Almost every professional driver will tell you, one of the worst aspects about being a truck driver is that it can be a lonely occupation. Days turn into weeks on the road and if you have a spouse waiting for you back at home, things can get stressful.
So it only made sense that somewhere along the line, a driver had the idea to invite their spouse with them on the road, not only to keep them company but to earn some extra cash as their team driver. Usually, the average 50-something driver invites his wife on the road (Women in Trucking Association says the average age of a female truck driver is 52) with him after the kids are out of the house. Together they can earn more money and travel North America without missing each other.
This trend has caught on, and more and more husband and wife driving teams are popping up across North America. Some say it could help solve the driver shortage by getting more people into the industry and could also assist in getting more women get behind the wheel.
But husband and wife driving team Harwinder and Ramandeep Dhaliwal, are different.
What makes the Dhaliwals noteworthy is that they are the ideal drivers almost every fleet in North America is looking to hire. They’re young – both just 29 years old. They’re both visible minorities – Harwinder was actually born in India. And they both have a passion for learning and driving trucks with an ambition to grow their careers in the industry.
Today, they drive for Speedy Transport as owner-operators and are loving every minute of it, forming a team both on and off the road.
So what brought them into trucking in the first place?
“The money,” admits Harwinder.
Harwinder moved to Canada in 2013 from India when he decided that he’d give trucking a go.
“In my community, a lot of people were trucking and they told me it was good money so I figured I would try it out too,” he recalls. “I got my licence and started doing long-haul because I didn’t have much experience. I was on the road for five days at a time and I was only home with my wife for a day-and-a-half.”
Eventually, Harwinder got a gig as a short-haul driver at a company that had many husband and wife driving teams. Curious, he asked his company if he could train his wife so she could join him in the truck.
“They said I could train her and she wanted to learn, so I did,” he said.
Ramandeep started her driving career as a team driver in 2014 and so far, she loves it. What attracted her most to the career is something a lot of other millennials could find intriguing about the job: the independence she gains from the open road and the fact she can travel on the job.
“What appealed to me was that there is no boss around to constantly watch you,” she said. “I used to work security before this and my boss was always around watching over me. I couldn’t go on my cell phone or anything, but on the road, you’re on your own. I really like the independence. Plus you get to travel and see things. You’re not stuck in the office all day.”
Harwinder said his favorite part of the job, especially as an owner-operator, is there is room for him to grow…and to grow as much as he wants.
“In trucking, there is lots of opportunity,” he said. “Most of the time you can choose your runs and it’s flexible. You can plan your goals and realistically achieve them in trucking.”
Harwinder’s goal of becoming an owner-operator happened late last year when he and Ramandeep joined Speedy Transport.
“We chose Speedy initially because of their rates,” he said candidly, but added they were willing to sign him and his wife on as owner-operators, something his previous company wouldn’t do. “When we met with them, they were also professional and it seemed like they had good management.”
Today, the couple runs from Speedy’s Brampton, Ont. facility to Charlotte N.C. and then back up to the company’s terminal in Montreal. They are normally gone for five days – they leave early afternoon on Monday and are back home Saturday mornings. Being a young couple in the trucking industry, the Dhaliwals certainly turn some heads.
“When we’re at Customs, a lot of the officers will joke with us and say ‘You’re married? Still?’” Ramandeep said.
But if there’s one thing the couple has figured out it’s how to be a husband and wife both in and out of the truck.
“We’ve been driving team for two years now, so we know how to take care of each other,” Ramandeep said. “I still like to be a wife and so I do the wifely duties in the truck, like the cooking and the cleaning.”
She also takes credit for bringing nutrition goals into the truck for the benefit of both her and Harwinder.
“When Harry was driving single he was out of shape and gained some weight,” she said. “But when we started working together I helped with his diet and made meal plans, including smoothies and salads, so he wouldn’t be eating those gas station goodies. And he takes care of me, too. He does the heavy lifting and the loading and unloading, especially in the cold weather.”
“We work well together,” Harwinder added. “If I’m getting sleepy I can always ask her to take over…and she learned to drive very quickly and always gets compliments when we’re on the road. She’s been doing such a great job.”
Ramandeep said that as a woman she feels empowered in her new career.
“I haven’t found it to be discriminating at all,” she said. “It’s empowering, really. People look at me all the time and say ‘Oh my god, you’re driving a truck?’ And that feels good because so many drivers are men and so when they see me driving a truck too, it’s kind of like a hit on their ego because I can do it too.”
And while the couple does find comfort in the fact that now they are together all the time on the road, it still gets hard when they miss family events. But the couple says their family understands why they are away so much and supports them entirely.
“And it gets hard running errands and things like that. But we’ve learned to use our time wisely on the weekend,” Ramandeep added.
Looking into the future, the Dhaliwals say they are going to continue their careers as drivers with the ultimate goal of owning a few more trucks in the next five to 10 years.
“Our goal is to own a few more trucks and have a business,” Harwinder said optimistically. “There’s a lot of big trucking companies that started off with just one truck, so you never know.”
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