Member of the Month

July 2016 • Jodi Edwards

Jodi EdwardsEarly in the morning at a J.B. Hunt Intermodal facility in Bethlehem, Pa., a group of truck drivers congregate around a couple tables to take care of work before heading out in their trucks. They’re a loud group; they laugh and they joke like a group of old friends.

One driver, Jodi Edwards, brings in Dunkin’ Donuts for the team and doesn’t hesitate to join in the fun with the guys. Jodi has a contagious personality. She’s happy, blunt and can take a joke just as well as she can give them. She partially credits her outgoing nature to her success in the industry.

“I don’t think being shy would be real conducive to what I do, and I know that other women who I have met in the trucking industry are also outgoing and not real nervous around people,” Jodi said. “You just can’t be.”

Jodi would know what it takes to make it in trucking — she’s a Million Miler who has been with J.B. Hunt for nearly two decades, and she’s regarded by her managers as a driver “who represents the best of the best here at J.B. Hunt.”

For years, Jodi has started her shift early in the morning. She leaves the facility around 4 a.m. and is off work by early afternoon.

“I have a Monday through Friday and have my weekends off,” she said. “My son’s 22 now, but he was in every sport they offer and boy scouts – so it was nice because I’d be done by 3 or 4 in the afternoon and still be able to go to the baseball game or basketball game and take him to scouts.”

For a short time after Jodi completed driving school in the early ‘90s, she worked as a Truckload driver at J.B. Hunt. Though, because she had a family, she left the industry after a year and a half. Spending days on the road didn’t fit her lifestyle. She worked for a medical supply company for a few years and then jumped back in the truck when J.B. Hunt brought Intermodal to Bethlehem.

“I came back because I really just loved the company,” Jodi said. “I’ve never been one for changing jobs, even as a teenager. J.B. Hunt offered so much and now it’s even more — there’s so much local work, there are so many different aspects and driving jobs with this company that you wouldn’t need to go anywhere else. If I got bored with what I did in Intermodal, there are two large dedicated accounts here in my area and I could give that a try. It’s nice.”

Indeed, with Intermodal and Dedicated jobs available all around the country, J.B. Hunt has a job to fit nearly every lifestyle, and today more than 50% of their drivers get home every day, and more than 40% get home weekly.

“You can be home and have a normal life,” Jodi said.

“That’s what is nice about my early shift and that’s why I’ve kept it. I like getting that early start.”

The common conception that truck drivers are gone for weeks at a time is a deterrent to a lot of women with families, Jodi said.

“Even locally, they hire so many now,” she said. “Back in the day, you had to put in your over the road time first – you don’t have to necessarily do that now.”

As for the women who do find their way into the trucking industry, Jodi explains how truck driving is really empowering.

“Trucking empowers me to live my own life, teaching me that I didn’t need another individual in order to survive. It provided with me with a home, good career and sustainable livelihood. “

No matter who the driver is, though, whether male or female, Jodi said one thing is important: communication.

As a driver, “you need to be able to communicate comfortably with everyone who’s out there — from the customer to your coworkers or even the police — anything that may come up during your day,” Jodi said.

Although Jodi has been with J.B. Hunt for nearly 20 years, she said she still has a lot of road ahead of her and she hopes to serve as a role model for those who are looking to join the industry, whether they are female, male, young, old or anywhere in between. She’s confident that J.B. Hunt can offer a solid career path for nearly anyone, as long as they are willing to put in the effort.

“If you can make a career out of it, if you don’t job hop, and you find a place you’re comfortable, that you can call home and build that 401k — all the things that you see executives doing — you can do that as a truck driver as long as you’re willing to take things in stride and go with the flow,” she said.

“If you stay with the company long enough you can build the things that you need so you can retire. I’ll still be here ‘til I get my two million miles.”

Shared with permission from J.B. Hunt

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