The trucking industry has always been seen as a man’s world, but Michelle Harris Deadwiler, CEO of 3 Rivers Trucking School, is making a name for herself and her business. She is an example of what can be accomplished when you are determined to make a difference. Being woman-owned and operated sets Michelle’s business apart from many others in this space because there are certain things they can offer that male-owned schools cannot—like attracting more women students who may be intimidated by taking classes at traditionally male-dominated schools. Ultimately, Deadwiler believes this helps create more gender parity within the trucking industry as more females are encouraged to pursue careers behind the wheel.
Her passion for truck driving, combined with her entrepreneurial spirit, has made her an inspiration for others looking to make their mark on this male-dominated field—and we can expect even bigger things from her in the future! With trailblazers like Michelle around us, there’s no limit as far as what we can achieve if we put our minds (and wheels) toward it!
In a brief interview, we were able to gain some insight into her creating her company and the challenges she faces. It will both inspire and encourage you to break out of your comfort zone.
Hi, Michelle. Thank you for speaking with Biz Boost today. Can you share a little about yourself with our readers?
Yes, I can. My name is Michelle Harris Deadwiler. I am the CEO of 3 Rivers Trucking School. Mother of 3 and wife of Arie Deadwiler. I was born in Gary, Indiana, in Miller projects. My childhood prepared me to be the woman I am today. Nothing was ever given to me. This has a lot to do with my success, as I don’t want anything handed to me; I want to work for it. Working for it gives me value.
There are not many women in the transportation industry; how does it feel being a black woman-owned CDL school?
Being a woman in the trucking industry is challenging and can be very emotional but being the CEO of a woman-owned CDL school is almost unheard of. But then, to be a black woman owning a CDL school in Georgia has been a bumpy ride with a twist and turns, but I like the ride, and I would buy a ticket to this ride again. I don’t believe anyone starts their journey saying I’m going to be the first at it, let alone being the first woman to do it. I think we start, and as we work, we find out we are the first, and then we find out we are the first woman. Well, that makes us push harder to complete as we understand that people depend on us to finish.
What made you want to open a CDL school for those wanting to drive trucks?
I saw the need for a CDL school when I saw my son behind those bars at Macon state prison. I firmly believe that if you have a business, it should be the answer to the community’s problem, or else the business should not exist, so I answered a problem we had in our community. Trucking can solve many problems in our community, and I wanted to give people honest answers and hope in real situations.
I’m sure your success has not come easily. What challenges have you had to overcome when it comes to building your business?
First, you are correct that success has not come easy, and if you want it easy, you don’t want to be successful; you might want to be good but not successful because there is no easy road or shortcuts.
My biggest challenge as a business owner that I have faced is the ability to lead without my emotions but with intentions. See, a no in business does not need to be met with all the crying and woe is me, but it needs to be met with an ok, I hear you’re no, now what I do attitude. And then do whatever it takes but don’t quit.
How can people connect with you? And do you have anything upcoming that you would like to share with our readers?
You can connect with me on all social media platforms at three rivers trucking school and Michelle Deadwiler on all social media platforms. I have a vision board conference coming up in January. I will post all the details soon. And I will definitely be doing a lot with my youth group, and I will be around. I am staying busy.