We’re still recovering from the Great American Trucking Show! Did you have the chance to experience GATS? If not, we’ve got the whole show recapped with the help of correspondent Lenay. Troy breaks down the various attendees and vendors at one of the biggest trucking conferences in the nation!
BigRigBanter Ep. 19 – Full Transcript
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Troy: Alright, hello and welcome, truckers. It’s your host Troy Diffenderfer here. This is BigRigBanter and you’re listening to Episode 19, and it’s a special one, folks. We’re talking about GATS, that is the Great American Trucking Show. You might have heard our recap last year, and we’re back at it again. we spoke to various vendors, attendees, and it was a special time there this past August. If you were unable to make it, luckily for you we’ve got you covered. Our correspondent Lenay Ruhl is here to talk about her experience down at GATS. Lenay, how are you today?
Lenay: Hey Troy! I’m doing good, excited to be on BigRigBanter for the first time.
Troy: Awesome! I know it was your first time at GATS, the Great American Trucking Show, so what was your whole experience like?
Lenay: It was just, honestly, really humbling to talk to all the different truck drivers there and a group of people that are just so proud of what they do every day. It was kind of like, coming to a family reunion. Everyone was really happy to see each other, and you could just tell that there was a closeness that tied them all together.
Troy: And I know you had the chance to interview various vendors there, some of these people we’ve had on the show before. Who can our listeners expect to hear later in the show?
Lenay: Yeah! So, Truckers Against Trafficking has been on our show many times, they actually had this trailer at GATS which, honestly, kind of reminded me of the Holocaust Museum except it was all geared toward trafficking survivors, and you could walk through it. It would show maybe the clothing they wore and tell different experiences, so that was really cool. We got to chat with them. You’ll hear from MiaSole, they’re doing solar on trucks, so that’s something unique. There were all these old trucks sitting around, and I got to talk to the American Truck Historical Society and they got to share where those old trucks came from and a little bit about their mission, so it was pretty exciting.
Troy: Awesome! And I know we’re gonna get to it later, but we do have a special giveaway that you were actively working on, can you tell us more about that?
Lenay: Yeah, so at our booth, we were trying to get people to sign up to win a $200 Amazon gift card. We got lots of people that signed up in a fishbowl, so we just picked a name out of a hat, and that lucky winner will be announced later on this show.
Troy: Yeah, that’s right folks! You could win $200 if you were at GATS and entered our contest. We’ll be announcing that name shortly, so make sure you stick around. Lenay, thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to having you on the show more.
Lenay: Yeah! I’m excited, and I hope you guys all enjoy the interviews.
Troy: Alright, well thank you. That was Lenay Ruhl, our correspondent. But, I think it’s time we jump right into some interviews. We’re talking with Truckers Against Trafficking, they’ve been on the podcast before and they’re some of our more popular episodes. We appreciate everything that Kyla and everyone over at Truckers Against Trafficking does. Again, Lenay had the chance to chat with TAT while they were at GATS. Again, you might have to adjust your volume. We were in a busy area over at GATS, so the volume might be a little low, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on that. And, right after this interview, we’ll announce the lucky winner of our $200 gift card, so make sure you stay tuned for that.
Lenay: This is Lenay Ruhl and I’m here today with Helen Van Dam with Truckers Against Trafficking. We’re here at GATS. How are you today, Helen?
Helen: I’m doing great, first day, I’m feeling fresh.
Lenay: Alright, and how many years have you come to GATS?
Helen: Gosh, Truckers Against Trafficking, we’ve been coming for five years, and I’ve been coming for five years. Yes, all of those years. (laughs)
Lenay: Awesome, so you’re committed. And what is your favorite part about GATS when you get here?
Helen: So, I love, no matter how many years I have worked in trafficking and how familiar I am with it, every year I am seeing people and talking to people who never heard of trafficking before. I love getting to share with people who have never heard of trafficking about it, because within the trucking industry, there’s no such thing as the bystander effect. Like, if they hear about it they’re going to do something about it. So, that’s my favorite thing. And when coming to GATS, you are just immersed in the trucking industry. I came from more of the non-profit end of things, more trafficking end, and then learned about Truckers Against Trafficking and loved what they did and loved learning about the trucking industry. GATS is one of the first experiences I had really in the trucking industry, and you just jump right into the deep end when you come. Everything trucking, you know, from the oils you use to clean your tires to buying a full truck to the radio shows – everything trucking. I had no idea, so it was a really fun learning experience for sure.
Lenay: Awesome, and can you tell us what Truckers Against Trafficking does and what you do specifically down here at GATS?
