Jackie & Mike...RISING STARS
Posted on Monday, January 28, 2019
This Legend article features two perspective owner operators that run long-haul as a team for a small fleet. Jacqueline Rocha and Michael Barclay moved from south Florida together, to Georgia as a young couple eager to start their future together. The idea of the pair traveling the country running team provided the spontaneity appeal that first drew them in, however jumping into the trucking industry does not evolve as quick as many would think. Neither had any family in the business to reach out to for guidance. Instead, they made a beeline directly to the source.
Jackie began visiting nearby truck stops and speaking with drivers; inquiring about their opinions, listening with intent; asking for advice and absorbing their encouragement. Her admiration for men and women truck drivers grew even stronger. Along with the information attained through many conversations, she and Mike
added endless amounts of research. Jackie explains that for them, networking was the key. It was all about meeting people that were presently living and working in the current conditions that they were curious about, then understanding what the trucking industry had to offer, and deciding which niche they wanted to pursue.
Jackie says, “We both came into this career with a lot of passion, and we’re only getting started! In the beginning, there was nothing that was going to hold us back. We collected
a lot of input from different areas, online, several people, and what we learned was; we basically needed to find out what would work best for us... What exactly did we want to do as truck drivers? And how far did we want to take this?”
They narrowed their options down to a trucking company that was pet friendly and team-driven. Meaning, if you join as a team; you train as a team and remain a team. That was extremely important, considering their future goals as a team. They were placed with a trainer that Jackie describes as incredible, a game-changer, and now a close friend. She states, his emphasis on patience was priceless. Mike and Jackie stayed on another year and a half, crediting their clean records and efficiency in performance to their trainer’s proper instructions. From his counsel to caution, the two carries with them the level of skill that will affect the course of their careers decades down the line.
During our interview, Jackie offers her view on breaking through the persona that young millennials face when joining the workforce. She
speaks about overcoming adversity and how the camaraderie among truck drivers continues to encourage her more each day. She and Mike share their insight on what to expect as first-time business owners and how running as a team works for them.
On a recent podcast, Jackie discussed how veteran truckers impact her career by inspiring her to follow their lead. The respect she has gained as an advocate for female drivers, she returns to those she greatly admires: other truck drivers. On the first of February, she was named the 2016 winner of the Road Warrior campaign, awarding her $10,000 for first place. Being the only woman to have received the honor, Jackie announced her plans to donate portions of her prize money back to the trucking community. She selected the St. Christopher Truckers Fund and Women In Trucking (WIT), as both organizations represent a common goal of understanding the importance of having the support needed to succeed as a truck driver. She appreciates the direction in which the two strive to help, honor, and promote a positive image within the industry she calls family.
It doesn’t end there. Jackie had her greatest moment of notoriety when she announced their plan to start a nonprofit organization, directed toward the development of women who wish to pursue a career in the trucking industry. By providing younger drivers, such as themselves, a platform where new recruits can acquire the information, training, and support vital to establishing their true potential as a pro driver in the field of transportation.
Mike and Jackie’s journey thus far has empowered them to speak out in support of veteran truckers on behalf of the current generation millennials, striving to motivate future drivers to learn from the knowledge and leadership of experienced drivers, while also proving to those in doubt that it is possible to succeed as a young couple running team. In a profession that demands extended study and practice, no matter the amount of years already served, truck drivers with 30, 40, and even 50 years of experience all agree on two things: every driver must start somewhere, and adjust to the transitions due to the constant changes within the industry; and a driver will never stop learning. Every successful individual will need to improve in order to advance. The sooner one opens their mind to the idea of growth, the only direction to go is up.
Mike’s support in Jackie as a female in a male dominated profession is unlike any other. When the two attend truck events geared toward women in trucking, it motivates Mike just as much to consciously want a change in the industry. “People see us and instantly judge us by our age, but then they get to know us and can literally feel our passion for what we do. Our biggest goal is to make a difference in this industry and help get more young drivers on-board. We want to show them the way, and make sure they’re receiving the correct teaching like we did, and are welcomed with open arms like we were. All of that made a huge difference for us and where we are right now in our careers. Most importantly, we want to show that we care! We want our actions to be a reflection of the life we live. That we too, are two people that started from the ground up. We were surrounded with great people, all pushing us to do well, and we just want to give that back,” Jackie said.
She encourages females to embrace their confidence as truck drivers, by believing in their own ability. She also wants them to know that they are accepted in the trucking
community and across the entire country, simply for their hard work and dedication. Speaking from experience, it was a pleasant surprise to them early on, so expressing that relief may reassure another woman that she too can pursue her calling as a professional truck driver. Jackie’s strength and determination is undeniably inspired by her long-term mentor. Stating, “I grew up knowing courage. My mother taught me everything. I give all credit for my strength to her. She is the reason I am the way I am and why I give everything that I have to whatever it is that I set my goal to achieving. I wouldn’t be where I am today without her.”
