Passion and work ethic can drive you to become a leader in your field. Good leaders are hard to find. In this evolving world, more and more women are climbing their way to the top of the ladder and taking on leadership roles. Women leaders have created history. Breaking the stereotypes, discovering new career paths, and setting new benchmarks, women leaders have become unconventional and inspiring. Women in upper management and leadership roles develop their stories and build empires that are setting the path for the future.
Today, one such courageous and compelling woman leader, Dana Achartz is the Director of Safety & Compliance of Commercial Transport, Inc.
Dana Achartz started her career in trucking safety almost two decades ago. An out-of-the-box career option for women, she started auditing driver’s logs and monitoring hours of service. She quickly discovered her passion for safety and the desire to help truck drivers be safe on the roadways.
Her determination for her career didn’t let her sit ideal at all. She loves working in the trucking industry and made herself available 24/7/365. As time proceeded, she quickly become eager to learn more and be able to do more for her team.
Dana Achartz believes, the littlest things are appreciated, and if she can help make someone’s life easier and help everyone be safer on the road, that brings her happiness. She is always willing to help.
Dana Achartz went on to obtain her CDS (Certified Director of Safety Certificate from NATMI-North American Transportation Management Institute.). From day one of her career in trucking, she has always been very driven to learn more and to do more.
The love she has for her work has helped her grow her network and learn from experts and leaders in her field. By hard work, dedication and long hours, she has mastered her skills in problem-solving and public speaking.
Dana Achartz spills the beans of reality with her honest statement, “
We all go through trials and tribulations, good or bad everything has a lesson to be learned. Every moment has a takeaway in it, you just have to figure out what the lesson is in the moment.”
About Commercial Transport
Commercial Transport, Inc. is located in Belleville, IL. The organization is within St. Louis, MO commercial zone and has easy access to Interstates 55, 64, & 70.
Its corporate office is also home to its central maintenance facility, a state-of-the-art food-grade “Kosher Certified” tank wash, and its central dispatch operation. In addition to its Belleville corporate office, the company operates terminals in Cape Girardeau, MO, Indianapolis, IN, Mt. Vernon, IN & Muscatine, IA.
It currently operates approximately 125 tractors and 250 trailers. The largest part of its trailer fleet is food-grade pneumatic trailers that are “Kosher Certified” and dedicated to hauling food-grade dry bulk products. It hauls primarily food-grade flour products. The balance of its trailers is dedicated to the hauling of alcohol and petroleum products. Its food-grade fleet covers 48 states and Canada while its liquid fleet is more regional and specialized.
Helping Your People Do The Right Thing
Dana’s goal has always been to help people. She works with a people-first approach. Her key mantra lies in helping and growing together. She aims to be a resource for all of her team members. As a leader, Dana has new standards of leadership and teamwork by enabling complete transparency between her team and her.
She states, “Whether it’s advice, another prospective, a call for help, or something else, I always encourage them to call me regardless of what time it is or how silly they think the question might be.”
Dana Achartz says “you never know until you ask.” Curiosity and engagement will help one grow and do wonderful things. She is a firm believer that everyone needs to step out of their comfort zones or they’ll never grow.
Dana Achartz is more than willing to help any day any time, no matter what, she truly cares for everyone and wants them to succeed. She rather have them call her for a quick five-minute conversation which brings them clarity opposed to having them not know what to do and violate a regulation or a law because they simply were not sure what the proper step forward would be.
She respects those she works with as they all teach or have taught her another life lesson. Every day, she learns new things and it’s so exciting to see things from a different perspective and another’s point of view. We’re all so different and we see things differently.
Dana Achartz wants to do the right thing. We all should do the right thing. It’s the right thing to do. You should always make the time to do things the right way and you will have no regrets.
Not All Hero’s Wear Capes, Some Drive a Truck
The challenge Dana Achartz faces in her day-to-day operation is she always has a ton of things to do. Most weeks, she has to reprioritize her to-do’s to see what takes priority and what can wait until the next day. Her main focus is and always will be the drivers. They’re the front lines and she will do everything she can to help them with whatever they need to be safe on the road while they’re away from their family.
Everyone in trucking has a job because of the drivers. They’re the reason we all have a career. It’s important that we respect and appreciate them. Like the saying goes, “Not all hero’s wear capes. Some drive a truck.”
The Importance of Teamwork
Dana Achartz reiterates that as a leader, it’s important to empower your team and help everyone succeed in their careers.
A leader needs to do everything in their power to make sure team members have the tools they need to be successful and guide them when they stumble. “Stumble moments” are great because they provide growth. It feels great to conquer a challenge. If a leader empowers their team, they thrive to be better and will be energized to do more.
