Schools in Ohio Try to Fill Need for Truck Drivers

Denver Hamrick

In this July 21, 2011 photo, Dave Mayfield of Panther Expedited Service, left, talks with Hamrick Truck School owner Denver Hamrick during a career fair, in Medina, Ohio. MANDATORY CREDIT Photo: Akron Beacon Journal, Phil Masturzo / AP

AKRON, Ohio (AP) — A nationwide shortage of truck drivers has truck-driver schools in Ohio working to help trucking companies fill that need with newly-trained drivers.

Trucking organizations' estimates on the need for drivers over the next couple of years range from 100,000 to 500,000, the Akron Beacon Journal ( reported. Industry officials say the aging of the current driver population and increased trucking regulations are some of the reasons contributing to the tight market.

The shortage is forcing companies to look more at hiring students from schools, even though carriers typically prefer drivers with one or more years of experience, said Kreigh Spahr, program manager at the Euclid-based truck-driver school at Cuyahoga Community college in northeast Ohio.

"Every major carrier is hiring," Spahr told the newspaper

The founder of the Hamrick Truck Driving School in Medina County says most trucking companies he deals with come to the school to recruit. First-year pay typically is in the low $30,000 range, Denver Hamrick said.

Many trucking companies also will reimburse new drivers for tuition, starting at about $100 to $140 a month, if they stay with the company for a set time, Hamrick said.

Schools say many students are turning to trucking as a second career.

Gladys Tejada, 37, of Cuyahoga Falls, previously worked in quality control at a Summit County business, but expects to graduate from Hamrick's school in September and start driving a truck for a living.

While it's been more difficult than she expected, Tejada said it's what she has always wanted to do.

"Every time I drive, I like it more," she said.

Scott Shy, driver recruiter for Maverick Transportation LLC in Little Rock, Ark., recently attended an open house at the Hamrick school aimed at matching students and drivers with employers.

"There's just not enough drivers to fill the needs of the public," said Shy.

Maverick provides extensive training for new drivers, but turnover among its drivers is 73 percent every three months, Shy said.

Rusty Napier, of Napier Truck Driver Training Inc. in Hamilton, told The Associated Press that the school in southwest Ohio gets calls from companies around the country, but doesn't always have students available.

"Most students — once they have their license — have companies waiting for them," he said

The school's five-week classes cost $4,195 and only have about 10 or 12 students, "but these companies pay people to come talk to them," Napier said... Continue Reading...