Viewpoint: Uncle Sam wants you!

by Lou Smyrlis

It appears that with at least three big American carriers launching recruitment campaigns on Canadian turf, and huge transborder companies like Schneider National announcing plans to greatly boost their pay packages north of the border (and increase time-at-home opportunities too), Canadian drivers and O/Os are about to become a hot commodity on the cross border market.

As Jim Reeves, director of international operations and the point man for Louisville, Ky.-based Mercer Transportation’s soon-to-be launched recruitment campaign in Ontario explains, Canadian drivers are better at performing all the tricky tasks involved with crossing the border because they do it so often.

Reeves, the only U.S. carrier representative who would speak to Truck News on the record about such Canadian recruitment plans, is confident Canadian truckers will be attracted by his company’s high transborder rates, paid in U.S. dollars, its credentials as a Free and Secure Trade partner (FAST) and its willingness to cover the cost of new O/Os becoming FAST-approved as well.

Time will tell if Reeves and the other U.S. carriers are right. In the meantime, here are a few facts to consider when Uncle Sam’s carriers come courting you:

1. Money matters: Our own annual data on pay in the transportation and logistics industry, which we’ve been collecting for the last six years, shows that people who make more money have higher levels of job satisfaction. It’s hard to argue with a new car in the garage and a paid-off mortgage.

2. Home time matters too: The transborder business is a much more important part, in general, of Canadian carrier revenues than is the case with U.S. carriers. It makes sense then that just as Canadian drivers are more experienced in dealing with the required paperwork so too are their carriers more experienced in getting them back to and through the border with fewer hassles.

3. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: You’ll want to be careful about signing on for big bucks with a large U.S. carrier suffering from a high turnover rate. American Trucking Associations chief economist Bob Costello reported in December line-haul driver turnover for America’s largest truckload carriers (those with a minimum $30 million annual revenue) hit a whopping 121 per cent in the third quarter of 2004. There are many reasons for driver turnover but the question you should ask is why are so many people jumping seats?

That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider working for an American carrier. There are some with first-rate operations.

But it is to say that you should follow your head, not your heart in considering Uncle Sam’s advances.

– Lou Smyrlis can be reached at or (416) 510-5142.

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