CCJ Innovators: Crete pays tribute to veterans
January CCJ Innovator: Crete Carrier Corporation
With its new Patriot Fleet, Crete Carrier delivers its message of appreciation for military veterans over the road
While the current driver shortage hasn’t reached the doomsday scenario many analysts had predicted, competition for qualified drivers remains fierce. With a lack of skilled drivers entering the work force, many fleets have set their sights on one particularly attractive pool of candidates – military veterans.
Crete Carrier Corporation is no exception to this recent trend. In fact, in terms of actively recruiting veterans, the Lincoln, Neb.-based nationwide dry van carrier may well be the exception. The company’s motives for hiring military veterans is much deeper than simply filling seats, thanks in large part to a corporate philosophy driven by Duane Acklie, Crete Carrier chairman. Acklie himself is a military veteran, having served two years of active duty in the U.S. Army – including 20 months in Germany – as well as seven years in the Reserves.
The company develops the Patriot Fleet to instill pride and awareness for its many efforts to recruit and support returning military.
“We have to do everything we can to help [veterans and troops returning from overseas] because they have not had the chance to network while they were in the military, and we have to make up for that,” says Acklie. “When I served in the Army, I had gone out of the country for 20 months, and in 20 months when you’re overseas, you lose contact with a lot of people. … I had to do a lot of scrounging to try and find the job that I wanted. We can’t expect people to go away and serve many years in the military and then come back and not have anything to do.”
In 2011, Crete Carrier established itsMilitary TransitionProgram, paving the way for recruits and preparing veterans for career opportunities as drivers, shop mechanics and front-office employees. For driver candidates, the program requires a Class A commercial driver’s license, honorable discharge, two years of active-duty military experience and one year of military semi tractor-trailer experience in the last five years.
“The eight-week program is designed to take the semi tractor-trailer skills learned in the military and translate them to civilian commercial driving,” says Jeff Dady, driver development manager. “Our program is different from other programs because we have great benefits and excellent pay, and the driver will be paired with an experienced trainer over those eight weeks.” Drivers in the program receive $500 per week during the training period and will earn between 37 and 40 cents per practical mile upon completion.