Owner-operator Leslie Bitterman claws back from near-death to success

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Updated Feb 19, 2024

With this week’s installment of the Overdrive Radio podcast series, hear the story of Overdrive's first Trucker of the Month for 2024. That’d be owner-operator Leslie Bitterman, who’s remade the independent Bitterman Trucking in her own image since the passing of her business partner and husband, Dale Bitterman, in 2010.

Voices you’ll hear telling just a small part of Leslie Bitterman’s story are her own, but also that of Overdrive News Editor Matt Cole. Cole detailed the Bitterman history in more depth in the recent profile of the owner-operator here. Bitterman was nominated to contend for the 2024 Trucker of the Year award by her daughter, Ashley, who’s long been inspired by the toughness and strong old-school, no-frills handle on business that the owner puts into action.

With the nomination, Ashley noted some of her own involvement in the business today, likewise her diesel mechanic brother, Dale Jr., who takes charge of maintenance. Yet it’s Leslie that is the "Spirit of Bitterman Trucking,” as Ashley put it. “Her grit and determination to take care of business makes her a success."

Ashley's growing involvement in the business has given her even more of a window on those qualities. "She is a driving miracle," Ashley said. "My mom is my hero.”

2024 Overdrive trucker of the year logoWe want you to get involved in this year’s Trucker of the Year award program, too. Enter your own owner-operator business, or that of another exceptional owner (up to three trucks), via the brief entry form at this link.

Howes logoOverdrive Radio's sponsor is Howes, longtime provider of fuel treatments like its Howes Diesel Treat anti-gel and Lifeline rescue treatment to get you through the coldest temps, likewise its all-weather Diesel Defender, among other products.Leslie Bitterman's done it all through the 30-year existence of Bitterman Trucking (books and dispatch, customer relations and so much more), but she hasn't always been a truck operator. She's got off-and-on large-vehicle driving experience in a school bus for special-needs children, a history unique among Trucker of the Year contenders of the last year or so. She's carried lessons learned there -- from the driving task to the hyper-vigilance required -- into the task of owning and operating trucks.

Pulling for direct customers during Washington State fruit harvests out of her native Wenatchee in the central part of the state, and the occasional broker, Bitterman’s overcome quite a lot in recent years, including a near-death experience with COVID-19 in early 2022.

The money quote from her, about what was a year-and-more process of recovery from the illness Cole referenced in his story about Bitterman: "I had to do what I knew how to do," she said, simply put. "Get in that truck." 

Today, she's more than a year back in the saddle, and keeps on trucking. It's another aspect of her story that led her daughter to nominate her, and all of us here at Overdrive to recognize Leslie Bitterman as January Trucker of the Month.

Grit? yes. Determination? Indeed, as you’ll hear:

Nominate yourself or another owner (up to three trucks) for Overdrive's 2024 Trucker of the Year award via this link. 

[Related: Roadside inspections, safety scores should be 'preventive,' not punitive]

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