ST. LOUIS — It's no secret the trucking industry is struggling.
In 2021, the American Trucking Associations reported that the trucking industry was short more than 80,000 drivers, a historic high.
But St. Louis companies that responded to a Business Journal survey seem to have it figured out, reporting an 8% increase in local drivers over 2021, on average. This number represents about 124 drivers added locally over the prior year.
Experts at ATA report that the national shortage is due to factors like lack of work-life balance and lower pay. For St. Louis-based trucking company Vega Transport LLC, which has increased its local driver count by 4% since 2021, part of recruiting and retaining drivers is making sure they get enough "home time," or time in their home cities.
We sat down with Nick Sinanovic, president of Vega Transport, to hear about the firm's growth and his thoughts on where the industry is headed in the next few years.
What's the biggest trend impacting the industry?
That would be the driver shortage, the lack of drivers. Every industry has faced shortage of employees, but the trucking industry has always been in a difficult situation, even pre-COVID-19. After COVID, it's even worse finding qualified, trained truck drivers. I would say that's number one issue.
Your firm saw an increase in drivers from 2021 to 2022. What are you doing to continue to recruit drivers?
We started Vega Transport back in 2005 on the premise to give our drivers better home time. Our focus was on how we could bring people home. They don't want to live on the road. They have to do their work away from their home, but they don't want to necessarily spend a month at a time on the road.
We designed the system where St. Louis is our main hub, so we're primarily looking for shipments in and out of St. Louis. But we're also at the same time giving them miles. We do send them out to Florida and Pennsylvania, but we bring them back instantly to St. Louis. We don't let them bounce around the country before they get to go home. That was really a big differentiator.
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