Maverick Goes Extra Mile to Train Drivers

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 12:00 am  

Maverick USA Inc. founder Steve Williams, left, and Gov. Mike Beebe. (Photo by Maverick Transportation)

I admire people who put their money where their mouths are.

I also admire people who serve really good barbecue.

Steve Williams, the CEO and founder of Maverick USA Inc., spent $4 million to expand and improve the driver training center at his company’s headquarters in North Little Rock. Williams held a grand opening on July 24 and all sorts of political and industry bigwigs showed up.

Most notable, of course, was Gov. Mike Beebe, who gave opening remarks. He said Williams is unconventional because he refuses to take shortcuts when it comes to improvements in the trucking industry.

Beebe said the state funded a driver-education program in several colleges and universities, but that wasn’t good enough for Williams. Williams, Beebe said, appreciated the help but still put prospective drivers through a graduate-level training system when they showed up at Maverick.

“Maverick’s way is more costly,” Beebe said. “Maverick’s way is more intensive. Maverick’s way involves more training than anything that I’ve seen.”

Williams, who started Maverick in 1980, is well known in the trucking industry for his outspoken calls for such things as hair testing for drugs and electronic on-board recording systems. Although the industry is in the grips of a driver shortage, Williams is emphasizing increased training rather than faster training or lower standards. And he’s using $4 million of his own money to do it.

Maverick reported revenue of $315 million in 2013, so it’s not like Williams had to scrape loose change from between the seats of his trucks to pay. But it was money he spent — and will continue to spend — to make Maverick’s stretch of road safer.

“Maverick’s Way” means that training one driver costs about $10,000, and Maverick trained 948 last year ($9.48 million for those scoring at home). This is even though there is no way of knowing if those trained drivers will stay at Maverick for one day, one week or 20 years.

What is known is a driver at Maverick will know what the heck he or she is doing on the open road.

“The last thing we need to do is lower our standards,” Williams said.

Williams said standards have to be improved because truck traffic (and every other kind of traffic) on the nation’s roads is only going to increase. The catch is that there are fewer, drastically fewer, people entering the trucking field as prospective drivers.

 

 

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