Polyak Trucking & Logistics
Location: Waukesha County, WI
Pamela Polyak has been breaking stereotypes ever since she took the reins at Polyak Trucking & Logistics, the company founded by her father in 1986. First, she’s had to prove herself worthy of running the company to those who doubted her. Then, and even today, she has to overcome the hurdles of running a company in a male-dominated industry.
“Stereotypes are a very real thing and to break the barrier of judgment takes a level of conviction that I’ve learned not everyone can have,” Polyak said. “When I first started — I can’t lie — my dad just gave me the job. I didn’t have to interview or even fill out an application, but that ‘boss’ daughter’ stereotype was one of the biggest hurdles I ever needed to climb.”
To prove herself, Polyak threw herself into the business. She came in early and stayed late, took classes, earned an MBA and, if she didn’t know the answer to a question from a customer or associate, she vowed to find it. She recalls one Saturday night when she was pouring over books and training tools about a new software program when a driver popped in and asked why she was there. “There is work to be done,” Polyak responded.
Polyak works in an industry in which only about 10% of drivers are women, and it’s extremely rare to find a woman-owned trucking company. Polyak said she is often asked if her husband owns the company that bears her last name. “Breaking the stereotypes dominated in this industry is my goal,” she said.
Polyak Trucking operates with these core values: treat everyone with respect, safety, personal integrity, accountability, and creative approaches to problem solving. “There are millions of trucking companies to choose from; if we don’t stay true to consistent performance standards we won’t continue to succeed,” the company said.
In March 2021, the company broke ground on a 10,000-square-foot, five-acre building that will allow for growth and include a training center for young truck owners looking to grow their business.
Polyak has been a foster parent and is a single, adoptive parent. “Being a single foster mom, then a single adoptive mom and learning how to grow as a mom and learning how to balance being a boss and a mom at the same time will always be my biggest accomplishment,” Polyak said. “Do I get it right all the time? No way. Are there nights when I’m on the phone way more than I’d like or I’m simply too exhausted to do much? Absolutely, but that daughter of mine will never fail, has a heart of gold and loves harder than anyone I’ve ever met. She will always be my biggest accomplishment.”
Fun Fact: I'm good at braiding hair. I can braid any hair, in 100 different ways/designs.