De Pere trucking company focuses on training amid driver shortage

WEL Companies just received a state grant to help expand curriculum and driver training.
Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 9:15 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - A national truck driver shortage is causing one De Pere company to step up its training game.

WEL Companies just received a state grant to help expand curriculum and driver training.

“We’ve been extremely busy and volume is very, very good,” said Dave Gundt, training and driver development manager at WEL Companies.

The trucking industry hauled 72 percent of all the freight transported in the United States in 2019, equating to 11.4 billion tons according to the American Trucking Associations.

As the economy bounces back from the pandemic WEL Companies is taking a closer look at its training practices.

In February, the company received a $53,000 grant from the Wisconsin Department of Work Force Development.

“That grant is going to help us refine and develop our curriculum and make it really stand out, because we are tweaking it and we are adding courses to it and training techniques to it and it’s all going to be done standardized because there’s not standardization right now,” said Gundt.

Gundt says they could put about 150 people in trucks tomorrow, but the problem is they don’t have the applicants. It’s something Congressmen Mike Gallagher is working on through the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“One we talked about earlier today is lower the age of which you can get a CDL to 18. You can do that in the state of Wisconsin, but there’s some restrictions in terms of using the interstate and things like that, and I think it would make sense to have a simple standard across the board,” said Gallagher.

The lack of universal standards in truck driver training is one bump in the road WEL Companies is running into.

RELATED: Truck driver shortage could cause gas shortage

Trainers hope trade schools and colleges can implement federal regulation next year to help streamline how drivers get certified.

“Hopefully that will help because then we will have baseline of every student should be trained and taught the same curriculum before they get here,” said Gundt.

The company’s eight week training program consists of three phases and is expected to increase its fleet size by 125 drivers.

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