PORT WILLIAMS, N.S. - For most parents, the thought of sending their newly educated 23-year-old out into the world can be a scary thing. They have to learn to fend for themselves in a hurry; forced to...
FUTURE LOOKING BRIGHT: Jessica and Edwin Corkum have a bright future ahead of them at Evangeline Transport, with Jessica being groomed for a possible management position down the line.
PORT WILLIAMS, N.S. – For most parents, the thought of sending their newly educated 23-year-old out into the world can be a scary thing. They have to learn to fend for themselves in a hurry; forced to pinch every penny in an attempt to maintain financial equilibrium. It’s the kind of situation that makes most college grads shudder after many long years as customers at the Bank of Mom and Dad.
But what if your child was not just in charge of their own finances, but your company’s as well? Now that could be scary.
But Edwin Corkum, president of Evangeline Transport, a Nova Scotian carrier specializing in local, long haul and forestry trucking, doesn’t find it scary at all. Corkum’s daughter Jessica is doing for Evangeline what most people her age can’t do for themselves: balance a budget.
Jessica has been working in Evangeline’s accounting department for more than a year, preparing financial statements, costing, budgets and payroll. Though her time on staff has been relatively short, her interest in working at Evangeline for a career began when she started taking business courses at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, N.S. a couple of years previous.
For Edwin, the benefit of having his daughter onboard has been twofold. For one, Jessica brings youth to the table, and with that comes fresh ideas and a willingness for change unrivaled by most industry veterans. Since her start with the company, Jessica has instilled many such changes, including new software for both Evangeline’s maintenance shop and dispatch, and also has a few plans up her sleeve to help increase fleet size. But Jessica also brings a feminine touch to the business, which has been much appreciated by many of the staff at Evangeline. Jessica has initiated many simple, yet thoughtful perks – like summer barbeques, raffles and cake on employee birthdays – to a business that has struggled with a series of half-hearted attempts at employee recognition.
“I was aware that there were things I wasn’t doing – things employees would like to do differently,” Edwin admits. “You just get so busy with things when you’re working hands-on-up-to-your-elbows all the time. Jessica has been instrumental in bringing in new software, trying to streamline paperwork and increase employee morale.”
But despite all the improvements Jessica has been bringing to the business, working side-by-side all day with her father is bound to cause some unwanted friction on home life. The solution? Simple: have separate homes.
“Before I bought my own house, any problems or discussions that came up at work were continued right to the kitchen table,” Jessica explains. “There was no line between work and home life. This has improved because now when we see each other outside of work, it is a family setting and we steer clear of work-related topics.”
The line between work and home was becoming increasingly blurred, especially with Jessica’s brothers Ian and Ryan also involved with Evangeline, so both father and daughter agree that the house purchase was a positive event.
Both Jessica and her father work daily to make sure she’s treated like any other employee, by having her pull her own weight and earning respect the old-fashioned way. But the respect they show each other goes beyond a simple employer/employee relationship or even a father/daughter one. The respect comes from being able to finally putting themselves in the other’s shoes and being able to say they truly understand where the other is coming from.
“A lot of the things he used to complain about I never got when I was younger. But now I understand where some of the stress comes from,” Jessica says. “Since working together, dad and I can relate to each other a lot more. Our working relationship improves with every year that we work together.”
“The relationship between Jessica and I, as a result of working together, has enabled us to understand each other better and brought us closer,” Edwin says. “I very much enjoy having Jessica around. Jessica and I sometimes have our differences about issues, but we manage to get together and resolve our issues. We both want the same end result.”
That end result is a better business, and with Jessica poised to take the reigns from her father one day, she hopes she will lead Evangeline well into the future. And as a young woman working in an industry constantly battling stereotypes, Jessica also hopes her own experiences with trucking will encourage other young women to get involved.
“The trucking industry is plagued with so many stereotypes. I like to make an effort to educate young people on the trucking industry, letting them know that this industry has so many opportunities for both male and female,” she says. “There is something that intrigues me about the trucking industry; maybe it is the lack of women or the always changing environment. I love change and I love to learn, so naturally the trucking industry is perfect for me.”