were Klang’s ladies-in-waiting.
So what’s up with the glitzy headgear? Klang is the 2017 Overdrive’s Most Beautiful winner. I was there to interview her, coordinate her photo and video shoot with CFI’s Dan Allison, see her recognized before her peers, visit her home and accompany her to a Girl Scouts meeting. The crown was almost out of place, considering that Klang is down to earth about her work and eager to give more than she receives.
At a CFI safety meeting, Klang was presented with an armful of pink roses. She spoke about how hard work and attention to safety brought her to this point. And then she proceeded to give all the women in the audience a rose from her bouquet.
Klang gives CFI credit for taking her on as a solo driver after her former husband left the company. Other companies where they had driven team considered her his “little helper,” but CFI saw her as a safe, strong driver. They were thrilled to sign her on.
The financial stability and independence she’s enjoyed through her CFI career is a common theme when she speaks to Girl Scouts and other student groups. She wants young girls to see an example of a woman succeeding in what some still consider a man’s world.
When she spoke to 7- and 8-year-old Girl Scouts, they listened with bright eyes as she showed on a U.S. map all the places she had been.
“I want to expand their world,” she tells me. She doesn’t mention that she pays for all the crayons and coloring books she distributes to them.
Klang also likes to tell young women about the significance of their choices. “You can acquire a skill that’s always in demand,” she says.
After three decades and more than three million safe miles, she’s cutting back a little. “I’m trying to limit myself to about three weeks out at a time,” she says. That’s so she can visit schools, work with scouts and make positive trucking image appearances wherever she’s needed, as she often did when she served as a captain on America’s Road Team, an image outreach of the American Trucking Associations.
One of Klang’s next gigs will be at The Great American Trucking Show in Dallas, Texas, Aug. 24-26. She’ll receive a makeover, pose for a photoshoot next to an Overdrive Pride & Polish truck, sign autographs, meet attendees, give out trophies and continue to represent all that is good about trucking.