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Industry Tries to Address Nationwide Truck Driver Shortage as Workforce Ages

Karen Messier checked her mirrors, shifted into reverse and eased off on the white 2006 Freightliner’s clutch.

With Kirkwood Community College driving instructor Roger Smith walking alongside the tandem axle semi — attached to a 53-feet-long trailer hauling a simulated 15,000-pound load — Messier maneuvered the massive rig delicately through a pattern of orange parking cones.

The 47-year-old New Orleans native is one of eight students in Kirkwood’s four-week truck driving course trying to enter an industry starved for professional commercial drivers.

“There’s just so many different career choices, and that’s what I love about it,” Messier said. “It’s all where your priorities are.”

In need of potential drivers like Messier, local employers such as CRST International and Don Hummer Trucking supply Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, with equipment and often send recruiters to the course’s later sessions in search of prospective employees.

CRST ranks No. 24 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

Much of the nation’s truck driver shortage is fueled by the retirement of veteran drivers, coupled with a growing transportation industry. But at the same time, programs such as Kirkwood’s also struggle to find young new talent to meet industry needs.

“We don’t have students banging on our doors as fast as we have employers banging on our doors, so we’re doing everything we can to recruit to get students in here to fill the needs of our employers,” said Amy Lasack, Kirkwood’s senior director of corporate training. “I would say if you have a clean driving history, if you’re safe in the training we have here, then you’re pretty much guaranteed a job.”

The shortage

In 2014, the nation’s trucking industry was short about 38,000 drivers, according to a 2015 truck driving shortage analysis conducted by American Trucking Associations.

That drought was expected to reach nearly 48,000 by the close of 2015 and, if the trend holds, the shortage would reach almost 175,000 by 2024.

The report stated the trucking industry would need to hire an average of 89,000 new drivers per year over the next decade to address the shortage. The biggest factor is a workforce reaching retirement age. The median age of over-the-road truck drivers is 49, while the median for all U.S. workers is 42.

Meanwhile, the median age of private fleet drivers is 52 years old.

“The reality is, right now, there’s more drivers exiting than there are drivers entering,” said Brenda Neville, president and chief executive officer of the Iowa Motor Trucking Association, or IMTA.

While retiring drivers account for about 45% of the shortage, not far behind are added job opportunities to handle industry growth, which accounts for 33% of the shortage, according to ATA’s report.

“I think every trucking company in the country would hire as many drivers that showed up on any given time, assuming they’re capable and safe and meet the requirements,” said Chris Hummer, president of Don Hummer’s Trucking in Oxford. “I think it has to be about casting a wider net and attracting as many people to the industry as we can.”

ATA’s report also lists some possible changes to the industry that could help attract more drivers, such as pay increases, allowing more at-home time or improving the driver image.

While many perceive the job as days on the road, and some positions still include long hours, a growing network of distribution centers has reduced the distance many truck drivers now travel, according to the report.

Untapped workforce

Neville said one barrier to filling the shortage is due to a federal rule that prohibits commercial drivers under 21 years old from crossing state lines.

“There are 18-year-old drivers that are very confident and would be more than able to drive across state lines and the federal rule is not allowing them to do that,” Neville said.

A new study by the American Transport Research Institute, which conducts transportation-related research and represents more than 35,000 motor carriers across the country, is looking into the untapped workforce of 18- to 20-year-old drivers.

Rebecca Brewster, president and chief operating officer of the ATRI, said the study will identify the qualities and characteristics of professional veteran drivers who are around 35 to 40 years old.

Then Brewster plans to identify 18- to 20-year-old drivers with similar traits to place into a pilot program that would see them driving across state lines. If successful, the program could expand, she said.

“We miss folks who are coming out of high school who are looking for a driving career, but are dissuaded because they can’t drive outside the state they are in,” Brewster said. “I think that we would hope to demonstrate that this is a successful tool of finding who among that population of 18 to 20 year olds would be appropriate to put into that pilot test.”

Neville said the program could help build a case for adjusting the federal government’s age requirements for drivers crossing state lines.

