Hakuna matata: U.S. Army veteran, owner-operator has ‘no worries’ attitude, dedicates her truck to her sister

Hakuna matata: U.S. Army veteran, owner-operator has ‘no worries’ attitude, dedicates her truck to her sister
Like many truck drivers, Carla Brown spent time in different fields before joining the trucking industry. After retiring from the U.S. Army, she also worked as a graphic designer. She designed the paint job on her truck as a memorial to her sister, who loved lady bugs. (Courtesy: Carla Brown)

When a graphic artist decides to buy her own tractor, you’d expect the paint job to be interesting. That’s certainly true of Carla Brown’s lime green 2019 Freightliner Cascadia. She designed the graphics herself including the ladybug motif down the center of the hood.

“My truck is dedicated to my sister; she loved lady bugs,” Brown told The Trucker. “She was a truck driver, too.”

Tragically, Brown’s sister, Carolyn, lost her life when she was struck by a pickup truck while spotting for another truck driver. Carolyn’s photograph is a part of the design, prominently displayed on the side of Brown’s truck.

Brown is leased to Springfield, Missouri-based Prime Inc. and is purchasing her truck through the company.

“I saw a lime green truck on the road and loved the color, so I knew that would be the color of my truck when I got one,” she explained. “I’m a graphic designer, so it was easy to come up with a design.

She took the truck to Stripes & Stuff Graphic Signs in Springfield for design production. Prominently displayed on the truck are the words “hakuna matata,” a Swahili phrase that mean, “no worries.”

“That’s me,” Brown said. “I live my life with no worries. I don’t worry about nothing.”

Like many drivers, Brown followed a different career path earlier in life. She is a U.S. Army veteran, having served eight years as an administrative specialist.

“I also cross trained with a group of MPs (military police) for two years,” she said, adding that she served in several U.S. military locations in addition to assignments in Korea and Germany. She married and had three children; then adopted a daughter, too.

“They’re all grown now, scattered all over the world. I’m really proud of all of them,” she said.

Brown also trained in graphic arts and web design, working in that field for years.

“If I wasn’t trucking, I’d live in an RV and pay my bills with graphic-design work,” she said. Her love of recreational vehicles is what, in a way, got her into trucking. A friend who knew of her love for travel asked her, “Why don’t you get into trucking and get paid to see the country?”

Brown got her commercial driver’s license but said she knew right away that she wanted to own her own business. Eventually, she teamed up with another driver so that each could save most of their earnings to start businesses.

“We earned enough for the down payment on the truck, plus what was needed for upgrades and graphics,” she said.

Once she had accumulated the startup money, Brown bought a truck and went back to solo driving. She pulls a refrigerated trailer for Prime, hauling groceries, produce or whatever is available.

“I haul all of the above, and dry goods, too,” she said. “Whatever is moving and paying.”

Brown’s faith has become more important to her over the years, even though she is often away from her church.

“I guess I fell away during my Army years,” she said. “About 15 years ago, I lost an uncle. At his funeral service, I met the pastor of the church he was going to and fell in love. I’ve been at New Horizons Baptist Church ever since.”

Brown said she doesn’t have much time for hobbies and that she puts most of her effort back into her business.

“I’ve never thought of trucking as a job. It’s an adventure to me,” she said. She enjoys the variety of destinations and waking up each day in a different state. “I say it’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get tomorrow.”

When asked what advice she would give other drivers who are considering buying a truck, she said, “You can achieve financial independence through trucking if you manage your money. There is an endgame. Get out here, make your money and work toward your goals.”

In a profession that has its share of difficulties, Brown’s enthusiasm shines as brightly as her lime-green Freightliner. “Hakuna matata” is more than a decoration on Brown’s truck. It’s her attitude of success.

Cliff Abbott is an experienced commercial vehicle driver and owner-operator who still holds a CDL in his home state of Alabama. In nearly 40 years in trucking, he’s been an instructor and trainer and has managed safety and recruiting operations for several carriers. Having never lost his love of the road, Cliff has written a book and hundreds of songs and has been writing for The Trucker for more than a decade.
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Hakuna matata: U.S. Army veteran, owner-operator has ‘no worries’ attitude, dedicates her truck to her sister