A Need to Ship basis

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Entrepreneur launches Web site to help trucking industry

PENDLETON, Ore. - Like many entrepreneurs, Penny Walker carries herself with a high level of self-confidence, the willingness to learn and a can-do attitude.

At 44, Walker has launched herself into a business venture with the opening of her Web site, Need to Ship. She quit her job as a truck driver and broker in early 2007 to pursue an area where she discovered a potential market that could help fellow truckers earn some extra cash.

The title pretty much describes the site's basic function: If you need something shipped, usually an oversized item, seek the help of Need to Ship.

Similar to the popular auction site eBay in concept, users place their items on the site that they need shipped and truck drivers bid on the delivery. ''If it's relatively small, people are going to ship it UPS; but if it's oversized, they can use Need to Ship.''

Walker's examples of oversized items include cars, boats, furniture, restaurant supplies, pianos, and just about anything else that is big.

The fledgling Web site officially launched in April, and five shippers and seven transportation service providers are ready to bid on items that need to be shipped. With diesel on the rise, truckers could use a few extra bucks in their pockets to ship an item en route of an existing destination or to simply take on a side assignment.

As with most new companies, getting on track with advertising and marketing is key to success. Walker, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, is currently seeking out trucking companies and private owner/operators. With customers all over the nation, she needs for them to have plenty of options for shipping.

''I have a database with 500 to 600 companies.''

When she purchased the Need to Ship domain name, she grabbed up more than a dozen others to eliminate competition. She is counting on The Nickel Auction to be a hit as well. While the site is open for business to all auction buffs, she especially encourages Native artisans to climb aboard. ''I really want to dive into the Native American aspect of arts and crafts.''

And if customers need something shipped from The Nickel Auction, they can count on Need to Ship to get the job done, she said.

Walker learned HTML from a former neighbor sometime during the birth of the Internet. She enjoyed building pages so much that she assisted friends with the creation of their Web sites and even picked up a few side jobs. But while she was running her truck driving business, her old-school coding techniques went out of style. So, she returned to school to learn the latest in Web design and marketing.

''There is so much behind-the-scenes stuff you have to do in addition to HTML,'' she said. ''The online auction sites are a lot more complex than I ever thought imaginable.''

Once Walker gets comfortable with her business, she plans on making it a family affair. She said that she is looking forward to working with her auction-buff father.

''They really like the idea of me running a Native-owned business,'' she said. ''They will pitch in and help once I get it up and running.''

Her 25-year-old daughter has helped her with the design of the Web sites. Walker said that she will eventually turn one of the sites over to her daughter to run, so she can rely on a steady income. ''She will always have something that she can do for the rest of her life.''

For more information, visit www.needtoship.com and www.thenickelauction.com.