PLOVER, Wis. — The Women In Trucking Association (WIT) has named Mona Chisum as the association’s December member of the month. Chisum is the driver supervisor for TP Trucking, based in Central Point, Oregon.
Chisum’s trucking story begins in 1988, when she drove her first truck. Teri and Amzel Butler owned a small logging company that Chisum’s husband at the time worked for as a log hauler. They lived on the job and Chisum’s husband watered the road at night using a 1956 Peterbilt water truck so it wouldn’t be as dusty the next day. One evening, Chisum tried driving the rig herself.
“The minute I got my hands on the wheel, it felt like I was home,” said Chisum.
There weren’t many female drivers, especially log truck drivers, at that time. Amzel Butler not only partnered with her husband in the company, but she was also a log truck driver.
“Amzel is the reason I ventured into the transportation industry. My deep admiration for her was the catalyst that got me where I am today, the driver supervisor for TP Trucking,” Chisum said.
Chisum thought driving a water truck off-highway in the evening hours was a far cry from being a truck driver. In 1990, she had two small children and needed a job that would help support her family, so she decided to take the test to obtain her commercial driver’s license. She spent a few weeks learning how to drive a logging truck. The pre-trip gave her some trouble at first, she said, but ultimately, she earned her CDL.
FV Martin Trucking in White City, Oregon, hired Chisum. She said working for FV Martin was like having 29 big brothers to learn from every day. While employed with FV Martin, she drove log trucks, flat beds, dump trucks and water trucks. She even experienced having one of their trucks as a tender on some forest fires.
In 2002, Chisum became the safety director at FV Martin. She says she enjoyed this role because she wanted to help the drivers be the best they could be. During that time, she learned a lot about DOT and OSHA regulations, and even taught some highway drivers to be log truck drivers. In 2004, after 14 years, she left FV Martin to work as the safety director for a growing refrigerated freight company, Cross Creek Trucking in Central Point.
“While there [at Cross Creek], I learned even more, but this time about life over the road. During that 11-year span I traveled cross-country and learned to navigate big cities, manage my time to the best advantage, learned to live in a sleeper for several weeks at a time and saw some of the most beautiful sights in North America,” she said.
In 2015, Chisum joined TP Trucking for what she believes is a long-term career move. She started out as a flat-bed driver and is now the driver supervisor. Her job duties include helping with electronic logging and dispatch devices, onboarding of new employees and equipment allocation, to name a few.
For anyone, particularly women, who are thinking about venturing into the trucking world, Chisum advises to remove the word “can’t” from their vocabulary.
“When I started in this industry, there weren’t many women. It’s so nice to see more and more out on the roads. Just because you haven’t tried it doesn’t mean you can’t do it,” she said.
Chisum suggests that prospective driver take the time and work on strengthening their weaknesses — if backing is a problem, take the time in the middle of the day when no one is around to practice. Anyone who is nervous about navigating the urban areas should look at a map and use Google and a GPS so they’ll feel comfortable about where they’re going.