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What Truck Drivers Need to be Successful in 2022

Learn about what truck drivers need to be successful in 2022 and beyond.

Episode 163: Trucking is the backbone of society and yet we have a driver shortage. Getting people to join the industry and stay in the industry continues to be an uphill battle. So, the question arises; what do truck drivers need in 2022?

My guest today is Bruce Outridge the Host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers.  

Headshot of Bruce Outridge, and The Lead Pedal Podcast logo. In this episode, learn about what truck drivers need to be successful in 2022 and beyond.

Bruce Outridge is a media entrepreneur with businesses ranging from illustration to radio, podcasting, and television. Bruce has been a professional cartoonist for over a decade, author of six books on business and leadership. Bruce is the producer and host of The Lead Pedal Podcast for Truck Drivers, Lead Pedal Radio Station, and the Inspiring Youth Television Show in Halton, Ontario, Canada.

Guest Website: TheLeadPedalPodcast.com

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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 keep trucks and trailers on the road longer while lowering cost-per- mile.

You’ve heard me say it before. Trucking is the backbone of society, and yet we have a driver shortage and getting people to join the industry and to stay in the industry continues to be an uphill battle. So we’re gonna try to tackle this today. And my guest today is Bruce Outridge. He’s the host of The Lead Pedal podcast for truck drivers. Bruce is a media entrepreneur with businesses ranging from illustration to radio, podcasting and television. And I have been so excited about having him on the podcast. So Bruce, welcome to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. So glad that you’re here.

Bruce Outridge:

Thanks for having me, Jamie, appreciate it. Looking forward to it.

Jamie Irvine:

So let’s get into it. What are the main problems the average truck driver is experiencing on a daily basis in 2022?

Bruce Outridge:

Do we start at the convoy at one end and work your way…no we won’t. You know, it’s amazing because I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and a lot of them are the same issues we were having 40 years ago. I think for a lot of it is people just wanna be treated properly, just like regular human beings, you know? So can I go to the washroom? It’s amazing that we are bring in some kind of law and legislation to let truck drivers go to the washroom. I think that’s amazing right there. Washroom, you know, a decent meal, a good night’s sleep, a safe place to park. These are all things that in 1979, 1980, we were wanting the same thing and they’re still on the table today. And you kind of gotta wonder what what’s going on. That’s from the driver’s side. And if you look at the maintenance side, wheel off, brake adjustments, are still the same problems that we’ve had for 30 and 40 years. So what are we doing about ’em? I’m not sure what the answer is. Those are still the same issues I’m hearing from drivers today.

Jamie Irvine:

One of the things that motivates people is when they have a full understanding of economic impact. So what are these kinds of issues actually costing drivers and the people that are running the fleets that employ the drivers?

Bruce Outridge:

From a fleet perspective, when you have places where they won’t allow them to use a washroom, or the driver’s gonna wait five hours to unload, the driver doesn’t wanna go back there, right? Because the driver is losing money, the driver is not treated like a person. So they want to go somewhere else. From a dispatch fleet operation, you get 20% of your fleet that says I’m not going to this customer, even if they’re a good paying customer, what do you do? Like you now have this whole, oh, Joe only goes here, and Fred only goes here and Wilma will only go here. And it turns into a nightmare for dispatch and something else. So getting it so that people can go kind of anywhere. We have to reduce the waiting time. Drivers should not be taking this on. And I know a lot of companies are changing the way they pay to accommodate that.

But a driver should not be having to suck up four hours of waiting time because the shipper receiver, somebody else is not on the ball. Our window times are two hours for, you know, especially in auto parts, they’re using us as mobile warehouses and that’s not the drivers, that’s not what we’re meant to do. We’re meant to be there on time, get there on time and deliver your freight and get us out of there. A good company, you wanna be out of there in an hour. So, you know, now this is where drivers are starting to go. You’ve got the kind of freight where I’m gonna be losing money. I’m starting to look elsewhere, especially with fuel prices going up, you know, if your owner operator, holy smokes at five bucks a gallon, you know, what are you gonna do with this? Right? Like how do you make money? Hopefully they’re getting this back through a surcharge, but not always.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, exactly. And you know, I remember seeing this social media post where this person who is not from the industry was kind of laughing at the assertion that the truck driver was working 14 hours a day. And it’s like, you don’t know what you’re talking about because once you have all that wait time added in there, it can be 14 hour days. And I know many truck drivers that that’s what they do six days a week sometimes. So you know, this is a lot of hours and if we continue to lose people, we’ve got 80,000 open positions in North America right now. I think maybe that’s actually just the US and then Canada on top of that, they’re saying that that could go as high as 160,000 open positions for drivers by 2030. So this is a big problem. We have to take care of the drivers. We need more people to come into the industry because once you’re in the industry and you get taken care of, it’s actually a great place to work.

