In the ever-evolving world of fleet management, women are carving out their place as influential leaders, professionals, and drivers, driving innovation and fostering inclusivity within the industry.
Work Truck spoke to Patricia Shaw-LaPierre, president/owner of CLR Auto Transport & Fleet Logistics, on her experience and perspective on rising to the top in the commercial fleet industry.
Shaw-LaPierre shed light on the challenges she faced, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and her vision for the future of women in the commercial fleet and transportation industry.
Embracing Challenges and Breaking Barriers
As a young girl growing up in Chile, Shaw-LaPierre always dreamt of becoming a truck driver.
When she moved to the United States, her passion for vehicles led her to work as a truck dispatcher for a vehicle transport company.
However, she soon realized that the industry was predominantly male-dominated.
Shaw-LaPierre had to assert herself as a capable dispatcher and overcome challenges in earning respect and navigating office culture.
Over the years, she has witnessed a positive shift, with the transportation industry becoming more accepting of women, especially in leadership roles.
Shaw-LaPierre said, "When you have two capable and proven groups of people in an industry, but there is an inherent bias towards one of those groups, it becomes important for the community to level the playing field by raising those leaders in the disadvantaged group."
It wasn’t until she launched CLR Auto Transport that her career in fleet took off.
Merging Strengths and Growing from Within
Shaw-LaPierre, along with her late husband Chester, co-founded CLR Auto Transport in 2005, merging her strengths in customer care with the growing team.
CLR Auto Transport & Fleet Logistics is a fleet delivery, vehicle storage, and remarketing recovery service provider.
They deliver more than 10,000 units annually, comprising 35% light-duty, 60% medium-duty, and 5% heavy-duty.
“Our drivers specialize in light to medium-duty or 95% of our total business. When approaching new client prospects, we focus on those companies with fleets that fit our core driver skill level. We prefer to recruit drivers from the rideshare, shuttle, and delivery driving industries. We find that, with non-CDL license deliveries, a driver that has worked in a position with daily driving duties tends to make the safest, best-performing drivers,” Shaw-LaPierre explained.
Navigating Challenges and Embracing Electrification
When it comes to tackling challenges, Shaw-LaPierre created a strategic approach.
One significant challenge she and the company have been facing is rising costs. Her company has adopted a strategic approach to combat these increases, outsourcing work traditionally done in-house.
Collaborating with companies that consolidate expenditures has resulted in reduced labor costs.
“We now work with Bestpass, a national toll consolidation company. We pay one bill for all tolls, no matter where in the country they are. Another challenge has been the rise in catalytic converter thefts across the country. This has caused us to increase security measures and cost across all of our vehicle storage facilities,” Shaw-LaPierre explained.
Like many other fleets, another challenge Shaw-LaPierre and CLR Auto Transport & Fleet Logistics faced was electrification. They used a tested strategic approach also to tackle this challenge.
Shaw-LaPierre 's company took proactive steps three years ago to recognize the growing shift toward EVs in the fleet industry.
When one of their largest clients announced their transition to total electric vehicles, CLR Auto Transport & Fleet Logistics began installing EV charging stations at their vehicle storage terminals.
“We knew this was coming, so we installed EV charging stations at our vehicle storage terminals. I am proud that six of our eight Superhub locations now have multiple charging stations. Our EV storage numbers have increased 300% in 2023, and our early jump on the technology and educating our team on EVs have made a big difference,” stated Shaw-LaPierre.
Promoting Diversity and Inclusion for Success
LaPierre emphasizes the significance of diversity and inclusion in the commercial fleet and transportation sector.
The industry can benefit from fresh ideas and insights by leveling the playing field and elevating leaders from disadvantaged groups.
As a woman business leader and an immigrant, Shaw-LaPierre underscores the importance of open opportunities that allow companies like hers to prove their capabilities and outperform competitors.
Looking ahead, Shaw-LaPierre envisions a future with more women running large transportation companies and taking on driver roles. She believes that women in dispatch roles have a unique advantage, as their experience and exposure to the industry from a dispatcher's chair can be invaluable in leadership positions.
Shaw-LaPierre also advocates for increased representation of immigrants in transportation leadership roles, not solely driving roles.
Shaw-LaPierre's journey in the commercial fleet and transportation industry is a testament to resilience, determination, and the power of diversity.
As she continues to drive her company's success, Shaw-LaPierre's commitment to inclusivity and innovation paves the way for a future where women and immigrants thrive in leadership roles.
By embracing challenges and promoting diversity, the fleet industry can foster a stronger, more vibrant community that embraces progress and excellence.
Do you have a story similar to Patricia Shaw-LaPierre? We'd love to hear from you. Share your story at firstname.lastname@example.org.