By Al Muskewitz
When Covenant Transport chairman David Parker would speak to groups he’d often ask for a show of hands among those in the crowd who had ever encouraged their child or grandchild to become a truck driver.
He was dismayed to find few if any hands in the air. After a series of similar responses, he decided to take action.
Soon thereafter he proposed Covenant take the lead on the Tomorrow’s Truckers program as an outreach to its Chattanooga, Tenn.-area high schools to get students interested in trucking as a career path. The movement gained traction and the carrier soon provided the tool to the American Trucking Associations to get the program rolling nationwide.
“As a society we really put heavy emphasis on high school kids going to college,” Covenant communications director Will Brewer said. “What the Tomorrow’s Truckers program is designed to do is to get high school students interested and want to become truck drivers.”
In part for its leadership in creating the program Covenant was one of four winners of the ATA’s Mike Russell Trucking Image Awards this week recognizing trucking’s champions of image, professionalism and safety, and spotlighting individuals and groups that use innovative approaches to improve the image of the trucking industry
In addition to developing the Tomorrow’s Truckers program, Covenant also supports ATA’s image programs, including the newly-launched Workforce Heroes military hiring initiative and many of the industry’s disaster relief efforts.
“The Mike Russell Trucking Image Award is one of the highest honors we’ve received to date,” Covenant president and COO Joey Hogan said. “We’re extremely appreciative of the ATA for helping us champion the Tomorrow’s Truckers program to bring the excitement and energy of the trucking industry to America’s youth.”
There were no figures available to indicate how many future truckers the program has reached, but there certainly an awareness that hadn’t been there before.
“The intent of the program is just to spread the news, to just kind of say hey there are alternate careers out there,” Brewer said. “College is not the answer for every kid. No one ever really pitches truck driving.”
The ATA also honored the Minnesota Trucking Association, Jet Express fleet executive Kevin Burch and YRC professional driver Steve Fields. The awards are named in honor of the late Mike Russell, a trucking industry supporter and former ATA vice president of public affairs, and presented at the ATA’s Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego.
“The image of trucking improves each year due to the efforts of these champions,” ATA executive vice president of industry affairs Elisabeth Barna said. “(The) honorees have made a substantial impact on our industry’s public perception through their words and deeds. As an industry, we appreciate their efforts and encourage others to use their work as a model for improving our industry’s image going forward.”
Al Muskewitz is Editor-in-Chief for Wright Media. He can be reached at email@example.com
By Al Muskewitz