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)

A few months ago, Williams said if he had 500 extra drivers he could use them immediately and said 51,000 trucks are parked nationwide because of a lack of drivers. Still, he refuses to hire anyone until he has passed his training requirements.

The training center is part of Williams’ standards. It expanded the existing facility by 13,000 SF and added more bays and classrooms.

Maverick trucks predominantly pull flatbed trailers with cargo such as steel and glass, so Williams stresses specialized training to ensure that those loads are secured, not just for the customer but for the other people on the road. Think about that the next time you’re behind a huge 18-wheeler with a stack of enormous, car-crushing things strapped on the back.

Williams said the extra training results in insurance savings but not in the way you’d think. He didn’t ask the insurance companies for a rate reduction if he improved safety training; he went ahead and did it anyway — and then saw his rates drop because his trucks’ safety records were so good.

Williams said he has upped Maverick’s driver trainers from 115 to 150. These are mostly older, experienced drivers who spend four to eight weeks on the road with recruits teaching them the finer points of how to be a driver: how to dress, how to pack, how to handle different situations on the road and, critically important, how to deal with customers.

Williams is convinced that helping new drivers learn the “nuances” of being on the road improves retention. Maverick’s annual driver turnover is 62 percent while the national average is more than 100.

In recent weeks, Maverick has announced two pay raises, one a general rate-per-mile increase and another by waiving the waiting period for a pay-for-performance bonus. Williams said starting annual pay for a first-year driver ranges from $50,000 to $58,000 and up to $80,000 for experienced drivers.



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