Planting Seeds for Bright Futures and Big Opportunities
Professional truck drivers Sheryl Lanier and Tracy Hamilton talk about their new positions as driver experts (how we describe our recruiters), how Transport America attracts professional drivers dedicated to safety, and how the company actively maintains good relationships with its drivers.
Who, you may ask, could be better at hiring drivers than former drivers?
Sheryl “Georgia Girl” Lanier recently transitioned from her position as a driver instructor for Transport America to become the newest member of the Transport America Driver Expert Team, where she helps place prospective drivers into Transport America’s fleets. Before her instructor position, she drove over-the road for ten years.
She loves working with other members of the team, and knew before she transitioned that the driver experts were committed to developing a positive experience for potential drivers.
“Many new drivers would rave about the company’s driver experts who interviewed. The new hires told me so when they came to orientation,” she said. “The drivers really loved their experience, and I knew it was a job I wanted to do.”
Tracy Hamilton, from Independence, Missouri, started as a driver expert in the spring of 2017 after 18 years on the road. She spent two years driving with Transport America after 16 years with other companies. Along with Sheryl Lanier, she is one of the newest members of the Transport America driver expert team.
Being a driver expert allows Tracy to work from home. She enjoys the change because she can spend more time with her family, including her two-year-old grandson, Kyle.
“He’s a great joy in my life,” Tracy says. “Transport America has afforded me the ability too see him more often.”
Both are committed to making sure prospective drivers are a good fit for Transport America’s fleets.
Sheryl explained that she spends between 30 to 45 minutes at minimum talking to each potential driver to understand their unique life story and family situation. During that time, she often addresses any expectations the driver may have concerning his/her role within the company.
“I like to tell them within ten or fifteen minutes of the conversation that I was, I am, a truck driver,” says Sheryl, who explains that it was really hard to leave the road for a desk job.
“I really love driving. I mean, it’s my passion,” says Sheryl. “I loved representing Transport America on the road. Talking about the company and what they’ve done for me with other drivers at truck stops. But the more I do this, the more I’ve come to realize that I can still live that passion – through the eyes of the drivers with whom I talk each day. I can still live that dream and help other drivers find a better place – Transport America – to pursue their profession.”
“I had a call from a prospective driver the other day who was very skeptical,” said Tracy. “When I told him that I had driven with Transport America for two years, I think it assured him that I wasn’t going to lie to him to get him through the door.”
“Sometimes, I think recruiters from other companies don’t tell drivers the facts,” added Sheryl. “They sugar-coat pay and miles. We don’t. We want to be sure our drivers clearly understand what Transport America offers and be sure our drivers are a good fit.”
What qualities are Sheryl, Tracy and the other Driver Expert team members at Transport America looking for in a new driver?
To them, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, as long as you’re a professional and a safe driver.
Focusing on What Matters
“A lot of drivers who come from other companies, I think, don’t feel very appreciated for their work,” Sheryl said. “Drivers at other companies feel like no one is taking care of them. No one answers their call when they have a problem or an accident, or makes sure they have family time when needed.”
“I think a lot of drivers are tired of being just a number, fighting for miles, or fighting for home time, then not getting paid for their miles,” said Tracy. “It can be a frustrating and stressful situation.”
To combat these feelings of under-appreciation, Sheryl and Tracy talk to the potential driver about how Transport America is trying to change the narrative.
“At Transport America, it’s different. We strive to get drivers home. We strive to pay drivers for the miles they drive. We even call drivers by their first names, and I think this makes all the difference in the world,” said Tracy.
“I often tell drivers: ‘To us, you’re not just an ID number or a phone number. You matter to us.’ We at Transport America really want to change trucking for the better,” Sheryl said.
“I want to build trust with drivers and I really enjoy bringing new drivers to the company,” said Tracy. “When a prospective driver says they’ve heard that we’re the best, I’m always proud to say ‘you’re right, we are the best.’”
“I want them to know that they made the right choice,” Sheryl said. “I want to show others that Transport America is a company where you can plant yourself and grow.”
Tracy and Sheryl, who transitioned from drivers to driver experts, are certainly examples of how drivers have grown, and are still growing, with Transport America.