Truck Driving Careers Offer A Second Chance for Success as Economy Rebounds

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"I couldn't imagine a better profession. A lot of people aren't aware of the advantages that a career in truck driving offers and are a little intimidated by the unknown. All jobs don't require you to be gone multiple nights a week or require extreme physical ability. That's a large misconception about this industry. This career has allowed me to rise from financial debt and establish independence and I'm forever grateful." — Helen Hextrum, diesel truck driver at Pilot Logistics.

Trucking has always attracted hard-working, resourceful, independent and goal-oriented men and women looking for opportunities. As the economic recovery continues, it is also attracting people looking for a second chance.

For people who are looking for new careers coming out of the recession, the shortage of qualified truck drivers has spelled opportunity. A good example is Helen Hextrum, mother of four, whose marriage and business crumbled during the recession.

A veteran of the construction industry, Hextrum headed to North Dakota in May 2012 in pursuit of opportunities in the oil fields. To provide for her children who were living back in northern California with family friends, she lived out of her van for four months until she could secure housing.

“When I first arrived in North Dakota, I felt like I was in the California Gold Rush. There was sparse housing, especially for women, but an abundance of job opportunities,” said Hextrum. “I feel a sense of comradeship with others here. Most of us were affected by the recession, and this was our salvation. I'm blessed to work with Pilot Thomas Logistics. They offer me great resources.”

Hextrum moved to Tioga, N.D., to take advantage of the job opportunities created by the oil boom in the area. She landed a job at Pilot Thomas Logistics, as one of the few female drivers who deliver fuel to drilling sites and other energy-related businesses in the region.

The opportunities for a truck-driving career are not limited to North Dakota. American Trucking Associations estimates the industry is currently 35,000 drivers short of what is needed to move freight, deliver goods and perform other tasks. The organization expects that number to continue to grow and could top 200,000 by 2020.

“I couldn't imagine a better profession. A lot of people aren't aware of the advantages that a career in truck driving offers and are a little intimidated by the unknown,” said Hextrum. “They're so many different opportunities and avenues out there for those interested in a career in trucking. All jobs don't require you to be gone multiple nights a week or require extreme physical ability. That's a large misconception about this industry. There really is something for everyone. This career has allowed me to rise from financial debt and establish independence, and I'm forever grateful.”

One thing her career in trucking has allowed Hextrum is flexibility. The move to North Dakota was not easy, because she knew she would be away from her children. But her job at Pilot Thomas Logistics means a work schedule that allows her to get back to California to be with her kids for more than a week each month.

“I want women to know that working in the trucking industry isn't just a man's job. We can do it too, and I'm a prime example of that,” said Hextrum. “The trucking industry offers varied options. You don't have to be extremely physical on the job. Every job is different. A career in trucking is what you make it, and there is a lot to be made.”

At Pilot Thomas Logistics, Hextrum operates a high-performing Freightliner M2 106. Hextrum's job is demanding as she visits oil well sites, and it is imperative her truck be user-friendly. The Freightliner M2 106 has great maneuverability and is extremely agile. The M2 106 features a wheel cut up to 55 degrees and a set-back front axle. It also offers excellent driver visibility for spotting potential hazards, with a 2,500-square-inch windshield.

Based in Fort Worth, Texas, Pilot Thomas Logistics is the premier provider of fuel, lubricants and chemical solutions to the energy, mining and marine industries throughout North America. The business originated in 1946 and employs more than 4,500 team members with operations in 25 states and Canada.