Driver, trucking advocate Jess Graham receives truck makeover

Sept. 19, 2022
Owner-operator had the sleeper cab of her 1995 Freightliner FLD renovated by Transfix for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

There are home makeover shows and there are car makeover shows, but when owner-operator Jess Graham had her rig renovated, it was like having her house and vehicle upgraded at the same time.

The sleeper berth of Graham’s 1995 Freightliner FLD, nicknamed "The Black Widow," received a makeover from logistics company Transfix as part of its second-annual “TransFIX My Rig” contest for National Truck Driver Appreciation Week.

"When I found out, I was speechless … and that is not like me at all,” Graham said in a Transfix press release. “I love my truck like a proud mom. I've spent so much time working on her and renovating her myself but haven't had much time lately to make it exactly what I want. This is more than I could have ever asked for!”

She was selected by a panel of Transfix team members who were impressed by Graham’s work as a board member of Real Women in Trucking, her 2021 Trucking Industry Trailblazer Award, and that she was highlighted as one of FleetOwner’s Women in Transportation 2020.

See also: Women in Transportation 2022: Trailblazers in trucking

Graham, who is based in Atlanta, told FleetOwner she was thrilled to have her No. 1 request fulfilled, a proper desk workspace so she would no longer need to balance her laptop on a bulky steering wheel. In addition to her work with Real Women in Trucking, she also does paperwork not only for her own business as an owner-operator but to manage drivers and brokerage for GTO Trucking.

“There’s so much space for Zoom meetings!” Graham exclaimed during the livestream reveal on Transfix’s LinkedIn.

The makeover also included lighting with dimmer switches, skull wallpaper, a refrigerator, and a coffee pot. The project was led by Jason Cameron, a TV host who has appeared on over 500 episodes of home renovation programs, including DIY Network’s "Man Caves" and "Desperate Landscapes," and "Secret Celebrity Renovation" on CBS.

See also: Five good things in trucking: A spotlight on driver appreciation

Graham expressed gratitude toward Transfix, feeling the company made more of an effort than most businesses during National Truck Driver appreciation week by renovating her truck and also distributing comfort kits to all nominated truckers.

“I think driver appreciation is one of those, ‘We appreciate you, so here's your cup coozie and your hot dog,’” Graham said. “So not trying to brag, but Jason Cameron gave me a coffee pot.”

Graham advocates for truckers

As a board member of Real Women in Trucking, Graham helps mentor women truck drivers and raise awareness about unsafe truck driver training for women.

“Only one in six women make it out of their first year and into a career as a truck driver,” Graham said, adding that most of the problems women encounter are during mega carriers’ training in the first three to six months.

See also: Sisters of the Road: Documenting the lives of women truckers

She has worked with Real Women in Trucking to plan events for the Queen of the Road Award, which has shared the stories of 78 women drivers since 2017. Graham said it is the first award to be given to women truckers based on merits and things they’ve overcome, and not on beauty. Nominations for the 7th Queen of the Road Award are expected to open in November.

“There's not one woman that whose story we shared that is not strong,” Graham said. “If you're out here and you've made it out of your first year, I think you are she-woman.”

Graham also volunteers at Truckers Emergency Assistance Responders (TEAR), a nonprofit that operates a donation-based relief fund to aid drivers stranded on the road due to carrier abandonment, accident, weather, illness, or injury.

Graham is also active in Georgia’s Truck Parking Coalition. She—along with other advocates in different states—speaks with state employees on how to acquire and apply Title 23 funds via Jason’s Law to get federal dollars for truck parking.

Graham said she hopes others will join her in efforts to make the industry more equitable.

“I’d love to see more women telling the story of the women out here that you don’t know about.”

About the Author

Scott Keith

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