Failing is not an option.
Those five words, comprising Lynne Cover’s motto, define her both personally and professionally.
The co-founder and current CEO of Elite Service Inc. in Denver, PA, she has for 30 years helped grow a flatbed shipping business that now boasts 25 trucks and 36 trailers operating across the U.S. and Canada.
Along the way she beat breast cancer.
It’s been quite a ride for the plucky Cover, who, along with her husband and company co-founder Ron Cover, still works a full-time schedule at Elite.
“When we started, it was after deregulation of trucking in the ’80s,” Lynne said. “My husband bought the first truck in 1978, then three more, and asked me to help build the business. I was a respiratory therapist. I told him I’d give the business 10 years of my life and then was going back to the medical field because it was what I loved. We borrowed twice the value of our house, but it worked out.”
While the couple worked side by side, Lynne credited Ron for being confident the risk would be rewarded.
“He’s the inspiration for all of this,” she said. He set up the business and it runs. We do whatever it takes. Ron made me be good. He pulled me into it—and I’m glad he did. On my own, I would not have risked everything. He is the vision man.”
Today, the company staff includes daughter Diana Porter and her husband John, and daughter Rebecca Yoder and her husband Ron. Rebecca is Elite’s president.
Lynne Cover’s life took an ominous turn in 2011 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As part of her 26-week treatment she underwent four surgeries, 26 chemotherapy treatments, and 34 radiation treatments.
During that time, she missed three days of work. Tough lady.
“My goal is running a 5K this summer, and then I will consider myself cured,” she said.
Learning every aspect of the trucking business consumed Lynne early and even now.
“In the beginning, I read every business book I could, and I earned a CDL,” she said. “I would drive during summers. Just recently we drove to Atlanta. It was an adventure. The industry is a challenge. Today, you need to know regulations, know weight. Driving a 75-ft. unit in cities takes a spatially intelligent person.”
One of Elite Service’s trucks is a tribute to Lynne Cover. It is a pink, 75-ft. billboard breast cancer awareness truck, purchased with help from Paccar Financial, and it raises money to assist women with breast cancer.
Lynne’s son-in-law Ron Yoder drives the specially designed working truck. People along his routes give him thumbs up signals and often tell him about their own relatives who have bravely battled the disease.
The truck also has four stripes on it.
“My husband came up with that idea, too,” she said. “[The stripes] stand for Responsibility, Integrity, Commitment and Honesty–RICH. It keeps employees aligned with our goals.
“Ron’s always thinking how we can improve. A good business will solve customers’ problems.”
Lynne was active in sports and other activities for many years.
“Parachuting, scuba diving, flying… I had a pilot’s license at the end of the 1990s,” she said. “I got too busy with the business and stopped flying. But for three years there, we had a blast.”
Between Elite raising money for cancer victims and the pink truck, Lynne’s medical ordeal is never far from her mind.
“Cancer wasn’t in my family,” said Lynne. “I never would have expected it. But having had the cancer experience was good for me in a way, crazy as that sounds. I had to learn to give up things.
“Sometimes it’s hard to give up control. I had to let employees do more things and just be in the background. It was much better for the business. We did cross training to help people step up.
“My job now is to get this business to run without me. When I’ve done that, then I will have been successful in my life’s work.”