break up and says that
some of those drivers want to stay on because of the steady year-round
work schedule.Others can't wait to get back to the independence of
hauling logs out of the woods.
To help educate new drivers Hanson Trucking is developing a training program to acclimate inexperienced hires to the daily routine and business. Weaver who is experienced as both a driver and dispatcher will head up the new program.
I have been asking the advice of the new drivers as to what would have been helpful to them when they were first starting out. Even simple things like how to chain the tires up in the winter time would be helpful," Weaver says. "One of the pluses about us training the new drivers is that we can teach them to do things the way 'we' want them done without them bringing in a bunch of preconceived notions."
Weaver will go through a three or four day training session with new drivers teaching them the particulars of routes, mill and personnel. When the drivers are comfortable, they will go out on the job for up to a week with experienced drivers. They will take their first solo trips with a single trailer on local runs and then gradually break them into pulling an A-train with a pup trailer.
"First impressions in a new driver are very important. You can tell a person's energy, personality and attitude right from the very first handshake," Steve says. The amount of damage that is done to equipment is another test of a drivers skill and carefullness on the job. Hauling in and out of crowded mill yards presents challenges even for the most seasoned driver. Many of the material bins and dumps must be backed into and others are in precarious places.
| "Any time
something happens, the driver is required
to fill out a damage report and we keep close track of that," Steve
says. "If we have a new guy who is tearing stuff up we sit down and
visit with him about it. If it continues we can't afford to keep him."
Hanson Trucking has 55 employees, including 40 drivers and nine mechanics. There can be no down time with the amount of service they provide and the number of trucks that they run.
"We have people working for us who have done nothing but drive trucks all their lives to people who are going to school for business management and computer technology," Steve remarks.
The fleet is made up from a constant rotation of well-maintained used trucks. Up until this year the company had never purchased a new truck; always opting for two to three year old tractors that previous owners had traded in.
Hanson's mechanics take care of most of the service and repair of their fleet in their three-bay shop facility. They outsource time-consuming internal engine and transmission work to The Diesel Shop and Western States Caterpillar, both in Kalispell, as well as Missoula Freightliner. They save time and money by single sourcing their tire shopping locally with Ritchie Riley & Shook Tires.
Of the 25 trucks, there are 24 Kenworths and a lone Peterbilt. The older trucks are powered by a variety of engines, including Cat (mostly 410E models), Detroit and Cummins, with transmissions that run the gambit from 10 through 18-speeds. The trucks are also equipped with air scales, which make it easier for drivers to get loads