For many women, perhaps, diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but for Guadalupe (Lupe) Potter, 73, of Kelso, Wash., she prefers a shiny, green tractor trailer.
Potter, who is a woman owner-operator for Bennett Motor Express, has been driving with Bennett for 26 years. She started out as a rider as part of a team with her husband, Larry. But about 15 years ago, Potter traded her rider status for her own license and is now a woman owner-operator carrying loads across the U.S.
Potter said when stopping at a truck stop, she hardly ever sees other women truck drivers unless they are part of a team, but she said things are changing in that respect.
“Truck stops are different now,” she said. “They have facilities for women, where before, they didn’t have showers for women only. Now it’s different. It’s better. They are recognizing the women.”
Since those early days, Potter has worn down some tread on the tires of her 2007 Volvo truck having become a member of the President’s Million Mile Club, and actually driven close to two million miles. Potter said she has carried loads such as trusses and non-secure government freight. In fact, during a recent stop at Bennett’s corporate headquarters, she said she just drove from Washington to make a government delivery, a striker, hauled to Anniston, Ala. And even though Potter is of small stature, she’s not afraid to “sling some tarps” if that’s what it takes to get her drop deck trailer loaded and the freight to its destination.
After driving with the company for many years, she said she really likes it at Bennett because of the people.
“Everyone has been friendly and family-like,” Potter said. “It’s just perfect.”
She said she works with dispatch on some loads, but she also likes the technology that Bennett offers, in that she doesn’t have to wait for a call from dispatch to get a load going since she can go online to Bennett’s site and find the loads that she is interested in hauling.
“It’s nice to see what’s available,” she said. “And sometimes the dispatcher is busy and doesn’t catch something. If you’re looking, you might find it before they do.”
As far as being a driver, Potter is very happy with her career choice because of the freedom it gives her. The mother of four, grandmother of seven, and great grandmother of five, said as she drives across the country she is able to stop along the way to visit with friends and family, and she said the view from her window isn’t bad either.