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How These Empty-Nesters Found Freedom on the Open Road

It turns out, women in the trucking world don’t always go it alone. Take it from Melissa Derma, one half of a husband-wife full-time transport team, based in Port Angeles, Wash, perched on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle.

It all started in 2010. When Melissa’s husband Dustin lost his father, who lived in Manteca in the Central Valley of California. As the pair found themselves driving up and down I-5 (the north-south corridor that runs from Mexico to Canada) as they collected his things, they realized carrying loads for other folks could be a smart way to recoup the costs of their travels.

During those days, Melissa ran a full-time daycare business, caring for 12 children. Dustin was a general contractor. Eventually, their transport business took off so much that Melissa was able to leave her daycare job, and hit the road with Dustin.

Melissa and Dustin Derma have booked over 700 shipments on uShip since 2011.

The duo has their system down pat: Melissa focuses on handling quotes, bookings, communications and paperwork, while Dustin is typically in charge of driving and loading, with help as needed from his wife. They’ve worked with uShip for seven years, and find 90 percent of their business on the site. The business is focused primarily on motorcycles and smaller household items, such as a few pieces of furniture. In addition, they sometimes carry items for uShip In-Home Delivery partners Chairish and SixPenny.

Melissa and Dustin started off with a 14-foot trailer, but have since upgraded to a 20-foot trailer. The pair spend their days split 50/50 between their transport business and Dustin’s contracting work. They credit uShip with elevating their business.

Shipments around here come in all varieties

For Melissa and Dustin, being on the road together means one thing above all else: teamwork. Having been married 25 years, living as empty nesters, they say they’ve always run businesses together. At first, Melissa remembers, she was a little uncomfortable dipping her toes into the transport industry. In the seven years since, however, she’s grown confident in her contributions to her craft.

Melissa prides herself on customer communications, knowing it can make all the difference in a successful delivery. Her most memorable dropoff? A victim of a California wildfire who cried upon receiving a new sofa after having lost everything in the blaze. For Melissa, Dustin, and all of us in the logistics and transport industry, experiences like this are what it’s all about.

Watch Melissa’s story here:

Read about four other outstanding women of trucking here.