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Recruiting and Retaining Technicians in the Trucking Industry

Learn what we can do as an industry to recruit and retain technicians.

Episode 166: The trucking industry is the backbone of society. Those of us who have been working in the trucking industry know how great it is but that isn’t the case with many people in the general public. We are currently experiencing a lot of shortages for positions like drivers and technicians. Today we are going to focus on how do we recruit and retain more technicians?

My guest today is Stacy Earnhardt, the Vice President of Asset Management and Specialized Services at Best Logistics Group. 

Stacy Earnhardt headshot, and TMC Logo. In this episode, learn what we can do as an industry to recruit and retain technicians.

Guest Website: TMC.Trucking.org

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Transcript of Episode:

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And this is the show where you get expert advice about heavy-duty parts that keeps trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per-mile.

The trucking industry is the backbone of society. This is something that we’ve said repeatedly on the show. We genuinely believe it. And those of us who’ve been working in the trucking industry, we know how great it is, but it isn’t the case that everyone has an awareness of just how great the trucking industry actually is. In fact, many in the general public really don’t even see the trucking industry. So we’re currently experiencing a lot of shortages. There’s shortages of drivers, repair technicians, parts technicians. And we really want to try to get more people interested in joining this great industry. So today we’re gonna focus on how to recruit and how to retain people in the industry. And my guest today is Stacy Earnhardt, the Vice President of Asset Management and Specialized Services at Best Logistics Group. Stacy, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Stacy Earnhardt:

Yeah. Thanks for having us appreciate it.

Jamie Irvine:

So we’re here at TMC. We’re in Orlando, Florida. The industry has come together and we’re here to solve common problems. So does the trucking industry, do you think, do you think it’s got a bit of an image problem?

Stacy Earnhardt:

Well, yeah, I mean, I do. I think if you look back through history, there’s a lot of negative images of trucking, right? Beginning days trucking was the job people wanted and it started families that way. And we’ve got into this negative stuff, but then today, if you think after COVID or during COVID, we have some positive images coming out of that. And so I personally think now’s the time we gotta grab those and continue to grow and strengthen those images of who the industry really is.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And I think too, when we talk about like negative images, there’s some stereotypes about trucking, and we think we need to get past that. So in your opinion, how can we recruit more people in the industry?

Stacy Earnhardt:

Well, I think as you start correcting those images, right, today’s technician isn’t the guy rolling in grease and just dealing with that type stuff. Right now today’s technician has to be as computer savvy as any person in multiple industries. So as you change those images and for technicians and for drivers, right, today’s driver is not what we needed the driver to be 20, 30 years ago. So I think it’s getting that image to the public, getting that image, I think to the parents of the high schools and to the career development people and guidance counselors in the school will help us get those image just the way we need ’em and the way they deserve to be for what the industry is.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And I’ve had the privilege of working on the part side, and I’ve worked with a lot of repair technicians and known a lot of drivers. And there is a shift in the type of person that is needed in the industry. So once we’ve successfully recruited someone into the industry, what can we do to make sure that we retain them? Because I’ve heard some statistics recently at these meetings here at TMC, that we’ve only really made a 1% increase in retention since pre-COVID. So we’ve gotta do a better job of retaining them. How are we gonna do that?

Stacy Earnhardt:

Well, I think there’s a lot of steps in retention. There’s career paths and there’s ways to show how an individual can continue to improve in a company and grow step A. But step B, it goes back to infrastructure. It goes back to traffic and the roads and all the stuff that people have to deal with on the roads. Us being able to educate our technicians and show them the money and the values that we believe and invest in them to make them better, looking at the steps of what’s next. I think that’s kind of where society is today is what’s next, but you have to make the road better to get to those next steps.

Jamie Irvine:

That makes a lot of sense. We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back.

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We’re back from our break. And before the break, we were talking about some of the challenges that the trucking industry is facing and in attracting the right people to the industry and retaining them once we get them there. But we’re here at TMC, it’s annual meeting. This is all about bringing the trucking industry together and helping us to really collaborate, to solve some of these big issues. When you think about being at this meeting, what’s your favorite part of being here?

Stacy Earnhardt:

Oh, to me, it’s actually being here. It’s the comradery of all the people and all the different walks of life that are here as far as like, whether it’s Allied Associates and parts and that type stuff or fleets or all the different countries that are here, you know, so it’s that whole vibe and the comradery you get from being here together is for me, that’s what drives it.

Jamie Irvine:

I agree with you. Totally. It’s been so exciting to get back here, to have the industry come together and really be able to just spend some time to talk about some of these important things, to see old friends, to make new friends like you and I are doing right now. And to build upon that each time we come together like this, we can build and move forward. So I agree with you a hundred percent. When you become a member of TMC or the Technology and Maintenance Council, what do you get out of that?

Stacy Earnhardt:

Well, what you get outta TMC is what you put in TMC, right? So being a volunteer organization, you can come to these meetings and you can get some education and you can walk outta here as just investing your time. If you really want to get deeper involvement, deeper understanding of TMC and the goods of all the people in the TMC, you have to be involved. So getting in the Task Force and understanding how the RPs are made, that’s where it starts.

Jamie Irvine:

Right? So those Task Forces are responsible for generating RPs, which are recommended practices. And so really what’s great about this in my opinion, is that it doesn’t matter what area that you work in the trucking industry, all the way from a driver, right up through to the repair side, to the part side, manufacturing, all of it, there’s a spot that’s right. And I agree the more that you put into it, the more you get out of it. It’s wonderful. So if you just wanna leave our audience with just one thing, what’s the one thing you want them to remember about today’s conversation?

Stacy Earnhardt:

So I think the misconception of TMC is the time invested. Everyone feels or believes that you have to invest a ton of time to get involved in Task Force and study groups and mini techs and all that, or even board members, but that’s not a hundred percent true. Right. There is certainly time involved and certain study groups will have more than others, but I think membership needs to better understanding of the time involved is not life-changing. It is well worth it. And it’s how the organization exists.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. And I mean in some ways it can be career-changing, but it’s not going to consume so much time that you won’t be able to like for example, have enough time for family or something like that. It’s not so all-consuming, but again, it’s all about what you put into it. And so you put a little in and you’re gonna get a lot back.

Stacy Earnhardt:

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah.

Jamie Irvine:

So you’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. And we’ve been speaking with Stacy Earnhardt, the Vice President of Asset Management and Specialized Services at Best Logistics Group. To learn more about TMC, visit tmc.trucking.org, links will be in the show notes. Stacy, thank you for bringing on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report.

Stacy Earnhardt:

Yeah, I appreciate it.

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