Trucks at Work

Reaching out to fans

A longtime driver for refrigerated carrier Prime Inc. that goes by the handle Mustang said something interesting the other day on the radio. He said truckers have only two real fan bases left in the world: dogs and kids. "And the problem with kids is while they are pumping their arms to get you to blow your air horn, their parents are right behind them telling us to knock it off, we're making too much noise," Mustang said.

He makes a good point, which is why a group called Trucker Buddy is going to be very vital to this industry in the years ahead, I believe.

I know many people think Trucker Buddy is a pretty sappy concept -- getting truck drivers to become 'pen pals' with elementary school students -- but if you think about it, this type of outreach is crucial. By the time most kids reach high school today, a variety of employers are knocking on their doors, giving truck driving a lot of competition. And what better way to humanize trucking and show off its intelligence than to foster the connection with schools.

This connection also becomes vital as the future labor pool is expected to get very tight. "Look at the overall demographic shift here - you have 78 million baby boomers that start retiring in 2008 being replaced by Generation X, which is comprised of only 45 million workers," says Richard White, VP-marketing and communications for the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Assn. "Basically, you have a lot of people retiring very soon and not enough people to fill the jobs they are leaving."

All the more reason to get kids interested in trucking -- and keep them interested -- at an early age.