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Voice of the Driver: What We Learned from the 2020 OTA Driver of the Year Nominees


Are you satisfied with the quality of your drivers? Or do you struggle to recruit and retain qualified and competent people?

We know that nearly every trucking company in America could use some help with attracting high-quality drivers. That’s why we paid a visit to the Ohio Trucking Association’s (OTA) annual Driver of the Year banquet.

We interviewed the finalists to learn what makes them successful as drivers and why they’ve decided to stick with their company for so long. The information they provided us just might help you solve your driver problem.

A Notch Above The Rest

The OTA Driver of the Year Award was hosted on April 2nd, 2021. Twelve veteran and accomplished drivers competed for the award with Nicholas Delzeith of Clopay Transportation taking home the honors.

Delzeith has been a professional driver for 38 years and has driven over 3.8 million safe miles. The others are right up there with him.

These twelve drivers have driven for their carriers an average of eleven years. They have spotless records, great attitudes, look for opportunities to go above and beyond for their carriers, and help recruit more drivers for their company.

We know you could use folks like them driving for you.

So, what keeps these all-stars behind the wheel and off the job market? In our interviews, we found a few common-denominators:

  • Great company culture and leadership
  • Updated and well-maintained equipment
  • A company focus on safety

Do You Have a Great Culture But Still Struggle to Recruit?

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of these interviews, maybe you feel as though your company checks all those boxes. Why do you still struggle to recruit top-tier talent, then? It could be that you need a more effective way to advertise to qualified candidates.

Our new product DriverAsk makes it easy for you to capture video testimonials from your drivers and use them in your recruiting efforts. With DriverAsk, you can:

  • Capture dozens of video testimonials in a few minutes
  • Never pull a single driver off the road into the office
  • Create compelling and believable ad content

You’ll be able to create video ads that get more clicks and stand out from the crowd.

Drivers Care About Company Culture And Leadership

It’s a drivers’ market. Even new or unqualified drivers have their pick of the company they want to drive for. The fact is, you need your drivers more than they need you. As such, the best drivers are picky about their carrier. They want a company with great management, a positive culture, and a driver-centric mindset.

In fact, all of the drivers we interviewed mentioned they stick with their current company because of how they’re treated.

Jason Imhoff, who’s driven for Walmart Transportation for 18 years, said,

“You’re not just a number at Walmart. They’re a family-oriented company. Respect for the individual is one of our core values and that’s what sets Walmart apart from other companies.”

David Wolford echoed similar sentiments. As a driver for Continental Express for 17 years, he said,

“Continental has always been very family-oriented. They’ve always been driver-focused. It’s not what you can do for the company - it’s what the company can do for you.”

We’ve seen time and time again that while pay, hometime, and benefits are important to drivers, drivers care more about how they are treated. Afterall, you probably have a similar set of offerings as the competition down the street, right?

If you want to attract and retain the best of the best, you need to create a driver-centric culture.

The Best Drivers Want The Best Equipment

One way to attract and retain high-quality drivers is to offer them high-quality equipment.

The drivers you want are looking for a company that invests in new equipment such as trucks, trailers, and driver assist technology.

Many of the drivers interviewed said what they appreciate about their company is how new and well-maintained the equipment is. Nicholas Delzeith, the award-recipient, said,

“We have the best equipment, the best upkeep of the equipment. If we have any problems, we bring it to their attention and everything’s taken care of.”

Daniel Clark of Classic Carriers specifically mentioned that none of the trucks are older than 2018 and none of the trailers are older than 2017.

“They’ve switched over to 95% all automatic transmission. They have cameras in the truck so that if anything happens you don’t have to worry about the motorist say-so,” Clark said.

Nearly all of the drivers we interviewed mentioned similar examples. They made it clear that they look for a company with new trucks, back-up cameras, event video recording devices, lane assistant technology, and a good maintenance crew.

If you’ve read any of our past blogs, you know how we feel about some of this equipment. This technology doesn’t often reduce your accident numbers. However, if the best drivers want it, investing in new driver equipment can improve your retention and recruiting efforts.

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Safe Drivers Want to Drive For a Safe Company

What sets these drivers apart from other professionals are their spotless records. They are extremely safe, defensive, and cautious drivers. They get the job done without causing you any more headaches from unsafe behavior.

However, for these drivers, it needs to work both ways. They stay with their respective companies because their companies prioritize driver safety.

Delzeith mentioned that he likes driving for Clopay Transportation because

“They run strictly legal and by the book.”

Similarly, Imhoff of Walmart Transportation mentioned,

“Walmart’s number one thing is that you return home safely. We preach slow down and be safe.”

Some of the drivers mentioned that they appreciate the training they receive from their company as well.

If you want to attract and retain all-stars, you should consider investing in defensive driving training like A-Fleet or LLLC Certification. They will see the effort you put towards reducing accident numbers and realize they can’t get it better anywhere else.

The Best Drivers Want to Drive for The Best Companies

If there’s one thing to take away from the OTA this year, it’s that to hire stand-out drivers you need to be a stand-out company. Create a driver-centric culture from the top down. Invest in new equipment for your drivers. Prioritize driver safety over productivity. If you create a company culture like this, you’ll be able to compete for hiring all-stars.

Of course, you won’t hire your high-quality fleet if you don’t get the word. That’s why you should invest in a driver testimonial product like DriverAsk. Your ads will stand out from the crowd and the best of the best will be applying to you instead of your competitors.

Download our E-Book: How To Create A Driver Career Path

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