By Lucy M. Pritchett
For many women, moving seamlessly from a career in fashion to a career in freight might take some doing. But Cindy Collier, president and CEO of Mister “P” Express, Inc. in Jeffersonville, carried what she had learned in retail fashion and joined her father in founding the trucking company.
“I came from working in beautiful malls where the girls dress perfectly to an industry where the fashion standard is boots and jeans,” Cindy says.
At one time Cindy worked in cosmetics at the old Stewart’s department store in Louisville. After that, she went to work for Casual Corner, a woman’s clothing store. She moved quickly from lead assistant manager to manager and then to district sales manager for the company.
After her second daughter was born — she and her husband David have three daughters — Cindy became a stay-at-home mom.
“That was a disaster,” she says with a laugh. “I was cooking a lot and gaining weight, doing crafts, making hair bows — anything to keep me occupied. My dad (Allan Parnell) called and said, ‘I’m starting a trucking company and I need a girl in the office. I want you to come work for me.’ I figured that I would be working with a bunch of tobacco chewing men when in reality these were family men trying to earn a living.”
|Cindy stands with her father ‘Mister P” Allan Parnell who was named Philanthropist of the Year by Business First’s |
Partners in Philanthropy program. Photos by Patti Hartog
She had no experience with this industry, and trucking came with a whole new language, she says. She had no idea what to do for the company, but she had drive and motivation so she did every job from billing to dispatching to hiring to cleaning toilets.
“I recognized quickly that sales would be my forte and started building the sales department. I would call on customers and hand-deliver invoices and take them homemade pumpkin bread. They loved it. I was really good at follow-up and details and developing personal relationships.”
The company is now celebrating its 30th year. It started with three trucks. It now has 200 bright red trucks with the company’s yellow insignia and at least 300 employees. As a contract carrier with 48-state and Canadian authority, its customer base is very diverse, Cindy says. Its fleet of trucks haul everything from appliances to spirits to cabinetry to food products.
“I’m very passionate about our services. They are top-notch. We have built a reputation on doing what we say we are going to do. We don’t call and say, ‘Oh, I was just kidding.’ You are going to get what you ordered and on time.”
Cindy reflected on her successful stay in the transportation industry.
“This is what I’ve learned: People can see sincerity. You must be sincere with customers. I believe in the Golden Rule. It’s our company motto. I believe in giving back to the community. My dad has been doing that for a while and now it’s time for me to get out there in the community as well. I believe in surrounding myself with really good people. Right now we are training people to take the company to the next level. I love seeing people flourish.”