Bruce Outridge:

It is. It is. And I mean, look at myself, you know, I’ve been in this industry, I drove for 25 years and I’m now not driving anymore, but I’m behind the mic. Still love this industry, love the people. And you can have a great life at this industry, but we’ve got older drivers who you know, might be leaving the industry. They’re a little disgruntled right now because of all the waiting time and the fuel prices and all those things we just talked about. They’re saying, don’t get into this industry. You can’t make money. I hear that almost daily yet you see somebody who’s doing very well and exceptional at it. You know, what is it? Is it their on a different route or is it different company or is it maybe just a different mindset? I don’t really know, but we need to get attraction to these younger drivers.

And I know right now there’s a big issue in the States, a big discussion going on about, do we start letting 18 year olds drive trucks and I’m gonna weigh in on that right now and say yes, because I was a 18 years old when I started driving a truck. And I think, I know there’s a lot of people who think that’s gonna be more dangerous on the road. I think with proper training, I’d rather have a 20 year old that has had some training and is watched as far as inspections and maybe has a safety person and all of that, watching them once in a while than someone who’s 20 and never, you know, got their license and never had to take a safety course after that. And doesn’t understand trucks, I’d prefer the other one on the road. They’re probably gonna be a safer driver.

Jamie Irvine:

And let’s face it. I mean, by the time you’re 21, in many ways, you’ve made choices that have set the course of your life. And by 21, you’ve been gobbled up by another industry and you may never then consider the trucking industry again. And I hear that all the time on the parts and maintenance side as well. And it’s like, we gotta get people to see that this is a great career opportunity. I mean, in Canada, if you get a four year bachelor’s the average salary of someone with a four year bachelor’s in Canada is $48,000 a year. You can make that after a couple years on the parts of repair side. So, I mean, this is an opportunity for many people to have mobility in their wage. I think also of women joining the industry, this is a great place for women to be able to make really above average income and, and erase the disparity between men and women, if you will, by doing the same jobs and getting paid the same way. So I see the opportunity, but it’s again, how do we get this information into the hands of the people that need it? And it comes down to us having these kinds of conversations.

Bruce Outridge:

Yeah. You know, it’s funny that you mentioned that, you know, in a couple years you can make the same money because that’s what happened to me. When I started my career, you’re starting out at 10 bucks, but it wasn’t too far in, when I was making $50,000 a year. And I don’t know how much $50,000 a year, but I remember that was what my dad made. And I said, if I make $50,000 a year, I’ve gotta be an adult, I guess, if you wanna call it that. And it was true, in my twenties, we’re making $50,000 a year going up and down the road. And my friends are trying to pay for school and working wherever they’re working to try and make ends meet. The downfall for me was later on in life because I’m a high school dropout so I left at 17 and got into trucking at 18. So I was making good money until I hit my thirties. And I started looking at management positions and other positions outside of the seat and realized that I may not have those qualifications. And I went back to school when I was 40 to get some of those qualifications. But what if we took those 18 year olds or the young person, put them in the seat and also kind of like when you’re in the army, you know, like you’re doing your job in the army, but you’re also kind of getting your university credits and I’m not sure how all that works, but I know there’s kind of a system in there for that, where you come out and you actually have your degree, what if we did that in trucking?

Hey, you know what? Get in when you’re, 20 years old, you know what, drive, and as you’re doing it, we’re gonna have you take a course a year. And when you come out of this at the age of 25, 26, you’re gonna have a degree in whatever, you know, it may be just a starting degree, but you’ll have your university degree or a college’s degree. You will also have made $50,000 every year. And now you can start looking at other options outside of the seat. And I think that’s what I haven’t seen in this industry. We haven’t seen the career path. We tell everybody, get in the seat, get in the seat, get in the seat, go to any recruiting program, get in the seat, come on, drive for us. For how long, 50 years, 60?I don’t wanna drive and I love trucking.

And for me, I thought 25 years was enough. For some reason, I said 45 years. I wanna get outta the seat. I don’t know why there was no other big plan other than just 45 seemed like an older number when you’re 20, 45 is old. Now that I’m 50, 58 is not that old. But you know, at that time I thought that was old and that was enough for me. So what are we showing? Look you and I both still in the industry after the seat and all of that kind of stuff. So there is a way, but you have to kind of get there first. And the seat was a great foundation. So I say, let’s bring them on early.

