The perfect balance
Having moved to Nelson from her homeland five years ago, Laongdao Phelps — better known as ‘Tuki’ — already feels well at home in her adopted country, driving deliveries for Bidfood.
Before driving full-time, Tuki worked at a local orchard, with the highlight of her job being taking workers between the warehouse and the fields. However, her hours meant she didn’t see much of her husband or son.
“It got to a point where I wanted to prioritise my family, so I knew I would have to find something else,” she says.
“I decided to make driving a truck my full-time job. My husband was already enjoying working with Bidfood, so I decided to apply there – luckily I was accepted as a delivery driver.”
The job has afforded Tuki a better work-life balance, giving her more time with her son.
Rising early at 5am each morning and finishing early in the afternoon, Tuki loves being home when her son returns from school and cooking dinner together and catching up.
“Before this job, he would have to come home to an empty house, but trucking has allowed me to work a schedule where I can manage both priorities.
“I love my job. Constantly being on the move and talking to friendly customers every day is very rewarding.”
Tuki says has never been deterred by the apparent challenges facing a female truck driver.
“I was never scared of driving trucks. There were some nerves that my trainer would say I’m not good enough at doing what I love most, but I proved quickly I had the skills.
“When I started, I was still under the impression it was a ‘man’s job’, but I quickly found out I could do the hard work without a problem.
“I am excited by the possibility that I can one day move up to bigger trucks and bigger jobs,” says Tuki. “I will continue learning and gaining skills, so one day I can get there.”