As a long-time reader of your magazine, the time has come for me to rant. But first a little about myself.
I have nearly 35 years in the left seat of a truck, three years as warehouse manager/dispatcher.
I have trained drivers, ran team, hauled freight, flats, tanks, A-and B-trains, etc. for two million miles and have 20 years of recorded accident-free miles.
I state these things not to brag, but to show that I have some knowledge of the industry. Lately I have noticed a new buzz word in our industry: Retention.
The powers that be seem to occupy many hours of their time in meetings which are labeled steering committees, retention programs, market dynamics, etc. These functions are designed to try to find out why new people are not getting into our industry and how to keep the people we have.
First off, don’t try to understand why I am damned proud to do what we do 70 to 90 hours a week, just appreciate the fact that we do it.
Secondly, instead of standing behind a podium once or twice a year and telling us that we are the company’s highway ambassador, treat us as such.
We do not require special treatment or praise but only to be looked upon and treated as an equal part of your operation. Truck drivers are not a commodity or piece of equipment.
We do not have a unit number. Retention is not as complicated a matter as one would think.
You are dealing with people – nothing more or less. I have a wife, children, grandchildren, a dog and a house.
I am a lot like you.
Thirdly, you love to refer to us as “professional drivers” and then set out to tell us when to shift gears, how to save fuel, when we need to sleep and how long I can drive before I am tired.
If you give me a load with a reasonable time to get there, I will get enough sleep, I wont burn more fuel by driving hard to make time and I will represent your company well.
In closing, please let me say that this is an honourable way to make a living and it has served me well.
If any of you are considering the trucking industry as a career, do not be discouraged – it can be a rewarding and proud profession.
Just make sure to choose a company that respects your contribution.
And to the trucking companies: stop trying to complicate retention, just look at us as an equal part of your operation and many of your problems will disappear.
Roy M. Steeves Via e-mail
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