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March 12, 2013

Long hauls, short-handed: Local, state trucking companies having trouble finding, keeping good drivers

SELLERSBURG — It’s hard to find good help these days, and no one knows it better than Brandon Briscoe. 

Briscoe is vice president of sales and operations at Talon Logistics, a Sellersburg-based trucking company. Talon first hit the road in 2003, and it now has about 120 employees. It could have a lot more, though. 

Talon is just one of numerous area trucking companies with open positions it can’t fill because of a lack of willing, qualified candidates. 

“We’re always having trouble finding quality drivers,” Briscoe said. 

Across the state, 1,200 open trucking positions remain unfilled, while between 20,000 and 25,000 drivers are needed nationally, Barry Miller, director of safety for the Indiana Motor Truck Association, recently told the South Bend Tribune. An American Trucking Association study released this year claims that 90 percent of for-hire truckload carriers cannot find enough drivers who are capable of meeting Department of Transportation requirements. 

And for companies like Talon, simply meeting DOT requirements isn’t enough, which further complicates the search. 

“We’re pretty strict on our regulations on who we’re going to get — to get a guy who can really give the service you want to portray and represent your company out there,” Briscoe said. “It makes it kind of difficult right now, and it seems to get tougher and tougher each month to get that. I mean, capacity on the whole has really tightened up, especially in the last few weeks.”

Jeffersonville-based Mr. “P” Express is taking a proactive approach to finding drivers. It offers a 160-hour training course that prepares new drivers for entry-level trucking positions, and it’s not shy about trying to get the word out. 

“We recruit drivers through television, through newsprint, through word of mouth — various means to get people who are unemployed, who are displaced through attrition or companies downsizing,” said Mr. “P” President Cindy Collier. “You’d be surprised at the people we have who come through the school that simply don’t have work and they decide, ‘You know what? I’m going to drive a truck.’ 

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Andrew Reid, 4, and Kaiden Jarboe, 4, head back to their parents after gettin as many Easter eggs as they could at an egg hunt on Saturday at Colgate Park. About 6,000 eggs were laid out for the children.

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