Small operation with big socially conscious ambitions
Small operation with big socially conscious ambitions
By Connie Lannan
April 11, 2023
Erika Humes grew up around heavy equipment as her family was in the paving industry. While working as the chief financial officer for a Monterey, Calif.-based paving company and seeing the need for trucking and equipment rentals, she decided to take the plunge and begin Pink Trucking & Equipment, a certified woman-owned business with a social consciousness in Corralitos, Calif., about 45 minutes from Monterey.
It’s been quite the metamorphosis, she admits. “I started helping my dad in the business at a very young age. When I got older, I worked as an underwriter at a credit union and then became the CFO at Coastal Paving and Excavating. I always have had an entrepreneurial mindset and found that I no longer wanted to work 9-5 for someone else. I wanted to build my own success and offer opportunities to others like I was offered growing up. You can’t do that with someone else’s company, so I ventured out on my own. I started Pink Trucking & Equipment in November 2021, but I really didn’t hit the ground running until February 2022,” she says. “It has been quite the experience and a lot to learn. I started out pretty slow and am getting all the knowledge to grow and expand.”
As far as her inventory, she started with two dump trucks. “I also have the Ford F-250 for hauling and towing. I recently got a vac trailer and am purchasing two 10-wheelers. I am pretty small right now, but I try to reach out to local small businesses and slowly grab my hands onto the equipment that will be the most utilized,” she says.
Her client base is slowly growing, too. “Coastal Paving and Excavating is one of my biggest customers. I have a lot of small business, self-proprietor-type companies and contractors,” she says. She has worked as well with Eric Saulnier at Rental Depot, also based in Monterey. “I stay in touch with the team at Rental Depot. I haven’t been able to help Rental Depot out very much as my equipment rents out so quickly. I also subrent from him. If I need anything, I have no problem contacting him.”
An important distinction to her business is that Humes is dedicated to giving back. As she states on her website: “At Pink Trucking, we believe strongly in supplier diversity, supporting and partnering with businesses that are owned and operated by the underserved and underrepresented. Supplier diversity helps businesses owned by minorities, the disabled, U.S. military veterans, the LGBTQ+ community and more. Pink Trucking also gives 5 percent of our profits to breast cancer awareness.”
Why is that so important to Humes? “Growing up, I didn’t come from the wealthiest or easiest background. I had to start figuring out what I wanted to do when I was 13 years old. I had a lot of others, including those who weren’t my family, step up and help me. Once you experience help like that, it changes your life. You want to do that for others. I want to be the voice for that and give opportunities and chances. As part of that, diversity is huge for me. It comes from being an underdog and how one person putting their hand out as a steppingstone can help you. That is my way of giving back to the people who have gotten me to where I am today,” she says.
As far as her support of breast cancer awareness, Humes says, “I can’t think of a better way to give back to, represent or show respect for women than to donate to such a positive cause. This will be the first year I will be able to give back. I am asking my clients for suggestions of breast cancer awareness programs that they are connected with and would like me to donate the funds to,” she says.
In addition to giving back financially, she shows her support by adding pink breast cancer awareness stickers to her dump trucks. “The 10-wheelers will be painted pink,” she says.
Besides the philanthropic aspect of her business, Humes implements a “people-first approach to trucking,” she says. “I do feel like different people have different needs. You are not dealing with the same situation with every person. Helping this person can really change their lives or give them a moment to get to a place where they are able to step up and move forward themselves. That is my view on running a business. I want to hear my customers’ stories and help however I can. I want to see people succeed and want to have those connections and relationships with these people. That is huge for me.”
While new to the rental industry, she “loves the social aspect and how people in the industry work together. There is enough money to be made by everyone. The more we empower each other, the better it is,” she says.
Humes learned about the American Rental Association (ARA) from Saulnier at Rental Depot. “Eric referred me to Michael Bell [ARA Insurance preferred agent] with Robert Bell Insurance Brokers. We talked about his promotion of childhood cancer awareness and my push for breast cancer awareness. We connected and he has been so easy to work with,” she says.
Once she became an ARA member, “I saw all the cool things and events and resources that ARA offers. I wanted to go to the Women in Rental Conference, but it was already sold out when I tried to register. I plan to go to The ARA Show™ and the other events offered by ARA because the more you meet and get to talk with others, the more you learn. I think it is awesome,” she adds.
Venturing out on her own was a huge leap of faith, but “I realized that I was the person who could do this. Once I realized that, there was nothing that could hold me back,” she says.