Jamie Trent, fleet sales manager with Knapheide, isn’t your typical salesperson – he’s also a professional musician. Here, he talks about his music, the incredible support he gets from Knapheide, a nonprofit he supports, and how music and trucking connect.
Starting in Fleet and Music
Going on 15 years in October 2021, Trent started out as a regional sales manager for Knapheide and covers the Northeast (from Maine to Virginia). About halfway through his career with the company, he switched over to the fleet side and now handles the rental, delivery, and oil and gas segment.
“It's been great just seeing all the different ways you go to market and the different customer bases you call on,” he said.
When asked about what got him started as a musician, he said he’s been around music his whole life; his uncle was in a semiprofessional band, and his father sang in church. Trent performed at private parties and weddings.
“If you know that movie, The Wedding Singer, I guess I was a southern wedding singer and it helped me pay my way through college. It stuck with me ever since,” he said.
Achieving Work-Life Balance
Trent said he can’t even quantify how supportive Knapheide has been of his side gig. Pre-pandemic he would go into the factory along with his coworkers about six or eight times a year for training. When Mr. Knapheide (who unfortunately passed in 2018) would see Trent, he’d always ask what songs he’d written lately.
“I actually wrote a song about his passing and performed it at our NTEA event a few years ago. They've always sort of reeled me in to sing different songs. They're very pro- having a life outside of work. They believe you're the best version of yourself when you have that, and that’s a testament to how supportive they've been,” he explained.
When it comes to writing music, you have to follow your heart. Trent was told by a good friend that if you try to write to the radio, it will make you a liar.
“Do what inspires you. For me, that's the beach first and foremost, but not just the beach itself; the people, places, and things there. Every year on my daughter's birthday, I write her a birthday song. It’s just another way to keep the creative juices flowing,” he said.
Trent also works with a nonprofit called Songwriting with Soldiers. The organization pairs active-duty military members who suffer from PTSD and other traumatic brain injuries with professional songwriters. The goal is to write songs about their experiences to help facilitate the healing process.
“For me, there's nothing as powerful and more cathartic. This organization has literally changed people's lives and brought them out of the deepest, darkest depressions and back to the best version of themselves. It's just been life changing for me, and I'm so grateful to be a part of just a little part of what I do with the organization,” he said.
Combining Songwriting and Sales
One of the lessons he’s been able to adapt from songwriting to his other career is the importance of being authentic.
“I can't tell you how many times I've performed, whether it's in a coffee shop or some other environment, where if the audience knows you're not being authentic, they can see it. If you segue that into a conference room where you’re giving a presentation, if the people you're presenting to don't believe in what you're saying, they're going to glaze over really quick,” he said.
Being a performer at heart, it’s helped him gain confidence in his sales pitches.