You have to emphasize the importance of teamwork. No one succeeds alone. Everyone needs help getting there. As a team, we need to work together, share a similar vision, and push everyone to move forward and achieve greatness together. There’s no “I” in team.
Accomplishment is a beautiful thing. There are so many different personalities in the workplace, and each one can contribute uniqueness to whatever problem one is trying to solve as a team. Never take anyone for granted. Each role plays a vital part in your team’s success. Every team member is a valuable resource and contribution to that organization. By bestowing them with a sense of confidence, the leader can assist them in excelling to their maximum potential.
My Team is my Second Family
Dana Achartz treats her work team like a second family. Her compassion towards them is the same as that for her family. She states that we spend so much of our lives at work, and happiness is essential there. It’s a great opportunity to learn from each other, grow together, and help the company as a whole succeed. A team is not merely just a value addition to an organization, it is one of the biggest assets to the organization. And Dana Achartz is well-aware of this, treating her team with utmost respect and appreciation.
Dana Achartz has got three goals that she will start working towards this year. She has got a couple of aspirations for which she is very excited.
1. Dana Achartz has taken on a few more new mentees. She mentors a few young professionals who are either fairly new to their careers in the trucking industry or those who desire guidance to be better in their careers. We talk about work experiences, career development, personal and professional growth, and what are the goals they aim to achieve. She gives them advice and insight on staying on the path to success.
She enjoys this. It reminds her of coaching basketball years ago with the Minneapolis Eagles Special Olympics. At the start of the season you help the athletes build their skills, then by the end of the season, you watch them succeed and apply what they’ve worked so hard for, new skills. It’s so amazing to watch others grow and do wonderful things. Watching them build skills and grow their career path is so rewarding. We need to celebrate every little achievement. Everything has some sort of sacrifice we took to get there. Enjoy those moments. ALWAYS!
2. Dana Achartz is going to take online classes and work towards getting her ARM-Associates in Risk Management degree. This will help her view her role as a leader in safety in a different light. She thinks it’ll bring a fresh new perspective for her. Another opportunity to grow, learn more and be a better resource for others.
3. Dana Achartz plans on writing a leadership book about Safety. After all, safety is her superpower. She has so much knowledge and experience, and she would love to help others better their careers and learn from her disappointments. In her spare time, she reads leadership books and she always has many takeaways she can apply to her career.
Encouraging, Supporting, and Representing Women
Outside of her day-to-day job, Dana Achartz is the President and a founding member of the Women’s Coalition of the Illinois Trucking Association, which was formed to bring more women into the industry. The coalition’s main purpose is to serve as a resource for women and motor carriers in Illinois. As an industry leader, she is an ideal example of an inspirational leader to watch for.
“When I was growing up, you didn’t see women around in the industry. Now, women are realizing we can drive the trucks, we can work on the trucks, and can run companies. There is so much opportunity for personal and professional growth in our industry. Trucking is an amazing career; it’s inspirational, I love it.”
When it comes to recruiting more women into trucking, Dana Achartz states to include more women in advertising and have women more active on the marketing side of the business. The industry needs to do a better job at making trucking more appealing towards women.
At the end of the day, safety remains the golden rule in commercial trucking. Dana Achartz sees technology playing a vital and large role in preventing fatalities on the roadway than it does today. She also emphasized the importance of driver training and safety awareness.
“Training is different for every single individual, and the newer generations coming in will need a lot more one-on-one attention than maybe seasoned drivers will need,” she said.
During Women’s History Month, Dana Achartz shared a remarkable piece of advice on more women joining the trucking industry.
“We’re out there, we want them to know that you can do this. You can drive the truck, you can be a mechanic, you can do all of this, Said Dana with the coalition.
Passion for Trucking Comes from the Heart
Dana’s passion for trucking comes from the heart. Throughout her long-standing career in the trucking industry, she has seen the golden days and now the modern days, and experiencing this transformation has been a pleasure. She has not only created a career that she was passionate about but also embarked on a journey to lead and serve a bigger purpose.
“I was lucky enough to get a little taste of the old ways of trucking and then lucky enough to be part of the big transition of ELDs over ten years ago as they were first making their appearance in the industry. What an amazing change it’s been over the years.”
In her career, she has helped companies build safety departments, design and orchestrate driver new hire orientation, as well as perform all safety training and technology transformations including training for ELDs.
“Throughout all of my safety knowledge, driver training and bringing awareness to the public and frequent safety training with drivers, I truly believe throughout my career of almost 20 years, somewhere out there, at some point, at least one life has been saved. That one life is worth everything I do,” she said.