Mother & Daughter Tag Team In Trucking
Lisa Fischer considers herself lucky. In the past 25 years, she built a solid reputation and watched her trucking company grow. Best of all, she did it with her daughter and family by her side. “Dreams don’t work unless you do,” she says.
GERMANTOWN, WI – A little more than 25 years ago, Lisa Fischer launched a trucking company, a rare feat for a female in a male-dominated industry. She started with three quad-axle trucks transporting goods for local construction contractors, and soon purchased tractor trailers so workers could haul recyclables and garbage. By 2012, she was one of 1,521 women who owned their own trucking businesses in Wisconsin.
Today, her company, Fischer Truck Service Inc., has a combined fleet of 20 trucks and 43 trailers. They haul an average of 300 tons of residential garbage to landfills per week for the southeast part of the state.
As president, Lisa manages the daily operations, including client relations and contract negotiations. Her daughter, Danyelle, manages the accounting, invoicing and other office administration. She most often interacts with vendors and other partners. Fischer Truck Service has been a PNC client since 2012 and uses a variety of services for business and personal banking.
Lisa’s office window faces a large field of paved dirt with trailers parked on the fringes. Clouds of dust puff in the distance as a semi-truck rumbles past, heading towards a cavernous loading dock piled with mounds of trash.
“One man’s garbage is another man’s gold,” laughs Lisa.
Fischer employs 28 employees. Six are family, including 22-year-old Danyelle, who has worked with her mom since high school.
“I’ve been priming her for years,” says Lisa.
Outside the family office, Danyelle is working on her online degree in business administration and human resources. The duo looks forward to her graduation at the end of 2017 – a welcome milestone for Lisa as she hopes to slowly let her daughter take over managing the company.
All In The Family
Lisa is one of half a million female-owned small business owners in the U.S. Like other industries, the trucking business is a competitive field. It involves strong relationship-building skills, an eye for budgets, a good operative sense for preventative maintenance and cost-control for service repairs on expensive trucks and equipment.
Luckily for Lisa much of that is handled under her own roof. Her husband Norm assists with the service and mechanical needs, while their three sons, Butch, Billy and Jake also help out with repairs and hauling.
Most hauls involve transporting residential garbage and recycled goods, but they also contract for excavation hauling, quad-axles (trailer-hauls), asphalt, gravel and other regional seasonal transport needs.
The mechanic shop and loading docks are all located in adjacent warehouses next to Lisa’s and Danyelle’s offices, allowing the duo to troubleshoot on site.
As tempting as it can be for a sister to boss around her brothers, Danyelle says she’s learned from her mother to take things in stride and not to sweat the small stuff.
“Sometimes I like to make them think I’m the boss, so I say ‘do this and do that’ and ‘you have to do it my way’,” she laughs. “And then my brother reacts and tells me I’m not the boss and then we laugh it off. We pretend we can tell each other what to do – we’re lighthearted and we do our best to not take any of it personally.”
Trucking In Their Blood
Lisa started driving a truck around the mid-1980s. She met her husband several years later, while working for his mother – who, coincidently, also owned her own trucking company.
When asked if she’s ever considered a different career, Lisa laughs and says she has “trucking in her blood.”
She turns the lights on every morning around 5 a.m. – rain or shine, snow or sleet. Depending on transport delays due to weather or other interruptions, it’s usually a 12-hour work day for her and her family.
“You have to be passionate about it or it’s not going to work,” says Lisa. “You have to be happy in what you’re doing. Dreams don’t work unless you do.”
Separating Business, Emotions
Lisa and her daughter work together to bid and fulfill transportation accounts and contracts – and that means a lot of paperwork and interaction between the two. As business owners, both agree they work harder knowing they empower their own success. As mother and daughter, they feel even more motivated to make it work.
The duo shares some tips on how they make it work:
- The Zone: No employee is immune from having a rough day, and with family the situation can be more sensitive. Try and remember to take a breath and think through the interaction.
- Make Time for Family: Don’t forget to make time for barbecues and socializing.
- Laugh: When things get tough, a joke can ease tensions.
- Busy Hands/Busy Minds: Business owners tend to work long hours. Bringing your children into the business can help their minds stay busy.
- Friend and Partner: If you want to go into business with your mom or vice versa, make sure you have a good relationship; otherwise it will prove challenging
- Exit When Needed: Even best friends can’t agree all the time. When faced with a frustrating situation, it’s best to walk away, close the door or go for a drive. Take time to think it over and come back to the conversation later.
- Enjoy: Embrace working with your family as a way to learn more about them and learn FROM them.
Learn more about PNC’s resources for Women in Business »
Lisa Fischer and her daughter Danyelle work alongside each other every day. The duo share their tips on how decision-makers and family members can keep things positive when working together.
Studies show that women-owned businesses are the fastest-growing business segment in the United States. In Wisconsin, women-owned businesses have grown by almost 30% in the last 10 years, but that growth still remains well below the national average, according to data from the U.S. Small Business Administration and studies by the Kauffman Foundation.
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