One out of every 13 Iowans works in the trucking industry, but the average age of an Iowa trucker is 57.
“We have more drivers exiting than we have entering, so anything we can do to talk about our industry and attract new recruits is definitely a priority,” says Brenda Neville, president of the Iowa Motor Truck Association.
Neville’s association and the Iowa Motor Carriers Foundation are launching an “image” campaign to boost interest in trucking as a career and spread the word about the industry’s impact on the state’s economy.
“Everything that is delivered on a daily basis comes by truck,” Neville says. “The quality of life we enjoy in this state is because of the trucking industry and, quite frankly, we haven’t done a good enough job in telling the story of how important we are in the lives of every Iowan.”
There are nearly 12,000 registered Iowa companies that send truckers throughout the country. Another 9,200 Iowa trucking firms operate just within the state’s borders. The Iowa Motor Carriers Foundation today released a statewide survey to gauge the impression Iowans have of their industry. It found 73 percent of Iowans have a positive view and only five percent have a negative view of trucking.
“When you do any poll on any issue, to have only five percent have a negative rating on something is really remarkable and it’s worth noting,” says Brad Anderson of Red America-Blue America, the Des Moines-based polling firm that conducted the survey. “…Overall, Iowans have a really good view of the industry as a whole and I think that speaks to people in the industry.”
Steve Schuster, the president of Schuster Trucking in Le Mars, says it’s a challenge finding qualified drivers.
“It’s still a very noble occupation,” Schuster says. “Our drivers do make very good money.”
The average starting salary for an Iowa trucker is $43,000. Over 100,000 Iowans work in the trucking industry and that includes technicians who work on the trucks as well as office staff who manage the routes and even monitor and control the temperatures on refrigerated loads.