Hearing From Those Who Love The Job...by Jana Ritter - Published: 4/26/2013
There was once a time when the cowboy, rogue on the road lifestyle of long haul driving appealed to young men. But today, more and more of the young driver demographic are objecting to the lifestyle of a job that keeps them away for weeks or even days at a time.
As an entire generation of truck drivers are nearing retirement, both the US and Canada are having difficulty replacing them and facing a growing truck driver shortage as a result. According to the Conference Board of Canada the problem is only getting worse with a projected shortfall of 25,000 drivers or more by 2020. The struggling to recruit and retain enough skilled commercial truck drivers to keep their rigs on the road, industry leaders in both countries are engaged in a concerted effort to make trucking a more appealing career choice.
Mark Seymour, president of Kriska based in Prescott, Ont., concedes there is no getting around the fact that trucking involves “lifestyle compromises”. But he also knows that those who are qualified and willing to make the commitment, will never be out of work and make good money as well. “It is tough to find good jobs these days, and the average truck driver can easily make $60,000 or $65,000 a year,” Seymour said. Kriska's top tractor-trailer drivers can pull in upward of $80,000 annually. Now imagine those perks along with actually liking the job.
David O'Neill is living proof that this ideal combination can exist…he loves life as a trucker. After spending the first five years of his working life in a factory, earning good money but suffocating from boredom, he loves the idea of not knowing where his trucking job will take him next. He also loves what his employer, Kriska Transportation, offers in opportunities for development. After quitting his factory job five years ago and starting in a brand new field of work with Kriska, O'Neill has never looked back.
In addition to the deliveries taking him to cities all over North America, O'Neill now takes new hires on the road for one-on-one training sessions in the 18-wheeler as well. Traveling primarily through the United States, sleeping in the rig at rest stops - he sees it as having a home away from home no matter where he's at. “I have a fridge, a microwave, I bring my own food from home, so it is pretty much an apartment on wheels that I bring around with me,” O'Neill said.
Even better, is that the job he enjoys and gets paid well for doesn't even keep him away from home as much as some would think. In fact, Kriska Transportation is like many of the top industry employers today - scheduling around their drivers' priorities. For O'Neill whose priority is his young family, his trucking job still gets him home every weekend to spend quality time with them.