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FreightWaves Carrier Summit: Military hiring initiatives (with video)

Veterans and trucking companies can benefit from each other

Matt Beach (left), vice president of sales for SeatMyTrucks, interviews Jim Morbach (right), Werner's vice president of field and government recruiting. (FreightWaves)

Veterans who become truck drivers — and the carriers that hire them — discover that there’s a lot in common between serving in the military and driving a big rig, according to JIm Morbach, vice president of field and government recruiting for Werner Enterprises (NYSE: WERN).

Morbach was interviewed by Matt Beach, vice president of sales for SeatMyTrucks, to discuss military hiring in a virtual fireside chat that was part of the FreightWaves Carrier Summit on Thursday.

Former military personnel can bring a lot to the truck industry because of the discipline, work ethic and diligence that the military cultivates in individuals. Those qualities can translate into a successful truck driver who delivers loads on time and responsibly, said Morbach, an Air Force veteran who served for more than 21 years in security forces and in recruiting and retention. 

Meanwhile, trucking companies provide veterans with job security and the sense they’re still serving their country but in a different way, he said.

“There are so many parallels between serving your country in the military by protecting our way of life and serving your country as a professional driver by delivering essential goods to the American people,” Morbach said. “Those who have prior military experience, regardless of what field they served in, have the ability to change and adapt with the industry quickly. 

“By no means am I saying that only veterans bring these to our organization, but their ability to quickly change to their surroundings and being able to roll with the ebbs and flows of transportation logistics have been amazing to watch in my time here at Werner,” Morbach said. 

Morbach helps to recruit veterans to become part of Werner’s apprenticeship program for veterans, which it developed in April 2006 to transition those who served in the military into trucking through hands-on training. More than 12,000 veterans have been enrolled since the start of the program, which was the first of its kind in the trucking industry. 

Werner’s program is registered through the U.S. Department of Labor and approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is designed for those who have retired from the military or completed their stints of service and are eligible for Veterans Affairs educational benefits, according to Morbach.  

“At Werner, we’re proud to help all transitioning service members and veterans alike with this process. We have a team that is led by veteran associates who focus on military initiatives and provide a centralized point of contact for military assistance for everything, from questions about career opportunities in trucking to current Werner drivers having questions about their National Guard applications,” Morbach said.

Werner’s apprenticeship program not only provides the opportunity to learn how to be a safe and professional driver, “we also want them to feel a sense of belonging and community during their transition to the civilian workforce,” he said. 

Other trucking companies can develop their own apprenticeship programs targeted toward veterans, Morbach said. But what’s key is ensuring that the program has capable associates who can run and implement the program smoothly and effectively each day. 

“It’s so important to have qualified associates running the program the right way because there are VA and Department of Labor audits and they can be pretty extensive. A failed audit can be detrimental to a company’s program,” Morbach said.

Click here for FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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One Comment

  1. Richard Gaskill

    It would be interesting to know how many of those 12,000 veterans are still with Werner. Those considering a career change should read annual reports of trucking companies. Like many large truckload carriers Werner has a problem with driver turnover. Their fleet size has not increased in the past few years but they brag about how many veterans they hire each year. They say veterans make up 20% of their drivers so each year they must hire 4 times as many nonveterans than veterans. So if they hire 1,000 veterans a year they must hire 4,000 others but they only have 7,000 trucks.
    Why waste GI benefitson an insecure job when many unions have paid apprenticeships for trades that pay much more?

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.