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Going Places: The Transportation Industry
by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Crete Carrier and USAA

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Transportation Industry For A Civilian CareerIf your wheels are turning about whether there are healthy numbers of jobs in the transportation industry, rest assured:

We’re talking thousands.

And, it’s not just thousands industry-wide - sometimes, it’s thousands at just one corporation.

Why such a robust outlook? Two factors are at work, says Dr. Laurence Shatkin, author of “150 Best Jobs Through Military Training.”

“There are openings because of turnover in all fields. And also, there are openings because the Boomers are retiring,” Shatkin says. “The other major thing to keep in mind is the reason this is a good match for veterans: The military moves a lot of stuff around. It is engaged in transporting things. So you may have relevant skills. Even those who are not in the transport area directly are used to a fair amount of paperwork. Transportation involves a lot of that, also. There’s a hierarchy in transportation careers, which is also a good match. There is a certain level of comfort here.”

Rob Reich is vice president of Driver Recruiting and Maintenance Operations at Schneider National Inc., which has services spanning logistics, supply chain logistics management and transportation. Reich joined Schneider after exiting the Army in 1992 as a first lieutenant in the Signal Corps. He had never considered the transportation industry for a civilian career and came to Schneider through a placement firm. He was surprised at the similarities to the military.

“What I enjoyed about the military was an environment of achievement and hustle, and the opportunity to work with people to accomplish something. The nature of transportation is similar: We are a logistics organization, and the military relies on logistics. I felt a strong connection,” Reich says. “Transportation had all the things I loved - the camaraderie, the mission focus - and I’m not sure I would find that in many other places in the civilian world.”

Hiring Numbers

Currently, there is “a huge shortage” of truck drivers nationally, says Cheryl Freauff, driver recruiting manager at TMC Transportation. Last year, TMC hired 500 military veterans as drivers, and it expects to hire the same number in 2014, says Freauff, who is also a former U.S. Marine. Other companies project their hiring at similar high numbers: Crete Carrier will hire about 3,000, and Schneider is eyeballing more than 2,000.

The driver turnover standard nationwide is 90 percent, says Crete corporate recruiter Judi Shoup, but Crete averages a turnover rate of 42 percent. Even though Crete’s turnover rate is lower, “it’s still a concern,” Shoup says. “If we see the percentage go up even half of a point in one month, it’s always cause for concern. The biggest problems we have are things that are not controllable factors.”

Given the high demand for drivers, Shoup suggests finding a company whose goal is your contentment. “At all terminals I’ve visited in our company, the employees get along well. Managers have been good at fostering a teamwork environment. Our modern equipment and facilities - having the latest and greatest - has people happy, too,” she says.

On the railroad side, CSX Transportation will hire up to 1,000 veterans in 2014, says Steve Toomey, CSX Talent Acquisition. CSX’s intermodal business “has exploded,” Toomey says. The company has put in eight new terminals or has upgraded existing ones. “Intermodal is this: Trucks used to carry loads the whole way. Now for the most part, they take them to a railroad terminal, drop them at intermodal, we transport, and then the trucks pick them up in the other town,” he explains.

“We hire a variety of people; we don’t want just young people in the workforce. When it comes time to retire, we don’t want them all to leave at the same time. So we’re hiring everyone: middle managers and others with 20 years in the military who are starting a new career,” Toomey says.


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