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Connie Foureman’s career is a lesson on the power of learning something new

By Hilary Reeves

Growing up, Connie Foureman’s career options were limited. The youngest of three children living in Sidney, Ohio, a small manufacturing town north of Dayton, she took business courses in high school to help prepare for an office job after graduation.

“My high school had an all-boy band, and even the band majorette was a boy,” she said. “All the boys played horns in the band, and the girls had to choose from among the string instruments, so I played the violin for a few years. I wanted to be a dancer, but one of the (founders) of my ballet school quit within six months of beginning a professional career. She said it was very hard, and if she couldn’t do it, I knew I didn’t stand a chance. We weren’t given the opportunities to pursue careers, except what ‘girls’ did. It’s refreshing to see all the choices women have today.”

Foureman started working part-time for a trucking company while she was still in high school. After graduation, she worked in the company’s traffic department creating tariff pages before a promotion to Accounting. Several years later, Foureman married a truck broker and began working as his office manager. A few more years passed in Ohio before her husband sold his business and the couple moved to sunny Tampa, Florida, where Foureman found Navieras and the ocean transportation business.

“I learned documentation, ratings, booking, customer service, and soon became the Freight Audit Supervisor, where I found my passion,” she said. “The ocean transportation business to Puerto Rico was so much more involved than just trucking from one state to another.”

Foureman currently works as the Freight Audit Team Lead for TOTE Resources, based in Jacksonville. The company provides audit services for TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico. Though her years in the industry have produced many challenges, there are two that she continues to draw inspiration from.

“When Navieras began service to South America, Freight Audit wasn’t going to be involved, so I was given very little information about the service,” she explained. “But guess what? When the customer had a problem, they called Freight Audit. I had no experience or training in foreign trade, but I stepped up immediately to talk to our agents and issue corrections so the cargo would be released.”

A New Change

The second, more emotional challenge, was making the move from Tampa to Jacksonville.

“When Sea Star Line purchased Navieras, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity,” she said. “That was a scary time. I was selling my house to move to a new city, work for a different company, and when I began work and had trouble getting a report of out the new computer system, I was ready to run away and hide.”

Foureman, smiling, stands in front of mural at TOTE Maritime Puerto Rico's offices
Foureman currently works as the Freight Audit Team Lead

Fortunately, Foureman instead began working with I.T., made changes, kept working, made more changes, and with some help from fellow employees, scaled the workload down.

“Everyone survived, and business continued,” she laughed.

Foureman said she is most proud of her work to make the invoicing process more efficient while participating as part of the Invoice Production Team. The team determined it was more efficient for one person to both document and rate shipments, instead of having one group document and once group rate.

“I’d describe myself as flexible,” she said. “Over the years, we’ve been through three back office systems and many, many changes. I believe you have to be flexible and able to accept change quickly and move forward, or get left behind in the dust. There is always something new happening, and with new systems or services, we have to accept change and adapt quickly.”

Foureman’s father, 91 years old last December, taught her to work hard and accept responsibility. While she regrets not going to college, she acknowledges that, had she gone, she would never have met her husband or worked for TOTE.

“My husband and I have enjoyed 33 years of marriage and ‘the girls:’ Dolly, a three-year-old dachshund, and Daisy, a two-year-old dachshund.”

Foureman currently serves as a caregiver to her husband, who has suffered some medical problems in recently years, but hopes someday to travel – and perhaps write a book.

I love my job, my coworkers and this company,” she concluded “We work together with other departments and have cross-functional team collaboration to solve problems. Our goal is to help prevent forest fires – I mean future errors, she joked – to reduce corrections. Our motto is that we always do the right thing.”