Sherri Leach has driven for Bennett Truck Transport (BTT) for 13 years, and not all of it continually. She started with Bennett in 2000 and then left in 2005 to try other transportation companies before coming back, convinced that Bennett is the best company for truck drivers.
“Believe me, Bennett is the best one out there,” Sherri says. “They are more honest about what we get paid. They don’t charge us outlandish fees. If it’s supposed to go to us, it goes to us.” Until winning the Woman Driver of Excellence Award, Sherri had never met anyone from Bennett except terminal agents. “When I got to come to Georgia, I was impressed with the generosity and respect, and how they handle themselves in corporate,” she says. “I was glad to see that they are really Christian-based, because I believe in God, and it’s good to work for a company that believes also.”
Bennett Truck Transport only has a small handful of women drivers, notes BTT Operations Manager January Murphy. “Sherri has withstood the test of time and made her place in the industry,” January says. “She has been described as a “mother figure” to her fellow drivers. She is willing to go anywhere and is easy to work with. Her dispatcher describes her as going above and beyond the call of duty. She has good relationships with our customers and takes great pride in the freight that she pulls.”
Sherri has been claim-free for more than three and a half years. She has no log violations and is up to date on her fuel envelope reporting. Very safety conscious, she always tries to drive a little slower. Hauling modular homes is considered one of the most difficult transportation jobs, and Sherri never forgets that.
“I can go to the same place two to three times a week and every load is different,” she says. “Even if it’s the same route, there can be different challenges. I have to stay alert, watch my mirrors constantly, watch my tires, keep looking to see if someone is coming up behind me, but that’s what makes it so much fun.”
Sherri grew up in the manufactured housing industry. Her father, Les Leach, who also drives for BTT, has driven for 56 years and taught Sherri how to drive a pilot car for him when she was only 15. Sherri started a family when she was still very young, which postponed her driving career. From the age of 17 to 22, she had three children, and did not start driving full-time until her youngest was 16, though she did occasionally take escort jobs with her father. Sherri could not wait to get out on the road. “I love driving because it’s adventurous, never boring,” she says. “To me, it’s fun. Driving is my heart.”
Today, Sherri and her father frequently travel together, doing doubles, each driving their own truck, and staying close in states that don’t require a measurable distance between drivers with heavy loads. They like teaming up so that they can be there for one another. Sherri helps him with some tasks that are harder for him now that he is a little older. “He helped me when I was younger, and now I get to pay him back for all of the help he gave me,” she says.
Sherri is proud to win a Woman Driver of Excellence Award, and glad that women are being recognized for their achievements because that hasn’t always been the case for women drivers. However, Sherri maintains that she never aims to earn an award. “When I work, my main goal is to make sure the customer is happy, get the load there safely, make sure I’m safe and the public is safe,” she says. “And that’s what’s important to me. When I drive into a place that I’ve been to before, I want the customer to be glad to see me, not say ‘Oh God, it’s her again.’ “
Sherri shared about a time that she delivered a load and overheard the customer say, “Oh God, it’s a woman.” The customer was somewhat rude to Sherri, but she maintained her professionalism and just kept being nice. “All I wanted to know is where he wanted me to put it,” Sherri says, “and when I put it where he wanted it, he was happy and shook my hand, and he said, ‘well, I guess all women aren’t the same, are they?’ I just want my customers to be happy to see me come back. Because that looks good on me and the company I drive for.”