Submitted by Marathon Petroleum Corp.
In 2007, Shelly Kirk was a single mother struggling to make ends meet. She was making minimum wage at a convenience store trying to support her three children. She tried working at fast food restaurants, and then she was a medical assistant. But those jobs weren’t cutting it.
Her ex-husband was a truck driver. Her brother and uncles drove trucks for a living and made good money doing it. But she had doubts that she could handle a career in truck driving.
“I’d ask myself ‘Can I do this being a woman?’” said Kirk. “I asked my brother Greg for advice, and he told me I absolutely can do whatever I want.”
In 2010, Kirk earned her Commercial Driver’s License (CDL). She started hauling water, then dirt, but she realized that those jobs tended to be seasonal, and she wanted more consistency in her schedule and pay. She asked her brother about his job transporting crude oil to see if it would be a good fit for her.
“The benefit of being a truck driver – you’ll never be out of a job,” said Greg Wilson, a transport driver and trainer for Marathon Petroleum. “You can go anywhere and be a truck driver – no matter what part of the country you decide to live. The benefits of working for a company like Marathon is that when I turn 62 – I have a pension. For me, that’s the biggest thing about working for a big company like this.”
That was enough to convince Kirk to apply for a truck driving job hauling crude oil. With her CDL and driving experience, she landed the job with the same fleet in Roosevelt, Utah, where her brother worked. As her trainer, Wilson gave her a good review, but as her brother, he couldn’t resist teasing her a little.
“She was a good student,” said Wilson, who helped train Kirk to drive a truck with double trailers. “I didn’t kick her out of the truck, so she must have been all right.”
Kirk said she did have to learn how to do some of the work differently, since she doesn’t have the same upper body strength that her male colleagues do. Her brother was there to show her different ways to do things like chain up the tires.
Kirk has made a successful career out of driving trucks. She’s been with the company for more than seven years, and she hopes that other women will consider truck driving as a career that offers consistency, better pay and great benefits.
“I’m 51. My health is good enough that when I retire, I’ll be able to enjoy that stage of life. I’m fortunate that I have a 401(k) that the company has contributed to and a pension. This career definitely changed my outlook on what the future holds.”
Now that her children are grown, she’s proud of what she’s accomplished in the field and so is her family.
“The grandboys think it’s awesome that grandma drives a big truck,” said Kirk. “My oldest son drives a truck now. My daughter drives the pilot truck for oversize loads. That was partially because I drive a truck. I guess it’s in our blood.”
Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPC) is a leading, integrated, downstream energy company headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. The company operates the nation's largest refining system. MPC's marketing system includes branded locations across the United States, including Marathon brand retail outlets. MPC also owns the general partner and majority limited partner interest in MPLX LP, a midstream company that owns and operates gathering, processing, and fractionation assets, as well as crude oil and light product transportation and logistics infrastructure. More information is available at www.marathonpetroleum.com.
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