In addition to younger drivers, the large majority of the nation’s truck drivers are men.

While women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, they comprise just 6% of all truck drivers, according to ATA’s report.

Attracting drivers

Back at Kirkwood, Chris Kula, transportation business liaison with the college’s Continuing Education Training Center, said the school’s driving program — which is certified by the Professional Truck Driver Institute — averages at least six students per four-week class. That’s about between 75 to 90 students per year.

The average student is a mid-40s male, but the school is beginning to see more women drivers such as Karen Messier.

Kula, who last fall took Kirkwood’s four-week course, said the class is so much more than just learning to drive a big truck.

“I think the misconception I had was that this is just driving a truck,” Kula said. “It’s definitely a profession and a skill that is learned, and you have to be good at it.”

The course teaches driving skills, but also involves learning how to manage finances and eat healthy foods while spending days or weeks on the road.

In addition to trying to attract younger drivers and more women to the field, Kirkwood, this spring, launched its first four-week English-as-a-second-language class that acts as a preview course to the school’s truck driving program.

Kula said the course, which currently has seven students, likely will be available about four times a year, depending on demand.

But while employers and teachers try to attract more student drivers into the field, IMTA’s Neville said efforts also need to be made to simply redefine how the public views the American truck driver.

While every motorist remembers that one truck that cut them off in traffic, Neville said the industry should showcase successes and the importance of the industry.

“We have got to do a better job of just really elevating the importance of the industry and the value of the professional driver,” Neville said. “Everything that everybody gets is because of a truck driver.”

Story by Mitchell Schmidt @ Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

Tampa Bay Job & Career Fair – June 12, 2017


ReedTMS Logistics will begin the first of many stops on their Summer 2017 recruitment tour Tuesday June 13, 10 A.M. – 2 P.M at the The event is hosted by the Tampa Bay Times who reach more than 600,000 readers every day. To get an inside look into what ReedTMS is recruiting for checkout ReedTMS Career Openings .


  • The event will feature more than 50 local employers
  • Networking! Network as you obtain company information and business cards of the organizations that interest you.
  • Free Admission, Free Parking
  • No Pre-registration Required

Before You Attend :

  • Remember to wear proper business attire. First impressions count!
  • Bring at least 20 copies of your resume
  • Arrive with a positive attitude.
  • Research the websites of employers who will be attending.
  • Practice answering possible interview questions

Please stop by the ReedTMS booth and ask us what we can do for you! We look forward to seeing all of you and wish you good luck! For more information regarding the ReedTMS Summer Job Circuit please contact Andy Patel at 813.369.6235

Publix to offer delivery from all stores throughout the Southeast


If grocery shopping just isn’t a pleasure for you, Publix Super Markets Inc. will now do it for you — in all 1,100-plus stores throughout the Southeast.The Lakeland-based grocer said Wednesday that it will offer same-day delivery via Instacart in all Publix markets by 2020.

Publix rolled out Instacart delivery service with a pilot program in the Miami area in July 2016 and quickly expanded to the Tampa Bay region. It is now offered in major markets throughout Publix’s footprint and will expand to dozens of others in the next five months. (See list below.)

The Instacart delivery service has created 2,800 jobs, according to Publix.

“We selected Instacart because we knew their approach and expertise would deliver a high-quality experience for our customers,” said Laurie Douglas, Publix senior vice president and chief information officer, in a statement. “The overwhelming response of our customers has proven that Instacart and Publix are a strong and dynamic team. We are excited to take the next steps in building our unique relationship to dramatically grow the service in our markets.”

Publix has defined its relationship with Instacart as a “collaboration” and on Wednesday said it was “strengthening its relationship” with the app-based delivery service. The grocer promotes the Instacart service with signage throughout its stores and has a section devoted to the service on its website.


Publix’s relationship with Instacart sets it apart from Shipt, a similar app-based delivery service that began offering Publix delivery in 2015. Shipt has green-and-white branding that is similar to Publix’s own logo, but there is no formal relationship between the two.

