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Trucking a family business for Kansas couples

Staff writer

Trucking is often regarded as a male-dominated industry, but for independent businesses like Marion’s Triple R Hauling it’s often a couple’s affair, co-owner Kim Ross said.

“They have a lot of husband and wife teams in the state that are personally owned and not connected to some of the big companies,” she said.

Ross handles bookkeeping for the business, which she owns with her husband.

According to a press release from Senator Jerry Moran’s office (R-Kansas), women make up 24% of the trucking work force. To integrate more women into the industry, Moran and Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) introduced the Promoting Women in Trucking Workforce Act.

While the number of women involved in trucking is higher in Kansas, many of them run the office, Ross said.

“There are very few women driving in the trucking industry,” she said. “Being in that truck every day would be like a farm wife who goes out and rides the tractor every day. It’s hard on your body, even if you have an air-ride truck; you’re up and down off the truck and trailer 50,000 times a day.”

If passed, the trucking bill will identify entry barriers for women in the field, and help employers coordinate formal education and training programs.

“I don’t see any regulations changing just because there’s a woman in the truck,” Ross said.

Moran’s trucking bill sounds like a good topic, but it is likely one more thing for them to study, Ross said.

“I think there are barriers across the board,” she said. “What they require a trucking company to be able to do, for a small company like ours it costs us so much to stay in compliance. I don’t think being a female is going to change that.”

Even though Ross runs the office, riding with her husband in the truck more than a couple days is too much, she said.

“You’re talking about being confined in an area about the size of a bathroom 24/7, for everything,” she said. “You can’t sneeze without sneezing on the other person in that truck. It’s rare to be able to tolerate another person in that confined space for a long period of time.”

Employees Cathy and Larry have been working for Triple R for two years but don’t seem to have that issue, Ross said.

“A normal husband or wife has an area to get away from the spouse when there’s a disagreement,” she said. “In a semi there’s no place to get away, so they have to be very compatible and tolerant of one another.”

Employees Cathy and Larry spend all their time in the truck except to use the bathroom, even when making meals, Ross said.

“The only way out is to sit in a truck stop like you would go into a convenience store,” she said. “Truckers tolerate a lot of stuff normal people would not, and do it to make sure their families are fed and clothed.”

While there are struggles with the amount of space, it’s an advantage to have a couple as employees because the pair can make it across the U.S. in three days, Ross said.

“They could load something in Kansas City and be in Washington State in 48 hours,” she said.

It won’t make a difference for Triple R because gender doesn’t factor into compliance, Ross said.

“They don’t care when I go to Topeka to pay taxes on my two trucks and trailers, whether I have a woman or a man in that truck,” she said. “The cost is the same. They don’t differentiate if I have a husband and wife team, they don’t care. They care how many trucks I have on the road, how many trailers, and how many drivers.”

Last modified Nov. 21, 2019

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