Last week trucking company Maverick Transportation unveiled the expansion of a new $4 million training center that will add more than 13,000 square feet to the previous facility at the company’s headquarters in North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Continuing to focus on comprehensive, quality training over faster training, the company will now utilize a total of seven classrooms and eight training bays, where drivers live-load all cargo and are trained in the Maverick securement techniques.
At the grand opening of the center last Thursday, Gov. Mike Beebe gave opening remarks, admiring founder and CEO Steve Williams for his efforts to improve the trucking industry.
He told the audience that Williams offered a graduate-level training system far beyond what’s offered through driver-education programs in colleges and universities. “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.”
Founded by Williams in 1980, Maverick has been an industry leader in safety since the beginning – heavily emphasizing collision avoidance systems and hair follicle drug testing for all incoming drivers.
Maverick trucks predominantly haul flatbed trailers with cargo such as steel and glass, so the extra training ensures that those loads are properly secured, not only for the safety of the truck driver but for other motorists on the road as well. And it’s worth the extra money, Williams said. According to him, training one driver costs about $10,000.
Maverick trained 948 people last year, spending a total of $9.48 million in training costs even though new hires aren’t obligated to stay and can leave if they want to. With the ability to train 210 drivers at a time in the new space, the company is also increasing driver trainers from 115 to 150.
These are mostly older drivers used to spending four to eight weeks at a time driving, and who can show new drivers the “nuances” of being on the road. This extra attention, according to Williams, improves driver retention as well.
“We want this to be a career of choice, not of last resort,” Williams said. “We are committed to attracting, training and retaining the industry’s safest and most professional drivers.”
The strategy seems to be working. Maverick’s annual driver turnover is 62 percent while the national average is more than 100. It doesn’t hurt either that Maverick has announced two pay raises. One is a general rate-per-mile increase and another is through waiving the waiting period for 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.