Trucking isn’t just a man’s world, and Loretta Bruyere of FedEx Freight is proving it.
Bruyere, 48, won the Twins class and captured Grand Champion honors at the New Mexico Truck Driving Championships on May 19, earning her first trip to nationals.
In parts of two decades of driving, Bruyere, of Fruitland, N.M., has compiled nearly 2 million safety miles, and with her recent accomplishments is beginning to make a name for herself in the trucking industry.
And to think that she had a difficult time becoming a trucker in the first place — mostly, she says, because of her gender.
“There was like five companies that turned me down. I got interviews with them, but the person that was interviewing me was a man and told me, ‘This [the interview] is as far as you are going to get, and you’re not going to get the job because we don’t think you can handle it,’” Bruyere said.
At that point Bruyere was beginning to think she might never become a truck driver.
“It was frustrating and degrading. I just kept telling myself, ‘Just keep going and eventually someone will hire you,’” Bruyere said.
Finally, her persistence paid off. After a two-year job search, RAC Transport hired her as a pickup and delivery driver in 2005. Bruyere worked there until 2011. On July 5, 2011, FedEx hired Bruyere as a city driver, and she’s been on the road ever since.
Women make up about 8% of over-the-road drivers, according to a 2017 report by the National Transportation Institute. In addition to Bruyere, Arizona’s Ina Daly of XPO Logistics also earned Grand Champion honors this year. They will join several other women competing for national titles in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 15-18.
Bruyere likes being on the road, but she also likes proving herself to other drivers.
“It feels great knowing that you can do the job like most men can even though you’re told you can’t,” Bruyere said. “That’s what I like about it.”
One instance particularly stands out to Bruyere.
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level advance to the national competition, with a grand champion crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills
When: Aug. 15-18
Where: Columbus, Ohio
“About two years ago, I was driving Green River, Utah. I got there and there’s nothing but guys at the truck stop there and that’s where they do the swaps. One of the guys came up to me and he tells me, ‘You drive for FedEx?’I told him, ‘Yes, I do.’ ‘Wow!’ he goes, ‘I didn’t know that FedEx hired women.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, they do.’ He goes, ‘You’re the first FedEx driver that’s a lady that I’ve ever seen.’ I was like, ‘Thank you!’ It felt good.”
When it comes to the championships, Bruyere just did what she does best — drive.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m actually preparing. Even for the state championships, I didn’t practice or anything,” Bruyere said. “When I went, I just drove the way that I usually drive semis when I’m working, and I don’t know, it all just came together for me.”
Besides hoping to place at nationals, Bruyere hopes to see more women compete.
“I don’t see many women at states compete in the semis. They usually just do step van. I wish I could see more women doing the other parts of competition like Straight Truck and 3-axle and all that. But, I don’t see any in the state of New Mexico,” Bruyere said. “I am hoping that more women would just stop being afraid to compete with the guys. I know most women can do it. They’re just as good as drivers as the guys that compete in the competition. They shouldn’t be afraid to show their skills and what they can do.”
Other New Mexico winners headed for nationals are:
- Kirk Weiss of ABF Freight in Straight Truck
- Celso Romero of FedEx Freight in 3-axle
- Parcell James of FedEx Freight in 4-axle
- Duane Oldfield of ABF Freight in 5-axle
- Ralph Garcia of ABF Freight in Sleeper Berth
- Gerald Benavidez Sr. of ABF Freight in Flatbed
- Carl Marquez of ABF Freight in Tank Truck
- Chris Shaw of FedEx Express in Step Van