Helen: Yeah so Truckers Against Trafficking, we exist to educate, equip, empower, and mobilize members of the trucking and bussing industry about domestic sex trafficking as a part of their every day jobs. So, we’re working with these companies of any aspect of the trucking industry to be able to train drivers how to recognize and report trafficking while they’re out and about as their every day jobs. Here we are then connecting with those people in the industry, whether that’s drivers or fleet owners, safety managers, insurance… anyone in the industry, so that they can then be trained on how to recognize and report it. And especially here at GATS, we actually have our Freedom Drivers Project. We have a mobile exhibit, a 48 foot van trailer, that we’ve renovated to be a mobile exhibit telling the stories of survivors of sex trafficking; really giving a better picture of what does this really look like today, how is this evening happening in America? So, we really give that background story. People walk through the stories of survivors and then they walk through the stories of those advocates. So, what are they doing that’s making a difference? What are drivers doing; companies doing; and then just general members of the community – what are they doing that’s making a difference? We have this exhibit here, really, to give people the chance to not only get the information but be inspired to take action and get those tools to take action as soon as they leave.
Lenay: So Helen, I understand that you guys launched a new program this year. Can you tell me a little bit about the Man to Man Program?
Helen: Yeah! The Man to Man Campaign launched in February of this year, and it’s our anti-demand campaign. If there was no one buying commercial sex, there would be no one selling it, and there would be no sex trafficking victims, and that’s really the main message of this. So, we’ve partnered with truckers across America who are now saying, “I’m not interested in buying commercial sex because this is somebody’s daughter. I’m not interested in buying commercial sex because I am trained to protect, not to harm.” These are men who are standing up and saying, “if we didn’t – if nobody purchased sex, then this wouldn’t be happening in the first place and so, if we want to stop someone from even needing to be recovered, we’re gonna stop someone from ever being purchased in the first place.” So, this has been a powerful campaign, we have a whole new webpage dedicated to educating people about that side of the issue, about why not to purchase, and telling the stories of the men who are standing up saying “this is why I choose not to.” So, it’s a powerful part of our website and part of our efforts. Man to Man Campaign, you can find it on our website under the “demand” tab.
Lenay: Is there anything else you’d like to mention about Truckers Against Trafficking?
Helen: So, we have free materials, so anybody who’s listening who drives a truck, knows anybody who drives a truck, owns a fleet, we would love to be able to get materials out there. The best way to do that is to go onto our contact form on our website, and our website is www.truckersagainsttrafficking.org.
Lenay: Alright awesome Helen. Thank you for sharing with me today and enjoy your time at GATS.
Helen: Thanks so much! You too!
Troy: And again, a big thanks to Lenay and Helen. We love working with Truckers Against Trafficking, and we’re always happy to promote anything they have going on. Make sure to check out their website as well as their social media so you can stay up to date with all of their campaigns. But folks, I think it’s time to announce our lucky winner of our $200 Amazon gift card, so make sure you listen up! Our lucky winner is Kevin Stanley. That’s Stanley, S-T-A-N-L-E-Y. Kevin Stanley, you are the lucky winner of our Amazon $200 gift card. Make sure to contact us via Facebook or Twitter, or shoot us an email. But again, Kevin Stanley, you are the winner. But let’s jump right back into some more interviews. Lenay had the chance to talk to a very interesting vendor there who was an attendee for multiple years and finally became a vendor, so let’s hear Lenay talk with Jessica from Savage Safe-Tees.
Lenay: Hi this is Lenay, and I’m here at GATS with Jessica Rose. Jessica, how are you today?
Jessica: Doing good, thank you.
Lenay: And what are you doing here at GATS?
Jessica: Ok well I customize safety vests, so I do have a booth here.
Lenay: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Jessica: Ok well I’m a driver myself, a class A driver. I’ve been driving for eight years. We all have to have a safety vest in the truck; sometimes when we get out of the truck to certain warehouses we’re required to wear them. We don’t normally like wearing them because they’re pretty ugly, so I do have some with designs on them and I can also customize with anybody’s picture, logo, lettering, that they want.
Lenay: And how did you come up with the idea to customize your safety vest?
Jessica: I didn’t like wearing my safety vest!
Lenay: Awesome, and how long have you been doing this?
Jessica: For about a year now, for about a year.
Lenay: Ok cool, and is this your first time at GATS or have you been here before?
Jessica: Oh no, I go to all big truck shows, but this is my actual first booth with Savage. Normally when I go to a truck show I go for fun, but this time it’s like fun and money. (laughs)
Lenay: Awesome, and what’s your favorite part of GATS so far?
Jessica: Just interacting with other truck drivers, because I’m a local truck driver in Southern California, so I have a lot of friends around the country and we kinda get to meet up at truck shows and hang out and have fun. We work a lot.
