Finding truck drivers is an issue seen across the nation, and its impact has made its way in to the Rockford region.
The American Trucking Association says nationwide, there is a shortage of more than 50,000 truck drivers, and that number is growing. The problem stems from a growing economy and more demand for truck to carry freight. However, finding more drivers to drive those trucks has been a problem locally.
"Right now, to be clear there just aren't that many people wanting to be an over the road truck driver as there has been," says Meiborg Brother Trucking President Zach Meiborg.
Thad Gomez worked in management for 25 years, but now, for the past 2 years he has been behind the wheel of a semi-truck.
"I make more money driving a semi with a 4-year college degree than I would using my degree and being in management," he said.
Over his 2-year period driving trucks, Gomez says he has fallen in love with being able to have time on the road and see new things.
"You've got to love to drive, and you've got to have a lot of patience," Gomez said. "You get to see a lot while driving. You're not stuck inside of a building and you're not stuck in an office."
However, finding drivers like Gomez has been a challenge for many trucking problems, forcing them to find a solution to the problem. The solution, is to increase the pay and benefits of these drivers.
"Pay has increased over the last year and a half, and will likely take another pay increase in the next couple of years to keep up with the demand," Meiborg said.
A few years back, Meiborg says truck drivers were making around an average of $50,000. Now, with the pay raise, Meiborg truckers are now making around $60,000 and climbing. Truck owners and operators are nearly making six figures.
"With the pay increases we've implemented, we've seen an attraction of a lot of over the road drivers," Meiborg says.
Meiborg Brothers Trucking says they plan to add 50 more trucks to their fleet within the next year due to the demand for trucking transportation.
Meanwhile, the trucking program at Rock Valley College says they are seeing an increase in enrollment throughout this year, and have a large number of local trucking companies approaching their students for jobs after schooling.