According to Bob Nielsen, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders, more than 1.4 million residential construction jobs were lost between April 2006 and October of last year. Timothy Wagner, who used to own a painting company, went from picking and choosing which jobs he wanted to not having any at all when the housing and construction market crashed. After a few years of trying to make ends meet, he decided to look at a new career path – this time as a professional driver in the trucking industry. Wagner’s search led him to Prime Inc., where he has been a driver since January.
“I didn’t go to college, so I knew that my options might be limited,” explains the 42-year-old. “I was looking for steady work that I could do and a trucking job seemed like the logical answer. It’s nice now to get a paycheck without having to chase my money down myself.”
The American Trucking Association (ATA) is conducting a national driver recruitment campaign in order to employ a Global Insights, Inc. predicted shortage of 111,000 drivers by 2014 in the trucking industry. The campaign focuses on increasing its pool of driver applicants by appealing to people like Wagner who are looking to embark on a second career.
The ATA estimates that at the current trends, the driver shortage could balloon to as much as 239,000 drivers by 2022. In addition, the ATA estimates that 96,178 drivers will be needed every year over the next 10 years to account for the shortage. The transition of individuals from other industries into trucking can play a large role in bridging the gap on the driver shortage.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employment in the construction industry remains at low levels because of the 2007-09 recession, and employment in most construction occupations is not expected to reach pre-recession levels. The most recent Engineering News Record Construction Industry Confidence Index (CICI) survey shows the construction industry’s uncertainty. The second-quarter 2012 CICI fell six points from the first quarter to 50 on a scale of 100, which represents a flat market. The 378 executives of large construction and design firms responding to the survey believe the market will not begin to show signs of growth until the end of 2013.
As for the current market, 32% of industry execs polled believe it is still in decline, while only 17% believe it is growing. Only 25% believe the market will be growing within the next six months, while an equal number believe it still will be in decline. However, 51% believe the market will be on the upswing by the end of 2013, compared to only 8% of respondents who believe the market will continue to be in decline in 12 to 18 months.
For Wagner, the decline in the construction industry meant seeking out a second career. He researched several trucking companies online before deciding on driving for Prime. He found that the company had the stability he needed with consistent freight and competitive pay.
“Jumping careers at this point in my life wasn’t something I planned on, and I wanted to get the best grasp on it that I could,” he says. “What really got me was that Prime had better training pay that anyone else. Their training program is longer, but that’s exactly what I needed since I was starting from scratch.”
Prime is known for its commitment to drivers and being a family-oriented company. It wasn’t too long into his work with Prime when Wagner discovered exactly what that meant. His brother passed away suddenly and Prime not only made it possible for Wagner to go home immediately, but the company gave him as much time as he needed to grieve the loss.
“I was worried about getting time off because I hadn’t been working here that long, but Prime was more than gracious,” Wagner explains. “The first thing they said to me was, ‘family first.’ They said I had a job to come back to whenever I was ready and I respect that.”
The professional driver’s schedule has taken some time for Wagner and his family to get used to, but they all agree that the benefits far outweigh the change in lifestyle. With one daughter in college and another one in high school, working for Prime allows Wagner and his wife Claudia to continue enjoying their New Jersey home and plan for the future.
“You have to be prepared because it is not only a job, but it’s truly a lifestyle,” he adds. “Once you’re ready, you make the commitment and go at it full force. There’s no half doing this job.”
Opportunities for both company drivers and independent contractors are currently available at Prime, which offers incentives designed to promote safety, on-time service, fuel consumption, tractor maintenance and training. .
Posted on January 31, 2013
by Edwin Davidson