When it comes to truck driving, “Just watch me,” is a familiar phrase to Denise Endicott, this month’s featured Women in the Driver’s Seat member. Before a career in trucking, Denise was a Legal Assistant working in Largo, FL. Denise realized that she had a passion for trucking and wanted to drive an 18-wheeler after spending over three years out on the road with a former boyfriend that was a truck driver in Bonifay, FL. During this time, she rode with him and learned everything from securing loads, handling paperwork, staying compliant with truck inspections, and getting dirty with the upkeep of the truck; during that time, Endicott states that she was “bitten by the trucking bug”, and she definitely knew that she wanted to make a career of truck driving. However, Denise’s former boyfriend did not take her seriously, and she remembers there were several times when “He told me I couldn’t do it, it was no place for a girl.” On April 4, 2014, she received her CDL and began her career in the transportation and trucking industry. She quit her job and used money from her 401k and went to truck driving school with her CDL in hand. Denise was the only female in the class and the only one with a CDL already!
Starting out, Denise recognized her inexperience with driving in snow, ice and over mountains. She decided team driving would be the safest way to begin her trucking career. So, she found a mentor and running team partner in Billy Cole, a 30-year trucking veteran, through a website specifically for drivers interested in team driving. Denise states that Billy was the perfect coach, “He was patient and let me run with my trucking passion. He never told me I couldn’t do anything I wanted to.” With Billy by her side, she learned to overcome obstacles ranging from driving in ice and snow, to working with customers or other truckers that still did not take her seriously; Endicott recalls
“I have driven up to a customer without even getting out of the truck and when they see me in the driver’s seat and Billy in the passenger seat they walk to the passenger side to talk to Billy! Billy redirects them back to me. Billy’s been asked if I was his helper. I finally bought a t-shirt with the words TRUCK DRIVER on the front.”
With that confidence and passion, the pair have hauled many exciting loads such as fine art for museums, explosives, nuclear, van, jet engines, climate control, flatbed, step deck and oversized. In 2015, she and Billy got to pick up Star Wars movie props from George Lucas’ private ranch in California and took them to a museum in Seattle, Washington and to Times Square in New York. After 14 months of driving together, Billy popped the question on Valentine’s Day 2016. When you are traveling all over the United States, time flies by! Earlier this year, before the Covid-19 pandemic, Denise and Billy decided to finally set the date to get married on August 11th. In just a few days, Denise and Billy will be getting married in Montana. She has been busy not only driving full-time but planning a wedding at the same time!
Since September 2016, Denise and Billy have been with Bennett Motor Express as an owner-operator team in the General Freight division. For the past two years, Denise and Billy run dedicated for Lockheed Martin from the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Georgia. In fact, Denise successfully received her security clearance from the Department of Defense. The Covid-19 pandemic did not slow the team down and they have stayed busy driving through it all. She has really enjoyed seeing the appreciation from the public for drivers during this time.
Today, after being a truck driver for six years, Denise still finds her career change to be exciting, adventurous, challenging and rewarding. She loves sharing photos of the many places where she has traveled while out on the road and has been to 48 states. There are often times, she gets asked, “Are you sure you’re not on vacation?” Confucius once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Denise definitely lives by this quote and loves being able to say about being a truck driver, “Being a truck driver is hard work, but I love it!” Denise also enjoys talking to anyone about women in trucking, and she has great advice for other women that are thinking about getting into the industry.
She emphasizes “…don’t let anyone tell you can’t, follow your passion, never think you are too old to start, do your research and follow your instincts as they will keep you safe.”
Denise is certainly a unique member of our Bennett family, and we look forward to watching her progress.
Visit here to learn more about Bennett’s Women in the Driver’s Seat Program.