Featuring Women on the Move with Utility Pro™ and their Safety Alliance Program. The Safety Alliance’s mission is to unite professionals and promote safe, responsible practices in the workplace. The Safety Alliance aspires to be the go-to resource for industry news and best practices, and we are committed to helping workers stay safe on the job.
Lydia, along with her husband Robby, run a family-owned trucking business out of Gore, Oklahoma
Could you tell us about yourself and how you got into the gravel and trucking industries?
I’m 30 years old, from Arkansas. My parents were school teachers, my sister is a lawyer & my brother manages a fine dining restaurant. I’m the black sheep of the family. They’re all from New Jersey while I was born & raised here. I grew up loving NASCAR, monster trucks, and planes. Anything big & fast. I rode in a truck once & got hooked on the power of being behind the wheel. I originally went to cosmetology school at age 20 but I couldn’t think about anything but trucking & ended up pursuing that career after finishing cosmetology school & falling in love with the industry. I’ve done several times of work in the industry, but construction is typically my favorite. When I met my husband, this is the work he did & he introduced me. It keeps me close to home & daytime hours, it’s fast-paced & there’s a lot to it that keeps me busy, which makes for a quick day.
What is a typical day like for you as a mom and business owner managing two businesses?
It’s different every day. There is no set schedule, it’s just hectic & moment by moment, organized chaos. I have a wonderful support system that allows me to juggle everything. I do my best to care for my children every day, given the circumstances, and work comes second.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a woman in a male-dominated industry?
This is a great question; when I first started in trucking, over 10 years ago, there were fewer women & therefore, men weren’t as understanding & gave women less of a chance. Now it’s more common to see women working in the industry, & it’s more respected, so sometimes it can actually be seen as a benefit.
“I love camping, the lake, vacations which we usually take in the truck so it doesn’t even feel like work, hanging out with my dogs, kids, family & friends whenever we can, cooking out, or sitting by a fire.”
What are common misconceptions about your work, and what is a funny experience you’ve had as a truck driver?
Since we do a variety of work compared to everyone else, we’re often stereotyped with the rest of the industry & very few people know all the work & experience behind the scenes. Most of the stories are embarrassing or inappropriate, but I have a couple I can think of to tell you. There was this time when my air compressor locked up as I was pulling into the crusher to get a load of rock; it was late July, really hot outside & I called my husband, who was just under an hour away, to bring tools & ice water because I was going to be really hot by the time he got there, he hurried up & ran up to my door to bring me this giant ice water which I didn’t need anymore….
Almost every single truck stopped & gave me a bottle or 2 of ice water, offered for me to sit in their truck to cool off & offered to help. I had 10 water bottles in my truck, my husband told me had it been him, no one would have stopped & he would’ve been dusted out. Lol.
Another time we were hauling asphalt & my truck has tall stacks on it, so I would have to back on this scale under the asphalt silo to load it up. There’s a line of trucks out there & this guy was running his mouth about us backing up on the scale because he wanted to also so the silo didn’t drip on his truck as he drove straight under it. He’s complaining they don’t want him to because it’s time-consuming & opens the door for mistakes which he replied, “if that girl can do it, I can too,” he takes his little county truck up to the front to start backing on the scale anyway where he went right off the side of the scale off a 3-4 foot drop. We all had to wait for a loader to come to lift his trailer back up to solid ground lol.
To all women who admire you, do you have any tips for juggling work and family life as a mother of small children?
Always put your family first, do not overload yourself & stress yourself out because that’s when mistakes are made & regrets come into play. Self-care is so important. Take your time with everything you do, and if it’s a passion, put in the effort to make it work, and everything will fall into place.
With over 300k followers on social media, how do you connect with your audience on social media?
I try to post relatable content when I have the time to post. Things that will encourage other women, I try to be honest about what I deal with, though it would be difficult to show everything that goes into our lifestyle.
Why do you think so many people across the United States admire you?
Well, I don’t know if I’d say that, but for those that do, I know I’ve been told that I try to keep it real and classy and that I’m a hard worker. My job does not include social media, so I only post when I can, and others respect that.
And lastly, what do you do to relax?
I love camping, the lake, vacations which we usually take in the truck so it doesn’t even feel like work, hanging out with my dogs, kids, family & friends whenever we can, cooking out, or sitting by a fire.
Connect with Lydia
Check out her interview at: https://www.utilityprowear.com/pages/the-safety-alliance-lydia-summerlin
Read this article in the Empowering Women in Industry Digital Magazine: https://empoweringwomen.mydigitalpublication.com/vol-3/page-10
By: Utility Pro