To Chief Carriers’ flatbed driver, Jolene Franzen, trucking is one of those industries that has long had a reputation for needing a certain breed of individual to get the job done right every day. Major life changes are frequently behind the moments that everything changes for the better, and the reason for the raw enthusiasm and determined spirit that allows one to push on. Chief Carriers’ superstar and warrior-behind-the-wheel Jolene Franzen completed the training for her CDL at the age of 48 after years of enjoying the road with her husband Gary. Jolene is a part of a growing number of women in trucking across America.
She had already enjoyed her previous experience working for Hinz Trucking based out of Elm Creek, Nebraska before officially receiving her CDL, and had long known deep down inside that she wanted to drive flatbed. Just like many individuals who are instrumental and high achieving within their specialized territory, she was told many times that she would not be able to achieve her goals. During the height of what were very difficult times for the trucking industry in our nation, she endured a grave difficulty herself and was accidentally thrown off her trailer in July of 2009. During her necessary recovery period, she greatly enjoyed the time spent with her grandchildren Adrian, Haylee, Scarlet Rose, Killian, and Chance, and would still occasionally spend time on the road with Gary. Unexpectedly passing away at the age of 60 from a pulmonary embolism that moved up to his heart, Gary Franzen was dutifully hauling grain up to the day of his passing, and this affected Jolene’s spirit and determination greatly for quite some time.
Jolene then dove headfirst into the rewarding hobby of jewelry crafting and then saw an ad last year for Chief Carriers. She wondered aloud to herself immediately if anyone would deem her fit and capable for the job, as she also had not been behind the wheel for over 3 years. She began as a Casual Driver for Chief last July and will soon enjoy the thrilling and inspiring milestone of her first full year here as a member of the Chief Carriers family.
Applauding The Adage that Age “Is Just a Number”
When asked what valuable advice she has for other women who want to have a role in the trucking industry, she spoke with true wisdom and the knowledge that “Age is just a number and embracing the ‘I can do it’ mentality is the way to consistently succeed in life”. She also noted that Chief is the employer she has been with that has treated her with the highest level of respect as a woman, and the other family members on deck always have her back. At the Fleet Safety Awards Banquet in February, she looked dazzling in a formal dress, and literally, let down her hair while enjoying the comradery and fellowship of her supporters and team members helping solve the nation’s supply chain issues one mile at a time.
While women have been joining the talent pool in trucking for many years now, flatbed is still predominately occupied by men most likely because of the physical nature of the job. For Chief Carriers, women like Jolene are groundbreakers and prove they are more than capable of the demands of the job. Jolene’s knowledge of the trucking industry coupled with her vibrant personality makes her a great fit for our team and the Chief culture. ~ Andrew Winkler, General Manager of Chief Carriers.
As legendary musician Jason Isbell once sang to his beloved followers that “This Highway’s Mean”, Jolene listens intently and expertly to her truck every day while on the road for any tick that indicates potential trouble. One of the biggest stressors for a flatbed driver is harsh weather, and Jolene has long appreciated just how intently focused on safety the staff at Chief is, always noting that it’s not worth the risk to be on the road just to meet a deadline if conditions are that treacherous.
We are always beyond excited to highlight the achievements and great attitudes of our skilled team members, and Jolene has gone above and beyond while proudly representing the Chief Carriers brand. Make sure to give her an annually achieved high-five if you see her at the home office in Grand Island, Nebraska, while we consistently enjoy the tremendous efforts and outright charisma of every valuable team member.