Jamie Irvine:

I agree. I agree. And that succession planning is so important. I see a real problem on the part side of the business because that’s, of course I’ve never been a driver, but I started working in a reman shop and, you know, started on the floor, sandblasting parts. And 10 years later, I had done every job in the company. I had been the operations manager and national sales account manager. How did I get those positions? Well, it’s because the management of that company was very proactive with the youth and anybody who showed any interest at all, they sent them to school, they gave them the opportunities to learn. They mentored them. And I’m very fortunate that I found a company that was like that most companies aren’t. And so I actually now at this point in my career, I’m working with parts companies who have 70 year old owners and their sons went to university and are now in, like, let’s say Silicon valley or something, or they’re doctors or lawyers or they’re educators. They want nothing to do with the trucking industry. And here dad’s going well, this is grandpa’s company that was started 70 years ago. He handed it to me and I’ve got no one to give it to. And it’s like how did we get there? Right. We got there because we didn’t start planning for this 25 years ago.

Bruce Outridge:

Yeah. And you know, there’s so many options. I mean, name another industry where you can start out in the seat or start out in the warehouse or wherever it is your starting, and have the option of going up the management chain. If that’s where you want to go, going into your own business, becoming an owner operator or becoming a separate garage or parts dealer, whatever it is you want to do. There’s not a lot of industries that offer that. You know you might go to, let’s say you’re working at McDonald’s. You might go up the chain of McDonald’s, but it’s a long ways before you could start your own franchise. Like there’s a big, you know, dollar bill payment in the middle there that you have to save up. I don’t know what it is for a million dollar franchise, but, you know, for trucking you can get in fairly easily, you know, for, you know, 50 grand you can get into this industry and get going if that’s your choice.

So there’s lots of options and that’s just a little bit of them, you know, there’s safety and recruiting and all the rest of the options that are available. So there’s tons of options for somebody that they can work in this industry. And the nice thing about this industry, which I keep telling people, there’s always work. I’ve never been outta work in trucking. I’ve never had to go, you know, work somewhere else and go, geez, I wonder if, sure there’s slow time. Sure there’s you know, odd things that happen. But for the most part, if you’ve got a decent record and you’re willing to go to work and you present yourself properly, you will not be out of a job. Those are not the ones that are out of a job, right? So those are, we need to attract people. We need to show that somehow. And I don’t know how well I’ve been trying. I know I’m trying on my podcast and you, you trying on your podcast, we need more podcasts. I don’t know. Trying more for sure.

Jamie Irvine:

We’re gonna take a quick break. We’ll be right back. Don’t have a heavy-duty part number and need to look up a part? Go to parts.diesellaptops.com or download the app on Apple or Android to create your free account. Looking for high quality fuel injection for heavy-duty applications? Having one supplier for fuel injection allows you to better serve customers by providing them with a complete line, which increases your sales and profitability. Learn more at ambacinternational.com/aftermarket. We’re back from our break. And before the break we were talking about what truck drivers need to be successful in 2022, by extension what does the industry need? Bruce, I’m so glad to have you here on the show, and I’d like to talk a little bit about your podcast, The Lead Pedal podcast for truck drivers. What motivated you to launch this show?

Bruce Outridge:

I was gonna launch a video channel and then I thought drivers shouldn’t be watching video. Back when I launched this eight, nine years ago, video training was becoming very hot. You know, everybody said, Hey, we can’t get our drivers into one room. So let’s set them up on video and they can watch videos and do their safety training. That was a big thing going on in the industry at that time and still is in some places. And I was thinking you know, I had started my art career when I left my, when I left a supervisor position in 2006, I started my art business up and so that was what I was kind of concentrating on. And 2009, I go, well, I got, you know, 25 years of knowledge in the industry, what can I do?

And so I’ve started doing some training, you know, work with some of the schools and I still do some of that. But I thought, you know, I’ve got a message to say. I’m like you, I wanna tell people how great this industry is. I’ve always been really passionate about careers and working hard and, you know, being the best you can be. And I’ve been an owner operator. I like business. So I said, you know, that’s where I focused on is business and careers and I got into it and I just I started it. I didn’t know what I was doing. Trust me. I started as a daily show. That’s the way it started. And I actually had to cut it back and then revamp again. Just thought, I didn’t know anything about podcasting or broadcasting, but just learned. And I thought, I just love this. And I love the fact that you didn’t have to worry about video. And here we are 750 episodes later. We’re still in the seat doing and expanding like crazy. So it’s a lot of fun.