Lenay: Awesome, well I look forward to hanging out with you this weekend at GATS
Jessica: Thank you, ladies.
Troy: And again, a big thanks to Jessica Rose as well as our correspondent Lenay Ruhl. We wish Jessica the best in her business. I think it’s great to see businesses like these showing up at GATS to really get in front of as many eyes as possible for truckers. You can check out the Savage Safe Tee website in the show notes. It’s definitely worth checking out if you want to stylize your safety vest. And let’s keep these interviews going! You know, down at GATS Lenay said she met a variety of different characters and very interesting people, and I think this next interview fits into that category. Lenay met with the creator of Mother Trucker Yoga, and just by judging the picture we posted on social media, I think you can tell they had a pretty good time talking together, so let’s check out that interview.
Lenay: Hi this is Lenay Ruhl, and I’m here at GATS with Hope Zvara. She recently opened her own yoga company called Mother Trucker Yoga. Hope, how are you today?
Hope: I am fabulous, loving it here at GATS.
Lenay: And how many years have you been coming to GATS?
Hope: This is actually our first year.
Lenay: First year at GATS… so how did you come up with a business plan that incorporated truckers?
Hope: Great question. So, I’d been in the yoga industry for about 20 years. I actually have my own physical studio and an online studio as well. I met my business partner back in November of ‘17 at a local business mixer in Wisconsin, and I mean rural Wisconsin, like farm country USA. We just got to talking randomly and joking. I go into corporate to work with corporations and bring them yoga, and I was joking, I said, ‘hey we should bring yoga to the trucking companies, and he said, ‘well do you have any yoga for truckers in the cab of their truck, because that’s who really needs it,’ and I was like, ‘mother trucker yoga.’ We shook on it. The next day he called me, and the rest is history.
Lenay: That is an awesome story. So, how long ago did you launch the business then?
Hope: So, we launched at MATS back in March, so about six months ago. We have been utilizing these last six months to basically start getting drivers signed up. We’re working with companies, so we actually have two different ways people can work with us. Individual drivers come to us and sign up for our platform or we have companies that come to us of all sizes and they can sign up their drivers through the company.
Lenay: Alright cool, and tell us a little bit about how the platform or your plans work. What are their yoga options?
Hope: Absolutely, so we either do a monthly subscription or, with mainly corporate, it is a year subscription, but they have easy three to five minute videos accessible to them… guided meditations. We have tracks that they can listen to audio that they can actually do while they’re driving, and then it’s new content every single month. So, we continue to drip them new content so it’s not like a log in once, well I did everything now, this is not anything I can do I remember it. We’re constantly dripping new content. But what makes us really unique is that every single month the drivers get to log in with me and have an accountability coaching call. So, whether they want to do it as a video or audio – ask me anything – what’s going on, what problems are you having, are you doing this? Because I have found that accountability is key with any new change, because if you’ve never done yoga before, if you’ve never done anything fitness health related, it can be scary and intimidating. You’re not sure if you’re doing things right and you want to actually talk to a real-life person and get feedback.
Lenay: I hope you have a great time at GATS and thank you for taking time to chat with us today!
Troy: Ladies and gentlemen, that was Hope from Mother Trucker Yoga. I love the name, I love the story behind it, I love the person that’s bringing yoga into your trucks. Truckers, make sure to keep an eye out for this. We’re gonna have her website in the show notes, as well as a link to our podcast episode talking all about mental and physical health. I hope that will help all you truckers out there. I think Troy Thunder would approve. You might have heard him on the podcast before, but I think Mother Trucker Yoga is something he can get down with. But, let’s get to our last interview. We spoke to a very excited Peter Park, it’s always been his dream to be on a podcast and, Peter, we’re glad that we can make that dream come true. Peter works for MiaSole, which is a flexible solar panel company, and Peter’s looking to bring solar power into every since cab across the U.S. So, let’s give that a listen.
Peter: Well MiaSole, we’re a flexible solar panel company that is getting into the trucking market and we’re seeing an enormous business opportunity for products that can be flexible and light weight that can be directly installed onto truck cab rooftops or trailers for a number of applications. So, that’s what brings us here today.
Lenay: How did you come up with the idea to do solar on trucks?
Peter: That came about from seeing other companies do them already. We’ve noticed that more and more truck fleet companies that own trucks also were emailing or contacting us asking if we do truck applications so that got us thinking, well other people are doing it, we’re getting more customers asking for it, made a lot of sense for us to look into this market and we realize it’s a big market.
Lenay: And what’s some of the feedback you’re getting, you know, at GATS, as you’re talking to truck drivers and other people in the industry?
