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Finalists named for WIT’s 2019 Influential Women in Trucking award



Plover, WI — Six finalists have been named for the Women In Trucking Association’s (WIT) annual Influential Woman in Trucking award. The award, cosponsored by Freightliner Trucks, is now in its ninth year. It was developed to honor female leaders and to attract and advance women in the trucking industry.

The award highlights the achievements of female role models and trailblazers in the trucking industry. More than 100 outstanding nominations were submitted for this year’s award, recognizing women in various roles in the industry.

The 2019 Influential Woman in Trucking award finalists are:

  • Niki Bolton, senior truck auditor & executive projects officer, American Truck & Rail Audits Inc.
  • Kristy Knichel, president & CEO, Knichel Logistics
  • Ruth Lopez, director of transportation management, Ryder Logistics
  • Kellylyn McLaughlin, over-the-road training engineer & professional driver, Schneider National Inc.
  • Jodie Teuton, vice president, Kenworth of Louisiana
  • Lidia Yan, CEO and co-founder, NEXT Trucking

Niki Bolton is the senior truck auditor and executive projects officer for American Truck & Rail Audits Inc. (AMTR). She has been with the company for 11 years. She began as a data entry clerk, quickly moved to truck audits team manager, received her Certified Transportation Cost Auditor certificate from AMTR, and then transitioned into her current role in early 2019. Prior to working


at AMTR, Bolton attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She has also completed Transportation Logistics & The Law and Motor Carrier Operations courses through the Institute of Logistical Management. In her very niche business, she has brought up many new auditors and a new female manager to lead the truck audits team.  She is involved in many industry organizations including National Industrial Transportation League, Blockchain in Transport Alliance and Transportation Intermediaries Association. Outside of the office, she volunteers as a leader for a nonprofit organization for foster and adoption care.



Kristy Knichel, president and CEO of Knichel Logistics since 2007, has been the driving force behind the company’s annual growth and reputation as one of the top service providers within the Intermodal Marketing Company community. As of 2018, Knichel Logistics has grown to $73 million in revenue.


Knichel’s proudest accomplishment is the family atmosphere she has created for her team members. Today, her focus is on expanding the company’s footprint in the logistics industry and offering team members the opportunity for growth and self- improvement. She has achieved many goals during her 20-plus years in the transportation industry, including being named a finalist for the EY Entrepreneur of the Year, being the first recipient of the Distinguished Woman in Logistics award, and her recent nomination as Intermodal Logistics Conference Chair on the TIA Board of Directors.



Ruth Lopez has achieved a 20-year career with Ryder Logistics and currently serves as director of transportation management, leading teams in the U.S. and in Mexico.


The teams are composed of transportation planners executing lowest-cost/time-compliant shipments in accordance with the expectations of 56 external clients. Lopez, along with her team, creates specific execution plans with comprehensive strategies for Ryder’s key customer segments and new client implementations. She has served as a co-chair for Ryder’s Women’s Leadership Forum, whose mission is to support the attraction, retention and development of women.



Kellylyn McLaughlin is an over-the-road professional driver and trainer for Schneider National Inc. Before getting behind the wheel of a CMV, she was a pilot and loves all modes of transportation.


She joined the US Peace Corps after university which led to more than a decade of working to support international development in rural communities. She then transitioned to passenger safety after becoming a mother and worked for both National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and SafeKids as a child passenger safety expert. She discovered professional driving quite by accident when she accepted a logistics position with a large marching band. She is now focusing her efforts on making a positive difference for drivers by being a professional driver stakeholder representative at local, regional, national and international levels, along with mentoring new drivers for SNI and advocating for women in trucking.


Jodie Teuton is the co-founder of Kenworth of Louisiana, a heavy-duty truck dealership group representing both Kenworth and Hino truck brands with eight Louisiana locations.


Before devoting her professional career to the retail auto and truck business in 1997, she practiced law locally in South Louisiana. Teuton received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Nicholls State University in 1987 and a J.D. from Loyola University in 1990. She is passionate about business and proud to carry on her family legacy as a dealer. She currently is president of American Truck Dealers – ATD (a division of the National Auto Dealers Association). Teuton is an advocate for her industry as well as for the rights of the disabled.



Lidia Yan is the CEO and co-founder of NEXT Trucking, a FreightTech company that is reshaping the $800 billion trucking and shipping industry. With a background in logistics and e-commerce in the U.S. and China, Yan recognized a market need for a simpler, technology-enabled marketplace to match freight with capacity.


In 2015, she founded NEXT as the first trucker-centric app and marketplace. Since then, she has led the company to 500% revenue growth, 250-plus employees, and $125 million in funding. She has been a finalist for EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year, received a Stevie Award for Startup of the Year, and has been recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal Women’s Council and Awards. Prior to founding NEXT, Yan was a marketing executive at top 10 e-commerce retailer, Newegg.

The judges for the 2019 award are Ellen Voie, WIT president and CEO; Dave Nemo, talk show host, Sirius XM Radio; and Angela Eliacostas, founder and CEO, AGT Global Logistics and the 2018 Influential Woman in Trucking award recipient.

All six finalists will participate on a panel at the WIT Accelerate! Conference & Expo in Dallas Sept. 30 – Oct. 2. The winner will be announced at the general session panel discussion, “How Remarkable Women Unleash their Leadership Potential,” on Tues., Oct. 1.

The finalists will also be on the SiriusXM WIT Show on Sat., Sept. 14 from 11a.m. – 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Road Dog Channel 146.

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The Nation

Lane Departures: Why would California lawmakers saddle trucking with the ABC test?