Mike and Jackie are currently in the process of venturing off and purchasing a truck to start their own business. Contracted through FedEx Custom Critical, their intentions were to get a feel of the ‘owner part’ aspect. “We wanted to see more of the background work that the majority of companies do for you. So, we came in as independent contractors without taking on the debt, but still allowing us to see what it will be like without buying a truck. Now we run over the road for a small fleet owner,” Jackie said. “There is no minimum guarantee. If we don’t run all week, we don’t make any money and that’s the reality of an owner operator. We wanted to see if we had the discipline and what we needed to learn more about taking the next step towards our goal.”
Trucking cross-country in a 2015 Freightliner Cascadia with a 96” sleeper, Mike and Jackie typically stay out three weeks, then home for one. Having a co-pilot comes with its advantages. Any working relationship requires a willingness to endure, some a bit more than others, but spending all 24 hours of the day with your spouse can be a challenge in itself. Tack on the stress of time management with unexpected truck maintenance, chaotic traffic, and so on; a regular work day in the life of a couple running team can really expose the ones that are not cut out for the industry by showcasing if they have what it takes. The approach Jackie and Mike use to help from adding any extra worry to the inevitable workload is by taking everything one day at a time.
“We believe that you get what you give and at the end of the day, everything will be okay. That’s another thing about this industry that we learned early on, there is a lot of things you
cannot control. You have to accept that you can’t control it all. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The things you can control, like your sanity, hold onto that! Especially if your other half is your driving partner. This job is the best way to test the strength of your relationship. If you can make it living in a truck, side by side every day with only a curtain to separate the two of you after a heated argument, then you’re doing okay. The thing with us is that we both came out here with the same level of knowledge, so we are learning together. We both have the same goal and know that we’re in it for the end game. So, we try to focus on that. The truck never has to stop, we can keep business moving. I can sleep on the road knowing Mike is the one driving, keeping us safe. We know that two heads are better than one, that’s why running team works for us.”
Even though the duo shares many common interests, their personalities are complete opposite. Mike’s temperament is calm and collective, and Jackie is full of high energy. While both are from the state of Florida, Jackie preferred the beach as her retreat, whereas Mike’s background is Mixed Martial Arts. Having trained for six years, with a black belt in Hapkido, Mike also taught students MMA and ran his own lawn service. Jackie, like her father; a professional investigator, she followed suite and by the age of 18 she was a licensed private investigator, as well. Mike’s entrepreneurship and desire to succeed was passed-on from his mother, who owns a catering company. His love of people, compassion, and patience comes from his father. Each of them have families that left an imprint on their work ethic moving forward into adulthood. Now 23 years old, though still considered young, but with full advantage, they intend to continue rising above what’s expected.
As first-time buyers, the whole process to purchase a truck turned out to be more tedious than expected. Getting familiar with the series of steps, they plan on committing to the procedures and growing a small fleet of their own. Jackie says, “Buying our first truck is huge for us! Then we found out the chances of us getting financed to start our first business was slim to none, but the people we’ve talked to see our perseverance and believe in us. That fuels our determination! We’ve learned so much during this time… have your finances in order and be prepared to run hard. We’re checking everything off as we go, because we are going to keep adding trucks. Each year we’re going to steadily build our business.”
By combining Jackie’s enthusiasm to motivate and inspire with Mike’s ambition, they have found their niche within the trucking industry. Their position as truck drivers grant them the responsibility in providing the public with essential goods. Everything from food and produce, to life saving equipment and medicine. The sacrifices they make as truckers are made on their own accord, simply for the public service to their country.
With their plan in motion aimed high, when asked of their proudest moment to-date Jackie’s response mirrored a driver I interviewed that had 37 years and 4 million lifetime miles under his belt. She said, “Definitely when we help other drivers. We’ve pulled over to help drivers on the side of the road, we’ve stopped to help drivers at truck stops, anytime the opportunity is in front of us we make time to help. That’s what you should do if you want to make a difference. There’s a huge significance in paying it forward. We, as drivers are like a large family out here and we have to take care of each other.” Her honesty and that of the prior Legend driver before her is evidence that this couple is on the right path.
Traveling with them on the road are their three Jack Russell Terriers: Angel, Lady, and Cutie, along with
their latest addition whom they rescued, Rocky; their Green Cheek Conure parrot. As they continue blazing trails in the trucking industry, keep an eye on these two… I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more great things from them in the future.