Roehl’s Karen Baltus Defines Driver Success
TeamRoehl Driver, Karen Baltus, was recently featured in National Truckin' Magazine.
“There have been so many twists and turns in trucking. I didn’t sign up for half of them, and I couldn’t have predicted the other half,” says Karen Baltus, a professional truck driver in Roehl Transport’s Refrigerated Division. In 2022, Karen achieved 1 Million Safe Miles with Roehl, and she did so in just eight years. Karen may say that she’s just a simple girl from Wisconsin, but her journey in trucking truly defines Driver Success. She’s overcome so many obstacles and learned so much. “I’ve struggled, and not only have I survived, I’ve thrived. I’m very proud of that,” Karen said. By challenging herself, Karen has raised the bar for professional drivers everywhere.
“I didn’t know anything about trucking,” she confessed. That didn’t stop her from giving up a 20+ year career as a Food and Nutrition Supervisor, getting her CDL and joining Roehl Transport. “I was in my comfort zone, my kids (Corrine and Connie) were grown, and it was just a good time to explore something new,” she added.
Karen shared that, in the beginning, her only goal was “to get from Point A to Point B safely.” After a while, Karen began tracking her miles in real-time using the My Roehl App, and that allowed her to compete with herself. “I started looking for ways to advance the loads and to manage my clock,” she commented. “I found it easy to get more miles that way,” she continued.
She got more miles, and as she did, she set new goals. “I was getting 37-38,000 miles in a quarter, and I really wanted to get 40,000.” So she did. Three times. Then she set a goal of driving 150,000 miles in a year, which she did. Then she set a goal of earning more than $100,000 in a year, which she did. On her way to 1 million safe miles, she’s earned Roehl’s coveted Driver of the Year Award four times.
Roehl CEO, Rick Roehl, Karen Baltus, President of Dry Van/Dedicated/Refrigerated Division, Don Ingersoll.
Driving all those miles has meant a quite a bit of time on the road, but Karen noted that whenever she’s needed to be home, she has gotten there. Shortly after starting with Roehl, Karen’s mother passed away. “It was incredible how Roehl changed things to get me home,” she shared.
Despite logging all those miles, Karen experienced very little downtime because of equipment issues. “I couldn’t do my job without maintenance. Most of the equipment is outstanding. If there’s a problem, Roehl gets you to a terminal and works to resolve the issue.” Karen shared that one time her truck had a major problem. So Roehl got her a hotel room and then a rental car so she could be in a new truck the next day. She also said that once, when her clutch went out, she got the truck to Roehl’s Chicagoland terminal where she got a new truck the same day. (Roehl measures time in the shop in minutes, not days like other companies.)
What may surprise some people is that Karen has logged the vast majority of those miles going 60 mph. Even though she could go faster, she shared, “I find 60 relaxing, and I speed up if necessary. I don’t clog traffic. But, you don’t have to go fast to make more. It’s all about managing your clock."
For Karen, who has heard plenty of horror stories from drivers from other companies, Roehl’s support is unparalleled. Karen noted the My Roehl App helps her do her job with features like sharing images of equipment, the ability to see pre-plans on her phone when she’s not in her truck, and an innovative tool named ShipAdvisor, which lets her see insights into the locations she is going to. Another innovation is Roehl’s last mile routing, which Karen called “incredible” because it helps drivers get “right to the guard shack” and that makes things “so, so much better” for drivers.
Making things better for drivers is part of Roehl Transport’s value of Driver Driven. From the evolution to sliding mileage pay scales that better compensate drivers for their time, to address-to-address practical mileage calculations that more accurately reflect the miles Roehl drivers have driven on each load, to profit sharing, to accident-free pay that drivers earn as they go (instead of waiting for an annual safety bonus), Roehl offers so much to professional drivers. One benefit that Karen took advantage of was bringing her dog with her. “Jazzie was perfect to have in the truck. She helped me smile,” Karen reminisced. Sadly, Jazzie passed away in 2021.
While Roehl offers dry van, flatbed, dedicated and curtainside fleet options, Karen said she enjoys pulling refrigerated freight. “I like the customers. And even after eight years, I still go to new places,” she said. Karen’s been to all the contiguous states except Florida, and trucking’s allowed her to see her network of friends all across the county.
As for her future, Karen’s not sure where her journey will take her. “My goal this year is to spend as much time with my four grandchildren, Jaelyn, Trey, Rhilyn and Amari, as possible. Whether it’s four-wheeling, playing baseball, shopping or eating ice cream, it’s just fun to have that quality time together,” she shared.
If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that Karen will achieve her goal, and Roehl will be there to support her.
“I like Roehl’s safety values, the equipment, the pay, being home when I want to,” she concluded.
From home daily, to home weekly, to even part time driving jobs, Roehl Transport is one of North America’s safest and most successful trucking companies. Roehl drivers like Karen are leaders in safety, productivity and earnings, and Roehl’s CEO, Rick Roehl, is also a driver. To learn more about truck driving jobs near you, visit www.roehl.jobs or call 715-591-7050.