Peter: Well, if I had a penny every time someone said, “I love solar,” I’d be a rich man. I mean these guys, that’s the first thing they say… I love solar, I love it and, you know, I don’t know if I need it today but I love solar, so that’s kind of what we get a lot. We expect at least some time to educate the customer on solar. A lot of them think of solar as still something you put on homes and buildings. To put it on trucks, it’s still a little new to a lot of people. But a lot of the feedback we get is they love the technology.
Lenay: Alright and so for those who couldn’t be at GATS and connect with you, what’s the best way to get in touch with you guys after this?
Peter: Oh man, well, I mean the best way to get in touch with us is you can contact me directly. First initial, last name at miasole.com. PPark@miasole.com is a great way to reach out to me. I work as a product manager for MiaSole, and I can at least get the conversation started for whatever you need, whether it’s panels or product questions, that’s not a problem. But even our website – not only does it have all the documents and videos and shows you all the photographs of stuff that we’ve done in the past, there’s a contact form that you can fill out.
Lenay: Alright well thank you for taking time to chat with me today. Have a good time at GATS.
Peter: Thanks for having me!
Troy: You know, it’s great to see all these vendors out there, especially those focused toward the future. A company like MiaSole is looking at solar power, looking to be environmentally-friendly, and I think that’s what a lot of truckers at GATS are looking for – they’re looking for these futuristic trucks or to see what’s on the horizon. I think that’s the exciting part of going to the Great American Trucking Show. I know Lenay was telling me there were all kinds of trucks out there and all kinds of technology, vendors out there, and I think that’s one of the biggest and most exciting parts of GATS. But, let’s not forget about the history of trucking. Luckily, we spoke with Laurence Gration, who you might have seen if you were at GATS. The various older trucks that were scattered throughout the area, but Laurence is actually a member of the American Truck Historical Society, and Lenay had the chance to sit down and talk about the importance of relaying this history of trucks and why it’s important to show people how trucking has evolved over the years, so let’s give that a listen.
Lenay: Is this your first time at GATS?
Laurence: This is my first time so I’m excited too. This is a really good show.
Lenay: What do you think of it so far, what’s your favorite part?
Laurence: I’m here for the old trucks. They’re really what turns me on.
Lenay: Yeah, and I see you guys have a lot of trucks placed throughout the show. How many do you have here today?
Lenay: Wow, what’s your favorite one? Do you have a favorite?
Laurence: There’s a GMC… ’64 GMC 900 or 7000 I should say, just on the other side there. It’s unrestored so it’s looking like it’s been around a few miles.
Lenay: Very cool, and what is your role with the American Truck Historical Society?
Laurence: I am the executive director, so I run the office and make sure the services that the members expect are done properly.
Lenay: Very cool, and what is the goal of the society, what’s your mission?
Laurence: It is for the preservation of the trucking industry. So, the preservation of the trucks themselves is the secondary part. In Kansas City, we have what is now the world’s largest truck library. So, we have the build materials for Mac’s and Kenworth’s and photos from all around the world. It’s just an exciting place to be.
Lenay: Yeah and I understand that you have some old fire trucks here this year for the first time. Can you tell me about that a little bit?
Laurence: Yes, we have two firetrucks here this year. Obviously when we talk trucks we talk any type of truck so we welcome the firetrucks. There’s two here, which we’re pleased with, but in Lexington in our convention back in May we had about 35 fire trucks, some as old as 1911, was the oldest one. So, we welcome them here as part of the trucking industry.
Lenay: And what’s your background? I mean, how did you come to get involved in the trucking industry and with the society?
Laurence: I joined the society as an association professional, so I’ve done this type of work and displays and this sort of thing for associations, other organizations. Towards the end of my career, being able to do it for old trucks is just a bonus.
Troy: And again, I want to give a big thanks to not just Laurence Gration, but Lenay Ruhl as well. My wonderful correspondent, as well as the interview guests, they all worked together to make this a great podcast episode, as well as a great GATS. Whether you’re listening to this to relive GATS or still on the fence about going next year, I do encourage you to check it out. If you want some more information or another recap, feel free to check out our blog which we’ll have in the show notes, as well as a link to the Great American Trucking Show website which also has a recap. Once again, I want to announce our lucky winner of the $200 Amazon gift card. Again, that’s Kevin Stanley. Kevin, please reach out to us on social media or email and claim your prize. Also, Lenay is gonna be joining me on future episodes so you can expect to hear her voice a lot more. She’s gonna be a great addition to the podcast and I’m excited to have her next to me in the cab as we cruise down the road, for sure. Once again, folks, I’m Troy Diffenderfer, and this has been BigRigBanter.
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