Retaining talent is an issue plaguing many industries and companies across the country on a daily basis. The transportation industry is no different and suffers every day and especially in retaining solid trusted drivers.
Mike recently transitioned from a driver at Bulldog Trucking to our AggDirect Account Analyst specifically focused on ticket verification. We sat down with Mike to talk about his previous role as a driver, challenges facing the transportation industry, and the shift from behind a wheel to behind a desk.
Q: Tell me how long you drove for and what prompted the change to become a driver?
A: I mostly worked in the catering industry up until early October 2021 when a friend of mine said that he was getting his CDL and he suggested I look into it. November 2021 I passed my CDL exam and began driving for Bulldog Trucking shortly after.
Q: What materials do you traditionally drive and what region?
A: I hauled dirt and other common construction materials, largely in the Baltimore region of MD.
Q: While working for Bulldog Trucking what did you appreciate the most about being a driver?
A: Definitely being on my own on the road all day was a nice change of pace from my previous employment and constantly exploring new areas around both Washington D.C. and Baltimore MD, were two of the main things I truly enjoyed about Trucking on a daily basis.
Q: Conversely, what are some of the toughest parts about being a truck driver?
A: It is definitely the hazards on the road– from construction and road repair to other drivers cutting you off constantly. It is not as easy to slam on the brakes with 20 tons of dirt in the back of the bed. Those are definitely the toughest parts having to be so laser focused on so many things at once.
Q: Could you talk a little bit about your view on the driver shortage as a whole?
A: Sure! There is definitely a huge lack of drivers at the moment due to a number of factors. The first is a general lack of interest in driving big trucks. As cars get smaller and more e-friendly it is increasingly more difficult to convince people to drive around huge dump trucks. The second reason is more non-traditional driver jobs such as rideshare apps or more recently grocery/food delivery apps. This has reached a large pool of what could be considered potential haul drivers. I think these two have impacted the driver shortage in direct ways.
Q: Other major issues facing the transportation industry at the moment?
A: The driver shortage is huge but I also think a big issue is the pushback against technology implementation. A lot of the drivers are not ingrained in the technology landscape and have traditionally just wanted to do the driving and worry about all the paperwork at the end of the shift. I think the addition of software and e-ticketing technologies such as AggDirect are beginning to shift the overall landscape.
Q: That is totally understandable, but could you talk about how AggDirect is combating the resistance and its positive impact on drivers that you have seen?
A: AggDirect just makes the drivers’ lives easier. It allows the drivers to optimize paperwork digitally to allow them more time to drive. It helps the site managers keep everything streamlined and allows errors to be more easily spotted. AggDirect is a great resource and tool. As it continues to grow and improve the overall training and user experience it will be a must have for drivers and contractors.
Q: Shifting gears to the office tell me about your primary responsibilities?
A: Haha nice transition about the gear shifts! I started in the office the first week of July. I mainly handle all of the ticket verification from job sites and drivers.
Q: In terms of verification, what exactly are you checking for?
A: All the authorizing signatures, tasks being completed, making sure the amount of loads and materials are marked correctly and amongst other things. Working in the field obviously helped me become more familiar with the ticketing system so it has become a seamless transition for me.
Q: Any other perks of working in the office?
A: While I definitely did enjoy working on my own hours and by myself, the work-life balance in my life has greatly improved. Everyone in the office is great, and it truthfully is a fantastic atmosphere.
Q: Any last thoughts you’d like to mention?
A: Overall, driver retention is a serious problem because the demand is as high as it has ever been. Across the industry this is something we definitely need to invest in whether by creating pipelines or some other innovation but we need to focus on that and secondly, I think the technology side is moving in a positive direction. In terms of other industries it is behind the eight ball but the direction we are in with all of the new software out there the future seems really promising.
Photo Credits: Andrew Mangum