Drivers needed, OC offers classes
Jan 18, 2013 (Odessa American - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Darren Waters, co-owner Chem Tech Services Inc., said his business has been a small, family-owned business for the past 30 years.
But with a boom that shows no signs of slowing and ever-increasing opportunities for oilfield clients, Waters said the company has already nearly doubled its number of truck-driving employees and is looking to add more.
"If we commit to a customer and don't have a driver hired, we let that customer down," Waters said.
He said his company had six drivers about a year ago, has increased to 10 drivers and could use at least 12 drivers to handle the business of delivering and treating wells.
Odessa College is looking to help infuse the local workforce with more truck drivers as it begins another semester full of commercial driver's license classes.
Tracy Austin, the community education director at the college, said the course is offered every four weeks with up to 15 students per class.
"I think it's important that Odessa College offers trade training and particularly professional truck drivers, because that's such a huge need in this area," Austin said.
The four-week course, which includes classroom and driving instruction, provides students with just enough knowledge to acquire a CDL, senior instructor Julie Bridges said, as a lot of training occurs when the student gets a job.
However, Bridges also said the Odessa College course is unique in that it teaches defensive driving and equips the students to be ready for real-world driving.
But because of a tarnished public appearance in the past years due to numerous tractor-trailer accidents, including fatal accidents, in the industry, Bridges said it's still up to the individual drivers to follow the laws, rules and safe driving practices on the road.
And many of them do, she said.
"You always hear when something bad happens," Bridges said. "You never hear when we used to be called the white knights of the highway."
Marilyn Jenkins, the program's admissions representative, said they can't always control what a company tells the drivers when they are hired, but they can control the message they preach in the program.
"Safety is our No. 1 issue," Jenkins said. "If it's not safe, don't do it. It's preached from day one when they come in."
Robert Perez is a Nabors employee who was sent from San Antonio for some additional courses with Odessa College, which also teaches specialized courses to oilfield company employees.
Perez said he likes that he will have a lot of options within the company with a CDL, and that he learned more about the trucks during the course.
"I have a better understanding of them now," he said. "I have a lot better appreciation for (truck driving)."
David Brown also completed his training Thursday, when he said he was intimidated by the large vehicles before the course.
But after driving the trucks during the course, Brown said it became a habit just like driving a car.
"It's a lot going into that truck when you're driving," Brown said. "You've got to be on your toes at all times when you're in the cab."
Jenkins said she receives between 15 to 20 calls a week from oilfield companies looking for drivers, and Bridges said almost every driver who graduates the course will have a job opportunity.
"The only ones that don't get a job are the ones that don't want to work," Bridges said.
Willie Taylor, director of the Permian Basin Workforce Development Board, said the need for truck drivers is tremendous in the Permian Basin and throughout the United States.
The need is so high, he said, that he's looking at recruiting CDL drivers from as far away as Tennessee.
"If we had 1,500 people with CDLs right now, we could put them to work," Taylor said. "And that's conservative."
Waters said while he has no challenges finding a number of drivers to take a job, the difficult part is finding the right person, a driver who is reliable and wants to work with his family business for a long time.
Because of the tough competition in the oilfield, Waters said he has had problems before with drivers leaving for only cents on the dollar more pay.
Bridges said that may not be the best strategy with benefits always changing and no opportunity for advancement, which can often happen with a CDL if the driver stays in one spot long enough.
With the next Odessa College class starting Monday, Jenkins said if a person wants to sign up for the next month of classes, they can go by 2715 Robertson Avenue around 7 a.m. with a check or money order for $5,150, and must be at least 21 years old or 18 years old with proof of a job upon graduation.
The classes are five days a week for four weeks, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
After the session that starts Monday, the next available session begins Feb. 18.
Contact Jon Vanderlaan on twitter at @OAcourts, on Facebook at OA Jon Vanderlaan or call 432-333-7763.
___ (c)2013 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) Visit the Odessa American
(Odessa, Texas) at www.oaoa.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]