Jodie Teuton has crossed paths with the transportation industry throughout her life. Her father worked as a mechanic for a local dealership and later became a Dodge dealer when Teuton was four years old. Teuton then gained firsthand experience in the industry when she began working for another family business – a truck dealership located in Louisiana – after school and during summer hours at the age of 12.
“I started on the wash rack, worked in the parts warehouse, answered phones, worked the parts counter, picked up and delivered vehicles, was a service writer, and did accounting,” Teuton recalled.
Teuton earned a bachelor's of science in business from Nicholls State University in 1987 and her juris doctor degree from Loyola University in 1990. She practiced law locally in South Louisiana for several years before jumping back into the transportation industry, leaving law to work with her uncle at an automotive dealership, where she learned about dealership operations.
Applying some of that knowledge learned early on, Teuton now works as the vice president for Kenworth of Louisiana and Southland Truck Leasing, overseeing seven truck dealerships in the Pelican State. She co-founded the dealership group, which represents Kenworth and Hino brands, in 1997 with her husband and business partner, Scott Oliphant.
“Every day is different, so flexibility is important,” Teuton said. “My primary work focus is on people and money, but I am responsible for everything.”
Running a business in the trucking industry, Teuton confirmed her challenges are no different than others in the industry.
“The challenges have been the same kinds that every businessperson faces. The industry has been welcoming. It is traditionally male dominated, but that has not been a negative. We are family-focused, and for us that translates into good business,” said Teuton.
Inclusion through advocacy
When she’s not working to manage dealership operations, Teuton focuses on her family. One way she has done this is through advocating for those with disabilities. Her daughter, Victoria, was born with cerebral palsy, caused by a traumatic brain injury at birth. Because there was no intellectual impact and only minor physical impediments when Victoria was younger, she was not diagnosed with CP until high school.
“We, as a family, have had the journey of discovery, and now we're fully vested in that world and just advocating,” Teuton said. “When we talk about inclusion, you know with women and minorities, there's not enough inclusion for us, but there's virtually zero inclusion for people with disabilities.”
Her daughter will be a senior in college this fall. Since that diagnosis, Teuton has become a passionate advocate for those with CP, recognizing that individuals diagnosed with more moderate cases still have many quality-of-life challenges.
Teuton has helped to raise money for the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, an organization that helps to research the disorder in order to understand adverse brain injuries and provide improved quality of life for those with CP.
Teuton participates in several industry groups. She was the first woman elected as chair for the American Truck Dealers (ATD) in 2018. She currently serves as a board member for ATD as well as a member of the Kenworth Dealer Council and a member of Women in Trucking. Additionally, Teuton chairs a local dealership group.
In November 2020, she was recognized by the Women in Trucking’s 10th annual Most Influential Woman in Trucking. The award highlights women in the trucking industry who make or influence key decisions, have proven records of responsibility, and serve as role models to others in the industry.
For those just getting started in the commercial vehicle industry, Teuton suggested to “stick with it.”
“There are many opportunities,” she said. “It is not glamourous, but it is real and success is inevitable over the long haul.”
Teuton recognizes the importance of trucking to keeping the economy running and really enjoys being able to participate in the industry. “It touches everything,” she said. “It's real. It's the lifeblood of this country because it touches every aspect of who we are. I am proud to be a part of this industry.”