Jamie Irvine:

That’s awesome. What is the promise of your show? Like you’re trying to attract drivers, what do they get out of listening to your show?

Bruce Outridge:

Hopefully some tips to grow their career, but that’s the main focus, right? Like we want you to have a better career. That’s why we’ve named it. The it’s pronounced lead, like you’ve been pronouncing it, but it’s spelled lead and that’s kind of a play on words. Right? We kind of say that, you’re going to grow in your career faster by listening to the information that we give you as if you had to listen to it yourself. So if you think of a driver, brand new doesn’t know anything, is trying to find the information from everybody. It’s gonna take you a long time. Whereas if you can go to one place and at least they have something for, you could say, I tried this trip and we try to do it through entertainment, you know, entertain people.

We try to have interesting guests, it’s focused on business and careers, but we talk about technology and safety and all those other things that people talk about, but we’re strong with carriers and that kind of thing. And I just want people to know we have a good career, like, you know just work, work your best. You know, I talk a lot about the 20% of a fleet and you know, that’s where the opportunities are. And I’m not saying, be a brown-noser and take the boss out to dinner and try to cheat your way to the top. Work hard, keeping your truck clean, being on time, you know, being willing to work, being willing to be a team player. These are all the things that are any truck driver can do because that’s what dispatch and everybody wants.

They want a team player and somebody who’s on time and taking care of the truck and all that kind of stuff. You get a person like that, trust me, the opportunities will follow you. And they did many times. I’ve worked for great companies over the years, both private and for higher carriers. And I’ve absolutely loved it. And I started in the moving industry and I still, I think that’s one of the greatest industries to start too. So I’ve had a great career. I’m trying to show that to other people and get them involved and hopefully they’ll have a great career and have a lot of work for the rest of their life.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, you’re absolutely right about those characteristics that are needed to succeed in our industry. As you were describing that, I have a friend, he’s now retired. He’s a retired driver, but when he was in his seventies, the carrier that he worked for that did grocery delivery was still bringing him out. Why? Because he kept the truck clean. He didn’t damage the truck by driving it too hard. He was on time. He was friendly and helpful with the customers. And so every chance they got, even though he was retired, they would phone him and say, Hey, can you cover this shift? Can you cover a shift? Half the time he was covering a shift for a 20-something who didn’t show up for work that day. So it’s like, you know, those things are time tested. They will always be valuable characteristics of any employee and employers are looking for that. So especially if you are in the trucking industry, those are the things you need to master.

Bruce Outridge:

Yeah. And I think that’s what we’ve stop showing them. Right? I don’t know about in the parts industry, but in the trucking part, you always got the oldest truck. You’re the new driver. I would say to people, walk to the very back fence of that yard, look at the truck. Unless it’s not plated, that is your truck. Are you willing to drive that? Are you willing to take that down the road? And then I would take that same truck and I would clean up to the best of my ability. I’m not afraid to polish a truck. It takes you three hours to wash a tractor trailer. I can tell you that, time and tested, but you know what happened is the company would keep moving you up. Oh Bruce, you know what? You’ve taken such good care of this truck. Here’s another newer truck. And you would do that through all of the companies. And I drove all the big Peterbilt’s and everything and it’s because I kept them clean to the point where the company was taking you to the dealership and say, Bruce, here’s your next truck with the dealer, with the leather seats and all that. Now I’m not saying that to brag. I’m saying that to show, I can see a progression in my career as I was a driver. I was getting better equipment, better runs, better opportunities, whatever. It may be sometimes better companies. Sometimes I had to make that leap and go to a different company, but I could see that progression and none of it’s to do with the money, the miles always follow. I never had a problem getting paid in the industry. Always the miles always follow. Look at the way we’re doing it today.

You go to most big fleet who can hire a new driver. All the trucks are the same. How do I know I’m moving up? Trucks are usually four years old or newer. So I’m not worried about, you know, having to prove myself to a better truck now, you know, so we’ve taken away some of those markers that people were able to build their career on to where now everybody’s the same. And it’s very hard to stand out of a fleet of 1500 trucks if every truck is the same, you’ve got lots of time to get there. And the boss doesn’t see your truck. Like, I mean, where’s the markers now? What are we just waiting for the next pay increase? I don’t know the way it is in parts. You probably had something similar. You may not have realized it, but you probably had something similar. Right?

