When you think of ready-mix drivers or concrete/construction workers, you likely picture a man. However, women are joining the ranks and proving that being a man is not a prerequisite for working in this field. Although we employ a number of women in office positions, Samantha Stewart is our first and only female ready-mix driver (so far), but she’s eager for more women to join her in the supportive family environment that Shelby Materials provides. Let’s learn more about Samantha’s role as a ready-mix driver and how you can become one too.
Samantha joined the Shelby Materials team as a ready-mix driver in June of 2021. At the time, she didn’t have direct experience in the field of concrete and aggregates, but she had been delivering for Krispy Kreme for a while. “Coworkers of mine got their Class B and told me, ‘You know Sam, you would probably make a good driver, you should get your license,’” said Samantha. The Class B CDL (commercial driver’s license) is required to operate any vehicle over 26,000 pounds, which can include ready-mix trucks, box/deliver trucks, large buses and more. Samantha visited the Beech Grove location to speak with a hiring manager directly about giving her a chance as a female driver and has found that she loves her new career.
A typical day in the field
“There really isn’t a typical day,” said Samantha. “Every day is different, every job is different.” But that is part of what she likes most about working at Shelby. “I enjoy the different people,” she explained. “You’re not sitting in an office, you see new faces and do different things every day, so you learn lots of things. It’s actually a really fun job.”
Samantha also enjoys the physicality of her career as a ready-mix driver. “I feel like a lot of girls don’t like concrete work. They tend to go more towards the dump trucks, which is originally what I was doing to try to do,” she said. “I feel like this is more physical, but it’s probably better for your health. With dump trucks, they pull up, they dump and they leave. I get to see people, talk to people and get some exercise.”
Differences as a female ready-mix driver
When Samantha became a ready-mix driver, the biggest reaction she found from others was one of surprise. “Sometimes when I travel around, people will get out of their trucks to walk over and say, ‘I’ve never seen a girl driver!’” But she has also found that this career is not inherently easier for men. “The only difficult thing I have found is that I’m short,” she explained. “So the chutes are about a foot taller than me and at the beginning that was a struggle. But there’s really nothing that I can’t do and if I can’t do it, then I ask. Someone will say, ‘Hey Sam, next time you should do this,’ so you learn something new every day.”
Samantha also likes setting a good example for other women and girls, especially her daughters at home. “They don’t expect you to want to do this type of work, so if you can do it and do it just as good and get compliments, that’s a win,” she said. “I want to let my girls know even if everyone marks it as a guy’s world, you can do anything you want to do.”
Being a female ready-mix driver at Shelby
When Samantha started working at Shelby, she told everyone, “Don’t treat me like a girl,” she recalled. “In the beginning, there were a couple of men who were hesitant or didn’t know how to approach me. Now we all get along.” She likes doing her job with a smile on her face, and finds that her customers and coworkers like her too. “I pretty much just smile and do what I’m supposed to do and all of them end up liking me.”
Samantha also appreciates the support that Shelby Materials provides all of its drivers. “It’s not the easiest job in the world,” said Samantha. “But I think Shelby being so family-oriented helps. If you have a problem, you can go directly to a face and not have to call a phone number.” Shelby also supports women in the construction industry as a member of the National Association of Women in Construction, and we recently gave local IndyNAWIC chapter members an educational plant tour and talked about our procedures.
Are you interested in becoming a female ready-mix driver at Shelby Materials? Samantha can’t wait to have you join her, “I tell people all the time, ‘We need some more girls!’” We are currently hiring, so we encourage anyone to learn more or apply online today!