Foodservice distribution giant Sysco is starting its own driver training school in the face of an increasingly challenging labor market.
Traditionally, private fleets have not had the same difficulties in finding drivers as for-hire motor carriers, but the current driver shortage has changed that.
In a recent earnings call, Kevin Hourican, Sysco president and CEO, explained that the post-COVID business recovery is happening faster than it had modeled.
“It is a very tight labor market out there and we are working extremely hard to ensure we can fill all of our warehouse and driver positions,” he said. “We are working very aggressively to do that, removing any and all obstacles that get in the way, recruiting bonuses, retention bonuses. We are increasing the number of recruiters that we have. We’re doing marketing to create awareness of what are very high-quality, high-paying jobs.” He also said the company is compensating sales consultants to find drivers that are already in the industry.
However, he also said the company is taking steps to address the driver shortage by starting the Sysco Driver Academy.
“The Driver Academy will enable us to recruit our own drivers and train them in the work we do at Sysco,” Hourican explained. “We will be better able to source drivers from our own warehouse associate population and teach them to become drivers with this unique industry program.”
Sysco will pay trainees to attend the academy and the company will cover all of their licensing and certification fees. These associates will sign a contract to work for Sysco for an agreed-upon period of time.
“I'm excited for what this driving academy will do for our recruitment pipeline and I believe we are likely to expand the program nationally once we have worked through the learning curve of our first location,” he added.
Sysco is recruiting a senior director of driver and delivery training and strategy in Houston, according to its careers page, to develop and lead a new standardized Sysco approach to driver and delivery training across its locations, both for those needing a CDL as well as experienced hires new to Sysco.
Sysco has a global fleet of more than 13,000 vehicles and operates approximately 326 distribution facilities worldwide.