To say that Jill Maschmeier has flair and enthusiasm is an understatement. There aren’t many people who incorporate a fog machine or a crystal ball into a presentation about safety issues, but that is just one way that Maschmeier stands out amongst her peers.
“Jill always wants to do things a little bit differently, but not in a bad way,” shared Truckload Carriers Association Vice President of Government Affairs David Heller, referring to Maschmeier’s involvement in annual TCA safety meetings and other speaking events where she is given a platform to further discuss safety issues.
“She likes to deliver a message in a way that is not necessarily the norm. When she calls, I always say, ‘How are you going to scare me today?’” he said with a laugh.
Maschmeier, who is the director of safety and compliance for National Carriers Inc. (NCI), said she enjoys adding an interesting touch to a presentation about a topic that might not be considered “fun.” A little bit of laughter isn’t all Maschmeier brings to the table in the area of safety and compliance: She also brings a wealth of knowledge and a proven track record of excellence in the field.
Now she can add 2020 TCA Safety Professional of the Year — Clare C. Casey Award recipient to her list of accomplishments. The award is named for Clare Casey, a devoted safety professional who actively served TCA from 1979 to 1989 and was instrumental in forming the first annual Safety and Security Division Meeting.
“This is an award that is bestowed to a safety professional within TCA that certainly demonstrates a career achievement in safety. It is given to those that have demonstrated an impact,” added Heller.
Maschmeier certainly fits the bill. Surprisingly, though, she had no experience in safety before accepting a job with NCI in 2000. In fact, she jokingly admits that before joining NCI, she was anything BUT familiar with “compliance.”
“I couldn’t even spell compliance,” she shared with a laugh. “Maybe it should be embarrassing to me, but I think it’s hilarious, actually.”
When Maschmeier joined the team at NCI, the company had an “unsatisfactory” safety rating from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A year later, with Maschmeier leading the department, NCI earned a “satisfactory” rating on its next inspection — as well as a letter of recommendation from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
Maschmeier said she continues to view that improvement as a badge of honor. But how did she do it? First, she quickly credits the entire company for its desire to grow and be better in the area of safety. She and her team worked long hours, nearly seven days a week, every week for nearly a year to prepare for the inspection. Because Maschmeier didn’t have a background in safety, she knew she had a lot to learn, so she asked a lot of questions.
“Achieving that satisfactory rating was one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever experienced,” said Maschmeier. “I was in constant contact with [FMCSA] during that time. That’s what I wish people could learn from this experience. If you’re upfront, honest, and trying to correct errors, they will help you.”
Heller said that a desire to learn is another of Maschmeier’s greatest qualities — and a quality that remains unchanged now that she has become a veteran safety professional. She is never afraid to ask questions, even many years after entering the field of safety and compliance: “That’s just part of her M.O.,” he explained.
Throughout her nearly 20 years with NCI, Maschmeier has helped the company maintain an exceptional safety and compliance record and promoted a culture that places safety and compliance as a priority, but she hasn’t done it alone. She noted that NCI provides a great family-oriented environment that leads to an overall culture of safety and care.
“We really, really do care about our drivers. We’re not so big that we don’t know most of our drivers by name,” she shared. “If they hurt, we hurt.”
Maschmeier believes that knowing the rules and a constant desire to learn is what helps a trucking business stay on top of safety and compliance. As she has grown in the industry, she has gained several certifications that help her navigate the changing world of safety, including becoming certified through North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). She is also a certified purchasing manager and licensed insurance adjuster.
She works to spread a new outlook on safety through various organizations. She has served as a TCA Safety Council officer since 2019 and served on the Southwest Kansas Safety Council, and she was recognized as Kansas Motor Carrier Association’s 2016 Safety Professional of the Year. She has also partnered with FMCSA to educate others about electronic logging devices (ELDs).
Maschmeier brings that same flair and enthusiasm to every podium she stands behind, including the FMCSA’s Commercial Vehicle Safety Summit, the Women In Trucking Conference, the Transportation Mega Conference, and, of course, TCA.
“I can’t say enough positive words about her,” stated Heller. “She likes to set the tone a bit differently, and that is great. She wants to get people’s attention, and she wants to hold it and talk about issues that matter.”