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Carrying America: Understanding the nation’s most demanding job

This week in particular is a time for all of us to recognize the impact these professional men and women have on our economy and their significant influence on our day-to-day lives.

This story originally appeared in the Kansas City Business Journal.

By   –  Director of Carrier Solutions, Dynamic Logistix

 

Take a minute and scan your surroundings – your office, car, home – wherever you are. The organic cheese in the refrigerator; the running shoes you put on this morning; dog food; your office chair, stapler, AirPods. Everything you see has made it to its final destination thanks to the transportation and logistics industry, particularly the truck driver who hauled it there. And this week in particular is a time for all of us to recognize the impact these professional men and women have on our economy and their significant influence on our day-to-day lives.

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is Sept. 11-17. “This week is an important time for America to pay respect to professional truck drivers for their hard work and commitment in undertaking one of our economy’s most demanding and important jobs,” the American Trucking Association shared. “These 3.6 million professionals not only deliver our goods safely, securely and on time, but they also keep our highways safe.”

In a couple of months, while we enjoy time with friends and family at a holiday dinner, these professionals will work hard to ensure your shipments arrive as scheduled. Dynamic Logistix (DLX) has long understood that truck driving can be a thankless job – and we are working hard to change that narrative.

Dignity in driving America’s open roads

My family arrived in Chicago as war-refugee immigrants from El Salvador in 1989. For the better part of five years, my parents struggled to make ends meet, working multiple jobs that didn’t allow for any kind of consistent schedule. Times were tough, but in 1994, my father landed a job as a mechanic for a trucking company; it was the catalyst for him attaining his commercial driver’s license (CDL) and it was this job that would change our lives.

The image of my father’s rig taking up our whole driveway is vividly captured in my memory as is the pride I felt for him and his work ethic that helped our family reach financial stability after years of uncertainty. I never imagined I would end up in the same field a decade later – just on the other side of the equation. After graduating from college, working in the transportation industry was not in my plans, but as fate would have it, a trucking company in Chicago was the first to recruit me for an entry-level fleet management role.

Everything I witnessed as a child that made my father happy, angry or frustrated about being a truck driver helped me cultivate relationships with the drivers I managed. I took pride in learning the trucking profession inside and out – from dispatching to payroll. But one of the most impactful services I provided these trucking professionals was simply being a sounding board to let them air their grievances after a long day. That’s what they wanted – to be seen and heard. Being an over-the-road trucker can be a very lonely endeavor and having a deeper connection was so rewarding and it made business feel familial.

In today’s trucking climate, shortages may have a significant impact

Even as significant a role that drivers play in our economy, working conditions, compensation and benefits (or a lack thereof) don’t quite reflect the position’s importance. “The median annual pay for big-rig drivers in 2021, per BLS, was $48,310 or about $23 an hour,” according to CNBC. “Many of them work 60-70 hours a week, though a good deal of that time is spent waiting for goods to be loaded or unloaded, and they’re only paid for driving time. Many aren’t compensated for overtime, don’t have health care benefits, are paying their own fuel costs and spend days or weeks away from home.”

By 2030, the industry shortage is forecast to double to 160,000 as competition from e-commerce, retirements and difficulty attracting new workers and female drivers are challenges that have yet to be successfully addressed. Retaining drivers is another significant obstacle, with annual turnover rates that averaged 94% between 1995 and 2017 according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

In December 2021, in an attempt to combat supply chain disruptions and inflation, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Labor announced the Biden-Harris Trucking Action plan, an initiative aimed at federally funding an apprenticeship program for truck drivers that involves more than 100 employers and industry partners. “Making sure truck drivers are paid and treated fairly is the right thing to do,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “It will help with both recruiting new drivers and keeping experienced drivers on the job.”

Carrier solutions play an important part in improving working conditions

A part of addressing the truck driving shortages – and what the Biden-Harris Trucking Action plan is attempting – is for carrier partners and networks to also address the challenges within the profession and to offer opportunities for drivers to become more efficient and grow their businesses. And that’s been a priority of ours since the company began in 2016. “We want to be advocates for the Davids in a Goliath industry,” said Dynamic Logistix Chief Operating Officer and Managing Partner Jason Yeager. “It’s a core part of our values and we address and treat our carriers the same way we treat our clients, always leading with respect.”

 

Being a witness to my dad growing up and seeing the setbacks he encountered and how he was treated instilled a passion to improve the industry and make a positive impact on our relationship with our carriers. Thankfully, Dynamic Logistix has provided that opportunity. Our technology platform offers advanced transportation management solutions which means our drivers can focus on what they do best – covering miles safely, supporting America’s supply chain and economy, and proudly earning a living. I often think about how this kind of technology would have affected my father’s career back then and his life on the road. I can’t say for sure what the impact would have been because it was a different time back then, but what I do know is how proud he was of my commitment and participation in making things better for the next generation of drivers.

While this week officially recognizes driver appreciation, it shouldn’t stop here. We’ve made a pledge to be a champion of change and we’ll never stop working toward better solutions for our drivers. We’ve always been here, and we will continue to be here long after the next delivery arrives at your door.

About Dynamic Logistix

With more than $1 billion in managed freight under TMS management, Dynamic Logistix is always looking for reliable carriers to partner with. For more information, please visit our website.

Dynamic Logistix is a third-party provider of shipping and freight solutions that combines a world-class technology platform with stellar personal service. Our technology, our culture and our connections with shippers allows us to provide premium shipments to our carrier network.

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