Ingrid Brown, a 40-year trucking veteran, says she was just “venting on social media” in mid-April about the struggles truck drivers were experiencing to find personal protective equipment, including face masks and hand sanitizer, at truck stops and other places out on the road, when she quickly discovered industry executives were paying attention and wanted to help.
The three companies are partnering to purchase and deliver more than $75,000 in PPE to truck drivers who are working around the clock to deliver essential goods, including medical supplies and food.
“While some people said they were sympathetic to our struggle to find wipes and face masks, it was just talk, but then others started messaging me asking how they could help and they followed through all the way,” Brown of Zionville, North Carolina, told FreightWaves.
Since she was diagnosed with melanoma in 2017, Brown said she worries constantly about finding PPE and what this highly contagious virus could do to her already weakened immune system. She’s had eight surgeries to remove cancerous spots from her throat, side, face and leg in the past three years and also has battled pneumonia and pleurisy four times during that time.
Brown, who drives for Fleenor Brothers of Carthage, Missouri, said she started a dialogue with Carly Reeves, who heads the marketing team of TriumphPay, and Matt Milewski, marketing director of Navistar’s connected vehicle division, to come up with a strategy to help truckers.
“So when the pandemic began, we knew we wanted to do something, but we wanted to make sure we were doing it in the right way,” Reeves told FreightWaves. “Ingrid and I started talking and texting and she was able to pull in the team over at Navistar about how we could pull this off quickly and safely.”
Reeves said she ran the idea of supporting truckers like Ingrid Brown with PPE by her boss, Jordan Graft, president of TriumphPay, who quickly agreed to help.
“Truck drivers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic regularly coming into contact with people as they deliver critical supplies across the country,” Graft said. “We were compelled to take action after reading about Ingrid’s troubles sourcing PPE and purchased $25,000 worth of supplies. Thanks to International Truck, we are not only able to get these goods into the hands of drivers who need it most but are also able to add to the total amount of PPE supplied.”
The critical PPE supplies, including 6,500 masks and 6,000 eight-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, will be distributed through select International Truck dealerships in the U.S. and Canada, according to a joint press release on May 8.
“Masks and disinfectants are still sparse at stores, making it difficult for drivers to protect themselves,” said Navistar Truck President Michael Cancelliere. “On the heels of our joint initiative with our dealer network to supply more than 10,000 meals for truckers, we’re fortunate to partner with Triumph Business Capital and TriumphPay to make it easier for drivers to obtain necessary PPE in a location that’s safe for them, their vehicle and load. This is just another way we are able to show our customers and the industry that International Cares and we’re with you for the long haul.”