Michael McDonald has found success in hiring young people from a background that he says sets them up to succeed as technicians — the military.
“We feel that some of the core values that the military teaches on respect and dedication are core values that we want as well,” says McDonald, who’s senior director of maintenance at Benore Logistic Systems. “Those are key traits in maintenance and operations and in trucking in general.”
“The probability of getting a good work ethic in a younger person that’s a veteran is dramatically higher than the probability of them having a good work ethic and not being military,” McDonald says.
Gerry Mead, who has headed up fleet maintenance at trucking giants such as U.S. Xpress and Hub Group, began his career as a diesel technician in the military. He says while there’s a trend of more shops seeing the value of hiring veterans, it’s still an untapped reservoir of talent.
“Those guys are becoming more and more advanced because their equipment is really becoming more dynamic,” he says of veterans coming out of the military. Obviously, they’re not into the EVs, but when you talk about diagnostics and prognostics and leveraging data, keeping the vehicle up so it doesn't break down in combat is pretty important. Their uptime is really enhanced when you look at it.”
Another untapped resource for technicians is women.
The 2023 WIT Index, prepared by the Women in Trucking Association, reported that more than 7% of technicians are women, an increase of nearly 4 percentage points from the 2022 WIT Index. The information in the 2023 WIT Index was collected through the input of 350 companies in the trucking industry.
“The industry as a whole is certainly more open-minded and in favor of women entering the workforce in respect to being technicians,” says Victor Cummings, Rush Enterprises vice president of service operations.
“When I started in this business, I don't recall any women technicians. So, it’s really exciting to see it, the diversity and the fact that women are taking an interest. We've got some very talented female technicians.”
To recognize and celebrate its women techs, Cox Automotive Fleet Services launched Project Pink, where eight female technicians were selected to show their support by wearing custom-made pink uniforms in support of breast cancer awareness. This initiative is being expanded to reach more technicians.
As Cox continues to recognize and celebrate the vital role of its female fleet services professionals and promote the contributions of women across the trucking sector, Project Pink participants will be sharing their stories.
McDonald points out that there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
“It’s not shifting as much as we’d like to see,” he says. “It is still primarily a male-dominated field.”