In recent months, some product shortages and empty store shelves have made American consumers more aware of all the work that goes on behind the scenes to keep the general economy moving — and how many goods and materials we buy and use each day are transported over the road by trucking companies.
Currently, 3.5 million Americans work as truck drivers, either long-haul over-the-road drivers or local transport drivers. Truck drivers and trucking companies are essential to almost every part of everyday life — picking up raw materials and delivering them to manufacturers, then delivering finished products to distributors. They haul livestock, vehicles, food and so much more.
The American Trucking Association estimates that the trucking industry will need to hire 1.1 million new drivers over the next decade to replace drivers who retire and to keep up with growth in the economy.
In Eastern Iowa, Jeff has been a truck driver all of his adult life and found his “home” with Jensen Transport in Independence. At 59, he’s already logged more than 40 years behind the wheel, starting in the industry when he was just 18 years old.
“I like to drive, it’s soothing. It’s freedom,” he said. “It’s being able to go where you want and getting to see so much of the country while you’re working — parts a lot of people don’t get to see.”
Jeff travels across the country but typically stays in the nation’s midsection: Arkansas to Wisconsin and Kansas to Ohio. Sometimes, he said, he only takes driving routes in his hometown of Cedar Rapids.
Another Eastern Iowa driver, Mary Ann, 59, of Van Horne, only recently started driving truck as a second career. She had worked in a factory for nearly 20 years before meeting her husband, who is a truck driver. In the past, she would tag along on truck routes with him on weekends. After a while, she decided to get her own commercial license. Then the couple drove as a team for Jensen Transport for four years. Mary Ann took some time off to care for her ailing mother, but when she was ready to return, Jensen Transport had a position open. Now she drives on her own and stays in Cedar Rapids while her husband still drives longer hauls.
“The money is really good, and you get to get out and see parts of the country and meet different kinds of people,” she said. “That’s important — you get to know people you work with along the way and you all watch out for each other.”
To learn more about a career in trucking, go online to jensentransport.com or call (800) 772-1734.