In honor of Transportation Week, Attorney Deedee Gasch sits down with Laurie King to discuss the trucking industry in Part II of her series for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.
1. Please tell us about MCO Transport, Inc. and specifically what you do there.
My grandfather started MCO Transport in 1976 right here in Wilmington as a small log truck operation. Today, we operate in 4 port cities along the Southeast, and primarily handle intermodal drayage, or shipping container work in an out of State Ports. I’m VP and Director of Corporate Relations, so I direct our communications and HR, as well as supporting our recruiting and retention efforts.
2. Tell us about your background and how you landed at MCO Transport.
My first job at 16 years old was at MCO, washing trucks and serving as a shop assistant for the mechanics. I’ve worked in many different parts of the company over the years, but in college and the years after, my focus was in higher education and international studies. It wasn’t until my family had the opportunity to move back to Wilmington in 2013 that I chose to turn my sights back to trucking.
3. Why did you choose the trucking industry?
When I first moved back home, I was initially just going to help out at MCO for a short period of time. But I quickly found that I didn’t want to leave. I’ve been around trucks my whole life. The running joke when I was little was that I’d be a Ballerina-Truck Driving-Nun, a compromise with my dad. Many of the folks I work with have known me since those days, so it just felt like a natural fit, and with so much to learn, the family atmosphere has been very supportive of my professional development.
4. What are the biggest challenges facing the trucking industry?
You see ‘Free Shipping’ everywhere (thank you Amazon Prime), so people don’t want to think about the cost of getting their products delivered, much less pay for it. So it’s an industry with pretty tight margins. Add to that the increased regulation of the trucking industry, the ‘retirement boom’, and the emphasis on 4-year college degrees, and there just aren’t enough truck drivers out there. So everyone scrambling to hire drivers, increase wages, and change their culture to attract new hires.
5. How has technology changed the trucking industry?
It’s much safer than it used to be. The same GPS technology that allows us to track shipments in real time also provides data that can help us pinpoint and analyze risk factors before an incident may occur. Electronic logging also makes it much harder for a driver to ‘tweak’ their hours of service, protecting drivers from working more than what is safely—and legally—allowed.
6. What technological or other advances do you see “on the horizon”?
Just like ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft have completely changed the taxi industry, it’s happening for trucking too. More and more business is happening in the palm of our hands than ever before.
7. Where do you see the trucking industry going?
Everyone is talking about driverless vehicles these days. It may be a while before it is used widely, but it’s coming. I doubt you’ll see them going through cities for a very long time, but it’ll change how our summer highway travel looks.
8. What do you wish more people knew about the trucking industry or truck drivers?
Truck drivers are not the ‘rough and tumble’ cowboys depicted in films like Smokey & the Bandit. The in-cab computer technology, customer service interaction, and technicality of their work requires a great deal of training, and the vast majority are true professionals. They’re the safest drivers on the road. Also, there are way more female drivers than you’d expect!
9. What is your least favorite thing about the trucking business?
My least favorite thing is probably the time I had to clean out the grease pit in our truck wash area, on my very first day of work at MCO. Everyone thought this was my punishment for cutting curfew! It was a disgusting job, and all my clothes had to be thrown in the trash afterwards. But to this day, I still have no problem rolling up my sleeves and getting dirty if need be. I don’t expect anyone in our organization to do something I’m not willing to do—or at least try—myself.
10. What is your favorite thing about the trucking business?
It keeps me on my toes. We have trucks running 24/7/365, so there’s always something going on, and I’m constantly learning. I don’t like to sit still either, so it works well for me in that regard.
Deedee Gasch has over a decade of experience litigating catastrophic claims involving serious injury or death. While Deedee’s practice is primarily focused on the defense of premises liability, trucking and commercial vehicle accidents, and medical malpractice, she also has a wide range of civil litigation experience. She spent approximately half of her career representing injured plaintiffs before returning to her first love of civil litigation defense work. This experience on both sides of a case uniquely situates her in negotiations and at trial if settlement is not possible. Deedee is a third-generation Tar Heel and attorney, following in the footsteps of her grandfather, a North Carolina Resident Superior Court Judge (deceased), and her father, a career trial lawyer. She has dual degrees in Journalism and Political Science and earned her law degree cum laude from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville, Florida, where she attended on a prestigious merit based scholarship. She is licensed to practice law in both North Carolina and Florida.
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