Well, he said he’d do it.

If you look elsewhere on this website, you’ll see a story I did about a week ago about AB5, a bill passed by the California Senate on September 10 into the waiting arms of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had long telegraphed he was looking forward to signing it.

Yesterday, he did it. And come the new year, trucking is going to have to live with it.

AB5 — the full name is the “Employees and Independent Contractors” bill — is ostensibly intended to prevent employers from exploiting workers and skirting expenses by relying on “independent contractors” to make their businesses run instead of hiring full-fledged employees, who come with all kinds of nasty baggage like guaranteed minimum wages, overtime and payroll taxes, mandatory breaks, insurance and other horrific profit reducers.

The bill got off the ground in the wake of a court case last year in which a delivery company called Dynamex was determined to have improperly reclassified its workers as independent contractors in order to save money.  In making the decision, the court applied what is known as the ABC test, which presumes all workers should be classified as employees unless they meet three criteria.

Like the court case, the bill, which will codify the ABC test across the state, seems to have been at least in spirit aimed at companies like Dynamex that are part of that there so-called “gig economy” all the young folks are so hopped up about. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are almost always mentioned as Public Enemies 1A and 1B of supposed independent contractor charlatans.

The problem with AB5, its critics say, is it proposes to perform an appendectomy with a chainsaw, ripping into industries that have long-established business models that extensively use independent contractors to the satisfaction of all involved.

A great big example would be trucking, because it appears the ABC test would prevent carriers from contracting with owner-operators or smaller fleets in California. I’ll let you imagine the consequences if that’s true.

If you’ve read the article, or your planning to read the article, I’d like to apologize in advance because as I’ve been learning about this AB5 business, I have some lingering questions that I could not answer. I have calls out to a couple of experts on the legal and logistical nuances. Unfortunately, experts don’t observe journalistic deadlines.

But then, I figured, this story is going to be around a while, so we can keep building on what we know. I may have answers to some of these questions by the time you read this. Or maybe you will be able to provide some of the answers. I mean, you don’t need to have a title or a degree or be part of a think tank to know a thing or two.

My first question is this: They didn’t pull this ABC test out of thin air. A majority of states already use the test in some manner on matters of job status. California’s application of ABC is based on Massachusetts’ broad, strict use of the test. So, hasn’t trucking had to contend with this standard there and in in other states already? I haven’t heard reports of empty store shelves in Massachusetts. Is there some simple workaround already in existence just waiting for cooler heads to prevail?

Second, from what I gather, ABC has had its critics for as long as it’s existed. Is it just the sheer size of California’s economy that makes this case so important or somehow different?

I’m going to go way out on a limb and say “probably.” Last year, California’s economy outgrew that of Great Britain. If it were an independent country, California would have the fifth-largest economy in the world. And what happens in California rarely stays in California. The state has a major influence on the rest of the nation.

California’s economy is closing in on $3 trillion a year. Real estate, finance, the entertainment industry and that nest of tech behemoths in Silicon Valley are responsible for big chunks of that.

And let’s not forget agriculture. California ranches and farms reaped $50 billion in receipts in 2017. That’s a lot of food, a lot of truckloads.

California also has some of the nation’s largest seaports. The Port of Long Beach alone sees about $200 billion in cargo a year, with 11,000 truckloads leaving the port each day. And most of what doesn’t go by truck from there eventually winds up on a truck somewhere inland.

Add it all up, and trucking is a huge player in the California economic machine. Why would lawmakers want to strip its gears with this law? Some lawmakers are even on record saying they are worried about what this could do to the industry. Then why are they doing it?

The bill’s sponsor, Democrat Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego, is not some gung-ho rookie lawmaker. She’s in her third term, and she already has made a national name for herself as a champion of the working class with several pieces of legislation she has supported.

AB5 could fit into that collection quite nicely. But it isn’t a trophy she needs in a hurry. She won her last two reelection campaigns by about a 3-1 margin.

And she’s also been around enough that she surely understands that despite its best intentions, the broad-stroke, one-size-fits-all approach AB5 takes will do more harm than good to many industries, including trucking.

In fact, she’s as much as said so. Gonzalez has already indicated that once the bill becomes law, she’d be open to making amendments and granting exemptions.

So why wait? The bill already grants exemptions to real estate, to doctors and dentists. Even newspaper delivery people got a last-minute, one-year exemption.

The California Trucking Association and the Western States Trucking Association pushed for an exemption. Dozens of truck drivers testified in Sacramento. And you have to think state legislators are at least vaguely aware of what goes on in their own districts.

So, they could grasp the importance of the guy who throws a newspaper in their driveway from a passing car at 4 a.m., but not of the people who deliver, like, everything everywhere all the time?

We all know how long fixing bad legislation can take. Even if they put it on the “fast track,” how much damage will occur before trucking can get an exemption?

I did hear back from one legal expert on the matter. Greg Feary, president and managing partner at Scopelitus, Garvin, Light, Hansen and Feary LLC, said there are a couple of cases in Ninth Circuit Court that could spell relief for the trucking industry. Even so, the legal system can move almost as slowly as the legislative system. He estimates California truckers are going to have to live with AB5 for at least a year.

Questions abound. I’m not looking forward to some of the answers.

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The Nation

Trucking submarine style in Texas



Texas is getting hit hard with flooding.  This takes it to new levels!

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The Nation

Flooding in Texas – That cab’s gonna be a bit damp!



KHOU reporter Melissa Correa happened to be on scene and captured this video.  Another motorist grabbed a hammer and rope and saved the drivers life.

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