Entrepreneurship is a viable means of economic self-sufficiency, and many women are choosing an enterprise connected to transportation to be part of their career aspirations.
The role of transportation as a career option for women has grown significantly over the years.
In 2000, women made up 4.7 percent of the trucking payroll. Despite this gender-bending trend, the road has gradually accepted women as drivers. In fact, women have more opportunities than ever before to work in positions besides driving like sales, marketing, dispatch, recruiting, and management. They also have the option of owning their own truck or fleet.
Lorin Sutton is one of those founders who owns her own trucking business West End Trucking based in Gallatin, Tennesse. A young mother of 2 girls who currently has a fleet of 10 trucks, and has 20 more coming as they slowly roll off the line. Women On Topp sat down with Lorin to talk about how she became a Trucking company owner.
In your own words, what do you do?
My name is Lorin Sutton and I am the co-owner of West End Trucking. We are based out of Gallatin, Tennessee: twenty miles north of Nashville. We currently run 14 tri and quad-axle dump trucks ranging from Kentucky to the Middle and Southern Tennessee region. On a daily basis, I am in constant communication with my transportation manager to make sure operations are running smoothly, and our drivers are hitting the ground running. Our trucks typically run 24 hours a day: which means it takes a lot to keep the cogs moving.
Who are your clients and what are they looking for?
If you have been around Nashville within the past 5 years, you are well aware that it’s communities are booming. Currently, it is estimated that 82 people move into the area every single day. This means that aggregates
are needed in many faucets. Whether it’s asphalt for a new road to ease the congestion of the influx of people, gravel or topsoil for a new construction home- we have clients in all sectors.
How long did it take you to get where you are now?
In 2018 a single axle dump truck was purchased for our sister company, West End Construction. We had a difficult time finding subcontractors to haul dirt for us to our new construction homes and decided to invest in a truck of our own. After running the tires off of it, we decided it was time to jump full force into transportation. March of 2021 the initial purchases were made of two 2016 Kenworth tri-axle trucks. From this point forward- we were in it to win it: with an average of purchasing three brand new Mack or Volvo trucks a month.
How important is a collaboration with other individuals and organizations?
The power of being likable is the biggest marketing strength you can have in this industry. It’s who you know, and who likes you. There is no shortage of dump trucks- but to find a company with integrity and genuine concern for customer satisfaction isn’t always easy. We have teamed up with different organizations for contractual and short term work. Being able to have a positive rapport with these contractors makes our company flourish.
How are you changing the world?
Every morning when I wake up, I know that I have 16 employees that count on me in various ways ranging from having work for them that day, making sure the trucks are in full working order, and all gears are in motion.
This is a simple task. It’s mechanical. The important task set before me is loving the person behind the wheel. Seeing them for who they are, and the gift they bring to the company. I want each of these souls to shine to their fullest potential. I choose to pray for each of these men and women daily, and encourage them every chance I get. Loving on my staff makes them do their best. The love is then spread to the clients on the load runs. They are happy and feel important. In todays society everyone is searching to feel heard and loved. We are constantly battered with negativity- West End Trucking is my personal mission field and force field of God’s love and peace within a world that sometimes feels like a battlefield.
What challenges do you face in your work?
Being a female in the transportation industry is a challenge of its own. It’s described as a “man’s world” but I have set out to change that. It needs the poise, grace, and grit that only a woman can extend at certain times. It takes time to be able to build true blue relationships with men who have been groomed that the ladies need to step back and watch: when in reality I want to be in the middle of it and be their help, or even guide when needed.
To what do you attribute your success?
Aspiration. It’s easy to have a vague goal such as oh, I am going to be rich. No, make the goal specific. I am going to have 30 truck by June 2022. By having clarity on your goals it makes attaining them more possible. Having specific motivating factors makes these goals gives a silver lining when times get tough. Additionally, it gives me a blueprint. With my idea of success defined, I can make my goals more manageable.
What is a skill you think all women should learn and why?
Two words. Emotional Intelligence- and At the cornerstone of this is self-awareness. To be emotionally Intelligence is to be able to recognize, understand and manage your own emotions and to be in tune with others’ emotions and to act with compassion. Emotional intelligence is especially vital when you’re under stress, leading your team or generally having responsibility for others. To become a responsible person in society you need to self-manage and demonstrate your social skills. This means keeping your cool when unexpected setbacks occur, offering support when someone is in crisis, reading social cues, and using your best judgment when it comes to emotions. Being able to do this is your key to being a successful business owner. Know what your employees need. Meet them where THEY are, not where you want them to be. Compassion, always compassion.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Surround yourself with people more intelligent than you. Sounds like a hard pill to swallow, but being with mentors will only push you further in life. They can pass on advice, words of wisdom- and the dos and donts of entrepreneurship. People who are smarter than you make you up your game. Smart people make you smarter. They make you better. They spark interest and introduce you to new concepts, ideas, culture, people, and restaurants. They know where the good stuff is, like networking events, and career opportunities. And smart people, if they are truly smart, know the value of kindness and generosity and are likely to throw some of it your way, which you should do in return, because you are also smart and know that this sort of behavior makes the world a better place.
Tell us about your proudest achievement?
My proudest achievement is not in the form of an award or recognition- but it’s that I am raising my daughters to see what hard work is and what it takes to achieve it. Ages 11, 6, and 2: they know to treat everyone with a high level of respect and gratitude. Everyday they see the trucks coming in from a long day of work- they know these men and women make sacrifices so we all can succeed.