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Summers first woman to chair state organization
This has been a whirlwind spring for Rebecca Summers, president of Lester R. Summers Inc. and partner in K & B Summers Inc.
She not only was named chairwoman of the Pennsylvania Motor Trucking Association (PMTA), and is the first woman to hold that office, but she was also named as one of Central Penn Business Journal’s Top 25 Women of Influence and was honored at a luncheon June 16.
Founded in 1946, Lester Summers Inc. is owned and operated by the third generation of the Summers family: Rebecca “Becky”, her brother, John, and cousin, Ken. Originally, the company hauled sand and concrete blocks, but has evolved to hauling prestressed and precast concrete, prefab steel, machinery and sand and stone for the concrete and blacktop industries. The company specializes in parking garages.
“I grew up around the business, but I had jobs in other industries such as grocery stores and tourism in high school. In college, I began to work for the business over summer vacation and during breaks &tstr; I did everything including sweeping floors and securing oversize loads,” she said.
Her brother John said their father taught them that no job was beneath them.
“Even today, Becky fills in wherever she’s needed if we’re short-handed,” he said.
After graduating cum laude with a B.S. in accounting from Saint Leo College in Saint Leo, Fla., she took a position with the U.S. Department of Defense as a compliance auditor for the Army.
“I enjoyed that position, but wanted to move back to the Ephrata area,” Becky Summers said. “At that time, Lester Summers Trucking was growing and needed a fulltime safety director and I filled that role.”
She also became involved with PMTA, which was founded in 1928, and Lancaster’s chapter safety committee shortly afterwards. Lester Summers Inc. has quite a history with PMTA, joining as a member in the 1950s. Becky Summers has been active in the Lancaster chapter, as well as the state organization.
“It’s a great place to learn about the industry. As a state association, we also have a voice with the legislators and regulatory agencies and can provide information about issues to legislators, local municipal leaders and local chambers of commerce,” she said.
One issue that the organization provided input on is the weight restrictions that PennDOT placed on bridges in the Fall of 2013.
Although she holds a CDL, commercial drivers license and is certified to train other drivers, she doesn’t do over the road hauling, but will move some trucks within the company complex. In 1988, with assistance from her father, Lester Summers Jr., she and cousin, Ken Summers, formed a certified woman-owned business enterprise known as K & B Summers Inc.
Summers explained that the idea for K & B Summers began during a management consulting project for a New Jersey-based customer that had trucks to haul their own product.
“As we turned things around for our customer, they decided they were not truckers and closed that segment of their business. The customer indicated that they were open to us becoming their house carrier. Lester Summers Inc. wasn’t interested in this expansion, so Ken Summers and I decided to form our own company and provide this service,” she said. K & B Summers got its start hauling out of Williamstown Junction and Vineland, N.J., starting with five drivers and has grown to 15.
“That was a wonderful learning experience, we started at the very bottom and grew the company to what it is today,” Becky Summers proudly said.
She also helped found Summers Freight Brokerage with her brother, John, and father, Lester Summers Jr., in 2005 and serves as its treasurer. This company matches loads and equipment.
She became president of Lester R. Summers Inc. in 2010, a year into the commercial construction downslide. John Summers reported that after suffering losses in 2009 and 2010, under her guidance, the company posted three consecutive years of growth, earnings and profitability.
“Becky has spent the last 27 years making her way in a male-dominated field, and she’s done this while maintaining her commitment to family and community,” he said.
She credits her parents with providing a good foundation for both she and John.
“My parents always had the philosophy that we should always do our best and not limit ourselves and be open to possibilities. I’ve had great mentors in my parents. My dad provided insight in the business, but my mom’s also been a great role model, she ran the house. They both have showed me that you have to work hard for what you want and you have to believe in yourself,” she explained.
Becky herself has mentored and helped educate others in the trucking industry and also serves the community. John pointed out that she’s also active in fitness programs at the Ephrata Rec Center and mentors women there as well showing them that they can find time for work, family and fitness.