Truck drivers are an essential part of the American economy as a whole. Transportation is a vital element that often goes overlooked, and without it, many businesses would cease to function. These drivers fulfill the logistics of how products and materials and other physical goods get from point A to point B. The sheer number of truck drivers currently headed towards retirement and the irreplaceable nature of the position sets up a real shortage and overall demand for truck drivers. “We’re facing a driver shortage that this country has never seen before,” said Instructor and Program Director Ray Puckett. “Baby boomers are retiring, so we’re seeing companies increasing wages, providing better benefits, and increasing the amount of time that drivers can spend at home.”  In road construction, our industry requires time-sensitive material such as asphalt pavement and concrete to be delivered to various types of jobs by truck drivers. It is essential to understand that these multiple materials must arrive at the job site consistently for a project to progress. For example, when a paving crew builds a new road, the paver cannot continually lay down asphalt if it is empty. It’s preferred that at least one truck full of material be ready on-site at all times.
Getting Your CDL
Becoming a truck driver requires getting a special license called a CDL, otherwise known as a commercial driver’s license. The path to getting a CDL varies from state to state but is often a similar process. It is important to note that there are different types of CDLs, which allow you to operate different kinds of vehicles. There are three different types, a CDL A, B, and C. There are also certifications you can obtain alongside your CDL that will make you a more qualified candidate for hire. For example, having a hazardous material certification in our industry is a big plus. It is something our managers like to see when looking at a potential new hire. There are different training centers that you can contact if you are interested in getting your very own CDL. Once you enroll in a training program, you will spend an allotted amount of time learning and practicing driving with these various commercial vehicles. It is also important to note; “Each type of CDL and endorsement requires that you pass a written test; some also require a skills test.”  For more information about obtaining a CDL, visit the following link. https://driving-tests.org/how-to-get-a-cdl-license/
It takes a dump truck to deliver hot asphalt to the job site on the paving side of things. Several different kinds of these dump trucks exist, including ones with their beds on hydraulics that raise and dump the product out of the back. There are other kinds called live-bottoms that use a sort of conveyor belt to feed product through the truck’s back without raising the bed. For these divisions of dump truck drivers, we require that applicants have a CDL A. a truck driver starts their day off at an asphalt plant, where they pick up their first load of product. Once they’re loaded and ready to go, they head to the job site. Once they arrive, they coordinate with the paving crew and flaggers, who direct them where to go in accordance with traffic and the set-up of the job site. Once the truck driver backs up to the paver to start unloading the hot asphalt, they must put their vehicle in neutral. The paver dictates the pace and pushes the truck forward. Throughout this process, it is vital to keep an eye on all surrounding hazards, including any power lines, bridges, signs, or other things that can be overhead and around you. It’s also important to be aware of traffic because sometimes road construction takes place on a single lane of a multi-lane road, in which case the other lanes are still active. Once the truck driver deposits the last of the asphalt material into the paver, it’s time to safely pull out of the work zone. After that, a driver would head back to the asphalt plant and repeat this cycle until the workday or job is completed.
M&R Ready-Mix, which is the Gerken Companies’ concrete division, does things a bit differently. Concrete doesn’t behave the same as asphalt and can settle very quickly when getting to the job site. Because of this, we transport concrete products via mixer trucks. A mixer truck is a vehicle that has a large rotating drum that agitates the concrete material inside constantly to keep it from hardening. Two of the kind of mixer trucks we utilize at the Gerken Companies are front dispensing and rear dispensing. (Look up for proper name). These titles are relatively self-explanatory. A front dispensing truck delivers its concrete via a chute with detachable segments extending or retracting its length. A rear dispensing truck is the opposite and provides its concrete material from the back of the vehicle. To become a mixer truck driver, one must at least acquire a CDL B, though it’s important to note that a CDL A will work as well. Like operating any large machinery, one of the most critical skills is situational and environmental awareness. Hitting something or, even worse someone, is typically avoidable by taking one’s time and keeping your head on a swivel. A mixer truck gets its material from a concrete plant, similar to how a dump truck driver gets their asphalt from an asphalt plant. The applications of concrete are a bit broader in that it is used in more than just road construction. Because their applications vary, the delivery process can often be different as well. For example, at some job sites, a mixer driver would deliver their concrete by dumping their product into a concrete pump. A labor crew would then use a large hose attached to a crane hooked up to this pump to disperse the concrete. This is often used when pouring a large concrete pad for foundation work. Other times a mixer driver may even be filling up smaller wheelbarrows transported by manual labor to the work area on site.
The overall versatility and demand for truck drivers make getting a CDL an excellent career choice. Click the box below to check out some of our driver positions today!