Behind the Trucking Wheel with Michelle Harris Deadwiler
Not every day, you come across a woman-owned CDL school or someone like Michelle Harris Deadwiler, who is fearless in challenging outdated stereotypes about women drivers. Not only did the self-made small business owner have the vision to create and lead a woman-owned CDL school, but she also had the determination to challenge outdated gender stereotypes about women drivers. It’s no coincidence that Ms. Deadwiler forged such a remarkable path for herself despite adversities. After all, she made the brave decision to take charge of her life and her destiny instead of doing what society dictated her role should be. Through it all, Ms. Deadwiler stands as an inspiring example of resilience and strength – not just for other female drivers but everyone who dreams of achieving the incredible with their lives.
Her commitment to empowering others shines through her work and shows complete confidence in her ability to make a difference. Despite any barriers thrown her way, Michelle overcame them with a go-getter attitude and an incredible work ethic. She didn’t let herself be pigeonholed by gender roles along the way! In a brief interview with WE Empower magazine, we get to know her path to trucking and the growing pains of working with her husband.
Hi, Michelle. Thank you for taking the time to speak with WE Empower Magazine. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
My name is Michelle Harris Deadwiler. I am the CEO of 3 Rivers Trucking School. Mother of 3 and wife of Arie Deadwiler. I was born in Gary, Indiana, in Miller projects. My childhood prepared me to be the woman I am today. Nothing was ever given to me. This has a lot to do with my success, as I don’t want anything handed to me; I want to work for it. Working for it gives me value.
You previously shared that the transportation industry chose you. What were you doing before, and what was the mental shift like switching gears to something you had never done?
I have always worked in customer service, and most of my responses to situations had to be logical and thought through, but in trucking, my responses could have been more logical. It was like, I want to go right; I need to turn left. That didn’t make sense to me. It took me a while to comprehend that I was driving the trailer and not the tractor, which to me was backward, see this was difficult for me to grasp cause in customer service, you have to deal with what is in front of you, not behind. So, it’s safe to say I learned to deal with things from all angles.
What was it like your first time behind an 18-wheeler truck?
My first time behind the wheel was frightening as I was afraid of the truck because this big truck was intimidating. And at first, it was hard to keep my truck on the road because I was so focused on the small cars and trying not to hit anyone. But after a few miles and stops, I realized that the truck would only do what I told it to do, which meant I was entirely in control of this beast. And I eventually learned to love being in control of that truck, somehow mastering that truck was like mastering my life, and the more I got it under control, the more my life was getting under control.
Behind the wheel, you can escape your problems for a little while. How are you able to cope when you are not on the road?
Now trucking has taught me how to sit and plan instead of rushing to a solution. You get so used to sitting and waiting on a load that I finally started to use that time to plan my goals out, and when the time was right, I had a plan of execution. That is great trait trucking taught me. So, trucking has taught me in my downtime to plan so that when things get moving again, I have the plan to execute.
How is it working with your husband? Were there growing pains that had to be overcome as business partners?
Working with my husband is not easy, buts it better now but definitely not easy. When we started, he looked at me as his wife in the truck, so he felt the need to protect me, so there were certain things he did not allow me to do, like pump fuel or alley dock, so I was a little handicapped. Until one day, he got sick, and I had to do everything he wouldn’t let me do. Thank God I was watching him do those things because when I had to do so, he just did it with no questions. I was parking and booking load by myself. I was pulling all my own weight in the truck, and he saw that, and it was like he felt this sense of calmness about it, and he realized I was now a partner, but I worked for that title with him. I’ve earned it.
How can people connect with you? And do you have anything upcoming that you would like to share with our readers?
You can connect with me on all social media platforms at three rivers trucking school and Michelle Deadwiler on all social media platforms. I have a vision board conference coming up in January. I will post all the details soon. And I will be doing a lot with my youth group, and I will be around. I am staying busy.