Publix’s decision to offer delivery services from all of its stores represents a major investment and a watershed moment within the grocery industry. Publix is known in grocery and real estate circles for the data it collects and analyzes. Instacart also has the ability to mine data from customers, and the fact that Publix is doubling down on delivery means the Lakeland grocer sees a profitable future in the service.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger Co., Publix’s two biggest competitors, have been rapidly expanding their click-and-collect services, in which customers order online and have items brought directly to their cars.

The Instacart delivery service goes a step beyond that with home delivery, and it also sets Publix up to compete with Amazon.com, which is laying the groundwork to be a major player in the grocery realm, as well as Jet.com, the e-commerce company Walmart acquired in September 2016. Jet.com has a grocery platform that the company has been rapidly expanding throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Walmart is also piloting a program in New Jersey and Arkansas in which employees deliver items on their way home from work.
Here are the stores where Publix currently offers delivery:

Florida (Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Melbourne, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach), Georgia (Atlanta), South Carolina (Columbia), North Carolina (Charlotte, Durham and Raleigh) and Tennessee (Knoxville and Nashville).

The next five months will bring Publix delivery to Instacart in the following markets:
▪Alabama: Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile and Montgomery
▪Florida: Cape Coral, Crestview, Fort Pierce, Gainesville and Panama City
▪Georgia: Albany, Augusta, Macon and Savannah
▪North Carolina: Asheville, High Point, Wilmington and Winston-Salem
▪South Carolina: Charleston, Greenville, Hilton Head Island, Myrtle Beach and Spartanburg
▪Tennessee: Chattanooga
▪Virginia: Richmond

Story by : Ashley Gurbal Kritzer at the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

ReedTMS May 2017 Employees of the month!

Congratulations to Eric DeBrand and Osmel Figueroa, ReedTMS Logistics’ Employees of the month for May. Eric and Osmel both have an abundance of one trait TEAMWORK. They continuously are willing to help in areas where the business needs them and may be short staffed on occasional days.

Some of the comments as to why they were nominated are as follow:

“Osmel is one of our Florida local drivers. He is continually suggesting ideas for improvement. He trains all the new local drivers that come on board and then he voluntarily mentors them once they are out on their own.”

” If there is ever an issue with one of Osmels runs, he handles it with the up most professionalism and will stay out in the truck if needed. He has become one of the main drivers used on a new ReedTMS account and has done an upmost phenomenal job.”

“Osmel  always picks up and delivers on time. He trains new employees without hesitation and always has a positive demeanor.”

“Eric DeBrand is the ultimate team player by switching his schedule to accommodate us in our time of need.”

“Eric has recently come aboard and has an outstanding attitude. On top of this he is always willing to help employees in whatever they need and has even taken on additional responsibility to temporarily fill a need”

‘Eric is an amazing team player, but on top of that the guy simply knows what he is doing and gets it done at a high level without giving excuses”

Thanks for all you do Eric and Osmel, keep up the good work!

Growers Up Ante to Fight Citrus Disease

Asian citrus psyllids

California citrus growers are taking their fight against huanglongbing (HLB) and the Asian citrus psyllid to the backyards of California homes.

This week, the California State Assembly approved a bill that will allow the citrus industry to increase spending for activities to protect residential and commercial citrus trees from the invasive insect Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) and the deadly plant disease it can carry, huanglongbing (HLB). 

SB 243 by state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) allows for an additional $9.6 million in grower assessments to be spent by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) for ACP and HLB control programs.

Because assessment funds are collected by the Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program, which is managed by CDFA, the spending authority level for the program is granted by the Legislature.

SB 243 was passed unanimously by the Senate last week and the State Assembly followed suit on Monday. The governor is expected to sign the bill by the end of the month. 

The bill does not increase the assessment for growers who have been funding the fight against HLB. According to Alyssa Houtby with California Citrus Mutual, the money is excess collected over the past few years.

HLB-infected trees are being found at an alarming rate in residential areas in Los Angeles and Orange counties. In the past 12 months, the number of detections has more than tripled.

“It tells us it’s expanding, but also the program is working to discover those trees,” said Houtby. She said a dozen more infected trees were found in just the past couple of months, forcing an expansion of the quarantine area there.

