By Traci Moyer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Samantha Hurley said driving a semi-truck for a living is not for everyone.
“It’s very demanding,” Hurley said. “And it is one of the most physically demanding jobs out there.”
But if you are looking to start a career in the trucking industry, she can help you get the training — for free.
“I will find the funding,” Hurley said.
Hurley is the director of driver resources for Carter Express Inc., 4020 W. 73rd St., Anderson, and said her goal is to put qualified applicants behind the wheel for her company.
That determination and willingness to provide employment opportunities is one of the reasons why Carter Express was recently named a 2013 recipient of the Ivy Tech Corporate College annual Corporate College Partner award.
Carter Express and Ivy Tech’s East Central Region have partnered to provide training through Sage Truck Driving School and employment for 287 drivers in the last four years, officials say. The partnership has secured funding for displaced and underemployed workers to pursue new careers in the transportation industry.
John Paugh, CEO and president of Carter Express, said it was nice to be recognized by the college and flattering to be honored by the school, but his company’s participation in the partnership is driven by demand.
“Our primary reasons were really selfish because we need the employees,” he said. “Nationwide, the American Trucking Associations estimates that we are short about 300,000 truck drivers. Of the 800 drivers we have, we have provided the training for a third of those.
“We are desperate to hire drivers. Not only can they be trained quickly, it is a very lucrative career with the starting salary about $40,000.”
According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA) reports, trucking continues to be a dominant mode of freight transportation and billions of tons of freight is transported across the nation each year.
In 2012, more than 9 billion tons of freight, which is about 68 percent of all domestic shipments, was transported by trucks, generating more than $640 billion in gross freight-related revenues. Both the number of tons transported and the revenue are up from 2011.
“As the nation continues to travel the road to recovery following the Great Recession it is becoming increasingly clear that trucking is leading the way,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in a statement by the association.
Paugh said the training is provided to those with zero experience in the industry, and together, Carter Express and Ivy Tech have been able to provide more than $4 million in economic opportunities for the local community.
With grants and federal funding, Ivy Tech has made $650,000 available to pay 100 percent of tuition costs for local driver training, and Carter has matched a portion of those funds with more than $350,000 devoted to tuition reimbursements.
“And we still have funds available to train people,” he said.
Jessica Paugh, assistant director of marketing for Carter Express, said the company is constantly hiring new drivers and the Ivy Tech partnership is essential to fill the ever-growing demand for drivers.
“Without drivers the trucks don’t move,” she said.
Hurley said truck drivers will work about 72 hours a week and experience a rotating sleep schedule to accommodate the different freight shipments.
“It’s mental and physical, and it’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week – it never ends,” she said. “But our drivers are home on a weekly basis. They are not out two to three weeks at a time and sometimes longer like other companies.”
She said the program with Ivy Tech allows students to finish a four-week truck driving program with no out-of-pocket costs.
“And you can make some serious money driving a truck,” Hurley said.
“The partnership award was for a company that has worked in a partnership with us to do really great things with the community,” said Keith Hamilton, a former account executive for Ivy Tech. “Carter is the company we chose to submit for Region 5.”
In addition to Carter Express, Ivy Tech selected six other companies in different regions for the college's annual partnership awards.
According to Ivy Tech, recipients for the Corporate College Partner award were selected based on the level of commitment by the organization in workforce training and development program, and other qualities.
This year, Carter Express officials said, they will train and hire more than 300 new truck drivers.
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Trucking across the nation • There are 6.9 million people employed in trucking-related industries. • The majority of trucking companies are small businesses - with more than 90 percent operating six or fewer trucks. Only about 2 percent of fleets operate more than 20 trucks. • Medium- and heavy-duty transportation vehicles traveled 137.2 billion miles in 2011 - up almost 5 percent from the previous year. • The trucking industry paid $36.5 billion in federal and state highway user fees and taxes in 2011 -- a 10.3 percent increase from 2009. Source: American Trucking Associations