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Jills of all trades: the women behind Mack Trucks’ RoadLife series

Killer.  Photo courtesy of Mack Trucks

In an industry dominated by men, women have always been a key to its future. After all, women are credited with inventing the turn signal, the brake light, and windshield wipers—just to name a few. Yet, innovations aside, Women in Trucking estimates that women only made up about 6% of the driver population in 2017, despite the driver shortage that continues to impact the industry.

Mack Trucks’ new endeavor into the world of content marketing has led to an 8-episode docuseries called RoadLife—premiering this year on Amazon Prime. The series, which runs from June through October 2018, highlights these “modern icons of tough,” most recently shining the spotlight on two women working to change the face of the industry in an episode appropriately titled “Breaking the Mold.”

FreightWaves had the chance to speak with Raquel Renda, Vice President of Renda Environmental, and Killer, a driver for Spiff Services, two of the women featured in the latest RoadLife episode.

Although neither of them set out to work in transportation, both Killer and Renda have found a home in the industry in spite of its obstacles. “In this male dominated industry, there have been challenges trying to gain respect from coworkers and other business people,” Renda stated. “When I started 20 years ago, a 35 year old woman in the industry, talking with grown male coworkers, I was viewed as a little kid trying to come in and work with the guys. Over time, that respect grows. I just have to work a little bit harder, with precision and correct facts. Once I gained that respect, we’re on the same playing field.”

Killer, who is currently on the road with the Mack Anthem Live tour, echoed Renda’s sentiments. “The most challenging thing for me is being completely disregarded on the basis of gender. I’ll be 44 next month and a lot of people still think I’m 12—they don’t realize I have more than 20 years of experience. I’m really a Jill of all trades,” Killer said. Over the course of those decades in the industry, however, Killer has learned that showing is far more powerful than telling: “Instead of challenging them verbally, I just show them what I’m capable of.”

In reference to the episode’s title, Killer explained that she didn’t get into the industry because she knew she’d be breaking the mold: “I was just doing my job—and I do it really well,” she grinned. “To me, gender shouldn’t matter. It’s all about the integrity of the work being done, the integrity of the person, earning the respect of your coworkers and peers,” said Renda.

FreightWaves also spoke with John Walsh, Mack Trucks’ Vice President of Marketing, and Chris Heffner, Manager of Public Relations to learn more about RoadLife. “It’s an exciting project,” Walsh said, and, speaking anecdotally about the series, they’ve “had nothing but positive comments so far.” Walsh’s team conceived, wrote, directed, shot, and produced the series in-house, aiming to lift the reputation not only of the Mack brand, but the reputation of trucking in general.

For Mack, it was the perfect time to delve into content marketing. “We sincerely felt that these were stories that needed to be told,” said Walsh. “There was an opportunity in our industry to really shine a spotlight on everyday heroes, for their families, the companies they work for, and society itself,” Walsh noted. “We do particularly tip our hat to truck drivers. They really are the backbones of the economy. From a larger perspective, there isn’t a general understanding of what truck drivers do day to day,” he continued.

Looking ahead, both Killer and Renda hope to see more women in the field. “I don’t see why women can’t use the equipment just as well—it’s a learned skill,” Renda concluded. As Killer said, “we’re certainly a force to be reckoned with. Let’s just do our jobs.”   

To learn more about RoadLife and to watch “Breaking the Mold,” click here.

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Maria Baker, Staff Writer

Maria is a staff writer who has covered everything from the environment to sign-on bonuses and women in the industry. She is a recent graduate of Sewanee: The University of the South, where she majored in English literature and minored in environmental studies. Maria loves writing about freight almost as much as she loves Emily Dickinson and the self-imposed challenge of finding the best iced mocha in Chattanooga.