AYR, Ont. – Shelley Uvanile-Hesch is beaming like anyone who receives the keys to a brand new truck. But the Sharp Transportation driver is particularly proud of the message her Western Star 5700XE will soon carry back and forth to the U.S.
The truck is wrapped with pictures of women who have found a place in Canada’s trucking industry, and promotes the Women’s Trucking Federation of Canada, a grassroots organization that Uvanile-Hesch serves as chief executive officer.
“The women represented on the side of this truck are all in the industry and they are trendsetters all in their own right,” she told a crowd at the truck’s unveiling at Promotional Graphics Group. “We have a professional driver – me, an operations manager, a technician, a sales and PR specialist, and a teacher.”
Funding for the wrap came through Western Star itself, after Uvanile-Hesch reached out to Kelley Platt, who until recently was the manufacturer’s president and the chief diversity and inclusion officer for Daimler Trucks North America. Highway Western Star, a dealership with its main branch in Ayr, has also been a supporter of the group.
Uvanile-Hesch has dubbed the truck Miss Destiny Star, and in a couple of weeks will turn in the keys for her 2016 model that has enjoyed the name. Until then, there’s another load of pharmaceuticals to ship to the U.S. with her husband, Chris.
The Women’s Trucking Federation has gradually grown to include about 260 people in a mentorship program, supported by 19 corporate partners. And Challenger Motor Freight recently boosted the ranks by covering the membership costs for every woman in its fleet.
“We deal with everyone at the grassroots,” Uvanile-Hesch says, stressing the federation’s commitment to guiding careers in the driver’s seat and beyond. “We have to get more out there and showcase this.”
“Women don’t have to support other women,” she told the crowd, reading a quote to recognize the occasion. “But so many of us choose to because we know we’re better together.”