GRUENSTADT, Germany – Heike Molter has been driving long distance for 18 years and it showed when she took her road test to drive for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
She aced the test on the first try and was hired in April.
“Some of the other applicants took several attempts while she only took one. We could tell she was very skilled,” said Ronald Willis, regional supervisor for the Exchange’s Europe fleet. “We knew we had to have her on the Gruenstadt team.”
Molter is the first woman hired to drive long distance with the Exchange’s Europe fleet. In fact, her application was the first from a woman in more than five years.
Molter, a German national, is also no stranger to working for the U.S. government.
She drove for the Defense Commissary Agency for seven years. When she heard from another driver that the Exchange had an opening, she jumped at the chance to apply.
“I wanted to work with Americans,” Molter said. “I’ve only had positive experiences, and the Exchange has a dedicated fleet. That’s exciting.”
The Exchange’s Europe fleet is composed of 34 long-distance drivers who deliver to locations up to 450 miles (one way).
Molter rotates daily on all routes out of Gruenstadt, most of which take four hours and average 300 miles roundtrip. She drives to stores in Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland and Germany and might make special runs during military exercises to Romania, Macedonia and Hungary.
Ultimately, Molter hopes more women take up truck driving, especially with the shortage of drivers in Europe. According to the European Road Freight Transport 2018 report, Germany needs 45,000 drivers to meet industry needs.
“There is a lot of opportunity for women to start driving,” Molter said. “I hope someday everyone can see that women are as good — or better — than men at truck driving.”
Regardless of whether other women join her, Molter wants to stay with the Exchange for the long haul.
“I want to one day buy a house for myself,” Molter said. “I think working for the Exchange will make that dream come true.”
Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service has gone where soldiers, airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing.
The Exchange is the 61st-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.3 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years.
The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a board of directors.
To find out more about the exchange history and mission, visit http://www.shopmyexchange.com.