KERSEY, Colo. (AP) — Working at her husband’s trucking company for years, Dawn Tesch saw firsthand the difficulties he faced keeping his drivers on the road.
Not because of work ethic or performance issues.
Federal and state regulations for documenting everything drivers do threatened to pull him under.
“Watching that struggle and being in trucking, and seeing the frustration of the other owner-operators, I just thought there was a place in this world for me to help them and stick up for them,” said Tesch, who started Compliance Specialists of Colorado five years ago, sort of as an offsite human resources manager solely for trucking companies.
“The trucking industry is truly the heartland of America,” Tesch said. “Everything we have is because of trucks. I’ve yet to see a plane, train or a boat deliver and unload at Walmart. They deserve respect, and they deserve to be understood.”
Tesch explained all trucking companies must comply with 3-inch- thick book of regulations, keeping drivers in check through the state and the Federal Motor Carriers Association. Drivers are subject to drug testing, background checks, and keeping daily logs of their hours, time cards and receipts. Companies are audited for this documentation regularly, and drivers often are written up in the field for not complying.
Such documentation can pile up on a trucking company owner if he doesn’t keep up with it; Tesch does the work for them.
Tesch grew up in trucking. Her father was a trucker, and his job took his life. Her brothers haul hazardous materials. She married a trucker, who later owned his own business. She originally went to school to be a nurse, then she moved into the HR functions in her husband’s company.
But divorce put her out of a job, and she took what she knew and started running her business out of her basement.
From those humble beginnings building on relationships with livestock haulers, Tesch and her small team of three employees today keep track of about 400 drivers in Weld County, about half of which come from the oil and gas industry. In all, she covers about 160 carriers.
“Thank god for livestock,” she said, but diversifying is very good and very smart. My dad taught me two things: Never count my chickens before they hatch and never put my eggs in the same basket. I don’t know why he did all that around chickens, but he did, bless his heart.”
She started in 2009 with five clients from her basement. Then she moved to a spot in Kersey Pizza, and added an employee.
Along the way, she’s had to tackle some tough customers — old-timers who wanted nothing to do with her brand of compliance with regulations. She wraps a smile around that motherly exterior, and insists on her way. Not once has one of those old guys left her office not learning something new, she said.
“Let’s face it, I’m a woman in a man’s world,” Tesch said. “I grew up in a male’s world, so I got my swimming skills back then as a little girl. I don’t let them push me around.”
She says her brand of compliance involves not only working with drivers when they have violations in their paperwork, and teaching them right way to document their activities. It’s also about building them up. With every phone call, her staff is to find three good things the driver did that month to balance the conversations.
“These guys are just out trying to make a living and if every time my office called them and it was something bad,” they’d never pick up the phone, she said. “We want to correct the mistakes and teach you how to fix that to follow the regulations correctly.
“I tell my carriers, ‘My friend list is full. I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to protect you, the carrier, and I don’t have a problem (upsetting) a driver.’ They’ll do it the right way because my objective ultimately is to set that carrier up for success.”
Last September, she moved her office into the First National Bank Building in Kersey and added a couple more employees.
“I didn’t think I’d get to this level in five years,” Tesch said. “When we moved here, we signed a five-year contract. In three months, I went, “Oh, No. What did I just do?’ I think we’re going to need more space.”
Information from: The Tribune of Greeley, Co, http://greeleytribune.com