Women In Trucking Association (WIT) announced it has named Mackenzie Melton as its December Member of the Month.
Compared to many truck drivers, Melton is relatively new in the transportation industry. She began her professional driving career with Garner Trucking in her hometown of Findlay, OH, nearly three years ago.
When Melton was only 11 years old, she was involved in a fatal car accident that took the lives of both of her step-brothers. Snow and icy conditions were a factor of that event. The memory of the accident left her with a fear of riding in vehicles for several years after. Even as a professional driver, it adds another layer of focus when weather conditions become severe.
Being a single mother, Melton said she worked several dead-end jobs as she struggled to provide for herself and her young child. As she labored in a factory to barely made ends meet, Melton described her situation as “dirt poor” and nowhere to go. That was until a truck driver unknowingly inspired her.
The driver made a daily delivery to the facility where Melton worked, and she said she noticed his professionalism, his pleasant demeanor, his confidence and pride in what he did for a living. Mackenzie had never spoken to that driver, but began to admire the job he did.
“Why can’t I be a truck driver and happily come and go instead of standing at my press every day,” she asked herself.
Family members were split over her career decision. But her husband was supportive from the very beginning, she noted.
Since becoming a driver for Garner Trucking, Melton said, “I feel no other career would be as fulfilling. Every day I take pride in my job. Everywhere I go my goal is to change the way people perceive truck drivers in general. Admittedly, there are some truck drivers who perpetuate the general opinion of the occupation as grumpy, angry and complaining people. But I have met some truly nice people out there. Truck drivers are some of the most reliable, friendly, and helpful people I come across.”
However, she did explain that being a woman driver does create a few challenges. When someone sees her drive into their lot for the first time, occasionally they will stand and watch to see if she can do her job. Once she backs in and proves she can handle the truck and trailer, she gains their respect.
Because of Melton’s clean safety record, on-time deliveries and other criteria that calculate into the formula for company driver awards earned her accolades from the company.
“In 2016, I was selected as Garner Driver of the Quarter,” Melton said. “And that was a big surprise since I was not a long-time employee!”
“Stories like Mackenzie’s fill my heart with joy!” said Sherri Garner Brumbaugh, owner of Garner Trucking,. “Mackenzie is special and I am fortunate she has found a career at Garner. I think, sadly, there are more women like Mackenzie out there who don’t or can’t realize their financial and career potential. How do we find them? How do we get them behind the wheel of an 18-wheeler? I’m so thankful Mackenzie takes pride in her career and talks to others about facing their fears head on!”
Melton is now a recruiting specialist for Garner.