Houtby said 60 trees in Los Angeles and Orange counties were removed because they have HLB. The disease carried by the psyllid, is deadly to citrus trees and there is no cure or preventive measures available to growers. On Thursday, CDFA announced it had confirmed HLB in Orange County. The disease was detected in plant material taken from a lemon tree in a residential neighborhood in La Habra and from three trees (two lemon and one grapefruit) in a residential neighborhood in Anaheim.

She said fortunately, the disease has not spread too far. “There is concern, in the scientific community, we may have HLB outside that area,” she cautioned.

Tulare County growers have been battling the psyllid since the first one was discovered here in late 2011. Thousands have been found — most dead on traps — but so far HLB has only been found in trees in southern Los Angels County and northern Orange County. HLB was first detected in the Hacienda Heights area in 2012.

“If ACP is left unchecked and HLB is allowed to take hold, it will be a death sentence for California’s $3 billion citrus industry,” says California Citrus Mutual (CCM) President Joel Nelsen.

“Our Central Valley senators and assemblymembers were instrumental in moving this legislation,” said Nelsen. “In particular, CCM would like to thank Senator Galgiani and Assemblymember (Devon) Mathis for championing the bill and communicating to their urban colleagues the seriousness of this issue to all citrus trees in California.”

The grower-funded Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Program was created through legislation in 2009 and authorized an assessment on growers. Growers have since invested over $100 million into the program, over 95 percent of which go to trapping, treatments and surveys in urban areas in order to stop ACP and HLB from devastating the California citrus industry as it has in other parts of the country and world. 

Houtby said the extra funds will be used to expand the current program to survey areas where HLB was found and to cover the cost of additional treatments in those areas. 

The program receives federal funding to augment HLB detection analyses and public communications efforts. The governor and legislature, however, have repeatedly denied industry requests for state funding.  

“Year after year, the issue has expanded and yet the state has remained a silent partner despite the industry’s investment and generous support from the federal government,” commented Nelsen. “With every new detection of HLB in the urban areas, California is one step closer to succumbing to the same fate as Florida, where their citrus industry has all but collapsed due to HLB. California still has an opportunity to stop HLB, but the state must be a partner if we are to be successful.”

California Citrus Mutual is currently seeking state funding in the 2017-18 budget.

“The state has until June 15 to pass its budget and we’re doing everything we can to make sure funding for ACP and HLB control is included,” said Nelsen.

Houtby said there have not been any significant finds of psyllids so far this year in Tulare County and no psyllids have been found in Madera County in more than a year.

Story by Recorderonline.com

ReedTMS Rednoseday

red nose dayYou’ve probably noticed a lot of photos of celebrities wearing red clown noses by now. It’s all part of a campaign dedicated to raising money for children and young people living in poverty by simply having fun and making people laugh.

Why is it now gaining popularity?

Simply put Social media rules modern marketing schemes. NBC and Twitter have helped the day take off in the United States. It serves a two-fold purpose for NBC Brand networks. It adds an opportunity to raise awareness for the childhood poverty social campaign and also helps build NBC’s Brand. “Live events are really, really important to this company. And this is one of those times when you get to do something that is great entertainment but also really stands for something.” Said Paul Telegdy of NBC.

When did it start in the USA?

The inaugural Red Nose Day was held in the US on May 21st, 2015. People across the country came together to have fun and raise funds and awareness. The day’s events culminated in a three-hour entertainment TV special on NBC featuring the country’s favorite comedians, musicians and Hollywood stars.

How much money has it raised and where can I donate?

According to the Red Nose Day website, it’s raised more than £78 million (about $122 million at current exchange rates).

You can donate at :  https://rednoseday.org/donate-splash

Who’s participating?

Outside of the hundreds of celebrities that you see online there are many large corporate companies that are involved. ReedTMS is one of many companies and charities that has taken up the cause to help raise awareness to end childhood poverty. The charities involved include Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Children’s Health Fund , Feeding America, the National Council of La Raza and the United Way are also involved.

Story By : Andy Patel at ReedTMS Logistics