Liz Imel is a female trucker and she loves what she does. According to her, “[Trucking] was a good opportunity to travel AND get to drive a big truck!” and she never looked back. In our previous article, we spoke on the challenges that female truck drivers face in their male-dominated industry. Despite these obstacles, highly successful lady truckers make a way for themselves and Liz is no different. Read on to learn more about Liz’s story as a trucker.
Liz grew up around trucks and heavy equipment – she’s from a farm town. She could drive a 5-speed truck before she was a teen. Before that, she was operating her dad’s 4020 John Deere tractor. She was just 5 years old at the time. It’s like Liz was a trucking prodigy of sorts. However, it was one of her first jobs that really stoked her love of big rigs. In high school, she’d wash her neighbors’ trucks for cash. Most days, her customers would let her drive their trucks around.
Despite her truck-centric upbringing, Liz took a long, winding road to become a trucker. She worked in farm equipment repair, automotive parts manufacturing, and then hardware manufacturing. She had a successful 12-year stint at National Manufacturing Co., a century-old manufacturing plant. At National, Liz did a bit of everything. According to her feature with The Trucker, she said, “I’ve done a little bit of everything. I unloaded trucks, steel, and everything. Then, I became a die-setter. I set up presses and ran 200-ton presses, stamping out the hardware.”
However, National would soon close due to foreign competition. It was then that Imel turned to the trucking industry for her new career. ‘This is my chance,” she thought. Liz took the severance pay she received from National and enrolled in a CDL course at her local community college. By July 2012, she was a Maverick employee. Her first route was to the Tyson Chicken plant in Russelville, AR. The rest is history.
Since that fateful day, Liz put in 7 years exploring the country through Maverick’s refrigerated trailer division. After Maverick sold that division, she made the transition into the company’s newly acquired boat division. There, she’s been moving lowboy flatbed trailers all across the lower 48 states. According to Liz, she’s embracing the change. “It’s harder (than refrigerated), but it’s not a bad hard,” she said.
Like Clarissa Rankin, Liz Imel is another female driver who takes safety seriously. In her time with Maverick, Liz has established herself as a safe and extremely reliable driver. She’s a multiple-time winner of Maverick’s Driver of the Month award. In 2019, she won Maverick’s Driver of the Year award. She was also Women in Trucking’s Member of the Month for March 2021. “Maverick’s all about safety — the safety of the motoring public as well as their drivers,” she told The Trucker.
In fact, Liz readily uses the “newfangled” tech that other truckers denounce – as long as it helps her get there and back in one piece. She uses blind-spot cameras and dash cams. She even road-tested Stoneridge’s MirrorEye camera system which let “you see twice as much as you do in a regular mirror.” If only we had more Lizzes on the road, right?
Liz also enjoys many of trucking’s benefits. “I’ve made more money driving a truck than I did at a factory,” she said. With the money she amassed on the road, she bought a house sitting on roughly 4 acres. Also, given trucking’s flexibility, she’s able to spend time with her family and pour into her hobbies like gardening. To top it off, Maverick took great care of its drivers during the pandemic. So, between her disability insurance and Maverick’s help, Liz did just fine.
For women looking to join the trucking industry, Liz echoes Clarissa’s sentiments. You’ve got to be ready to work. “You have to be self-motivated… I don’t get paid if I’m sitting still.” Her electronic logbook keeps her accountable. “As soon as I start that clock, I’m rolling, because that’s how I get paid,” she said. Perhaps, it’s time more women got in on the act.
What things do you think will incentivize more women to become truckers? Leave your thoughts and answers in the comment section.