Jamie Irvine:

Well, I know that, yeah, I mean, we all start as young parts people, we were stuck on the counter or we’re in the back warehouse or wherever we were. And we always wanted to move up and maybe get to have our own, not even our own office, could we just share an office with someone else? I remember the first time that I got to share an office with someone else, I was so excited to not have to stand in that cold warehouse at the counter at the back of the building. So there’s definitely, there’s so many similarities and parallels between the different, like it’s one industry, the trucking industry, but inside of it, there’s all of these different ways to play a role, parts, repair, drivers. So, you know, warehousing all of that and there’s so many parallels.

Bruce Outridge:

Yeah. It’s amazing to see. And that is what we need to show people, because you can so many different ways. You and I have decided to go into media, but I know friends who are doing very well, they’ve gone to insurance and we all started in the seat. You know, I tell people, you only have to go in the seat for a couple years, understand the industry that you’re about to get into. And if you don’t like driving, no one’s telling you to drive. Just get it there for a couple years, get your license so you can be authentic and people understand that you understand what a truck is and then move to wherever you wanna be. Go to operations. I got a friend now. He used to drive with us at the company. He went into management. Now he owns a Chrome shop. Like, I mean, and it fits, you don’t go, oh geez, how come you got a chrome shop if you’ve never driven a truck. You go, this guy used to keep his truck immaculate. I couldn’t take another person and say you’re a better fit for a chrome shop than the guy who’s running it because I know the way he used to keep his trucks. And that was long before he thought of chrome shops or management or anything. So that’s the kind of thing I think we need to show people today and I don’t know how we do it. The young people, some, they don’t seem to, I know a lot of ambitious young people, so I always afraid to say that, but somehow we’ve got to get some people more ambitious and into the industry and maybe showing them that there’s an opportunity. There is one way to do that.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah. It’s easy for us to forget that when we were teenagers, there was lots of unambitious teenagers back then as well. But what I see is I just see that there are the other industries, especially tech, some of the other industries like that have just done a better job of recruiting and of showing people the value of being in their industry. But here’s the thing, young people, anyone who’s younger than me, who’s just starting out their life. I want you to do what I did when I was your age, which is don’t go to the industry where everybody you know is flocking to because guess what? There’s not gonna be very many jobs and there’s gonna be lots of competition. Find the industry where they’re just asking and begging for people to come. Because now there’s so much opportunity and you’re gonna find that you’re gonna accelerate your career way faster than if you’re fighting for every scrap in an industry that has too much supply on human capital.

Bruce Outridge:

And the industry we have, it’s a lovely industry, but there’s so many things that can be improved in our industry, even though it’s a good industry. So you don’t have to be the super shining shining star to really make a difference in our industry. Like you come in and if you’re on time, keep care of your equipment, you know, present yourself in a presentable way, treat people the way you wanna be treated. That’ll take you so far in our industry. If you think of finance, the investment, if you ever see The Wolf of Wall Street, like there’s no way I’m working in there. You know, tech is the same way. They’re sexy industries. You make a lot of money, but you know what? You also see them usually two years later, there’s somebody who’s about to jump off a cliff, you know, or something like that.

Or tech goes away really fast, but you know, transportation is stable. We should be showcasing, the leaders of some of companies like Rosedale, they’re the ones challenged. They started with one truck, they built it up to 1500. They’ve been in business forever. They’ve got good names in the industry. We need to showcase those. How did those guys do it? You know, because everybody thinks they wanna be a Mark Zuckerberg, but you know what, you’re not going to be, you know, he just got lucky with Facebook, right. So, you know, everybody wants to be that because it’s big rich money and you own an island, but that’s not the real world for most of us.

So I think getting into something that you really enjoy doing, whether it be driving or parts or fixing, mechanics, those kind of things. And then really like, how can you really take that to the next level and showcase and make it your own? I’ve got a friend. We talk about personal branding. I’ve always had a good name in this industry. Some of the carriers I used to drive for, I now go back and do safety training or whatever for, so I’ve had a good name. Yeah. I made my mistakes. Trust me. There’s been all kinds of mistakes along the way. Things that I wish I could do over, but for the most part, I was on time, I kept my truck clean, I presented myself well, the same five things, keep going over and over and over again,

Jamie Irvine:

You’ve been listening to The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine. We’ve been speaking with Bruce Outridge the Host of The Lead Pedal podcast for truck drivers. To listen to the podcast, head over to the leadpedalpodcast.com, links are in the show notes. Bruce, thank you so much for being on The Heavy-Duty Parts Report. And thank you for helping me challenge the status quo in the trucking industry.

Bruce Outridge:

Thank you. It’s been a lot of fun. We didn’t talk parts though. Aren’t we supposed to? We’ll do that on my show. Thanks very much, Jamie. I’ve absolutely loved it. Appreciate it.

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