Truck drivers in hot demand in Windsor and Essex county

In the last 10 years the number of drivers has decreased, but demand for trucking continues to rise.
John LaMantia of Wolverine Freight System has had a difficult time finding qualified truck drivers. (Amy Dodge/CBC)

An ongoing shortage of truck drivers in Windsor and Essex County could lead to challenges transporting goods to store shelves, several company officials say.

Demand for trucking continues to rise, even though the number of drivers have decreased in the last 10 years. Finding qualified drivers has been one of the biggest struggles, said John LaMantia, director of administration for Wolverine Freight System.

People must be at least 21 to work at most companies in Windsor because of regulations crossing the border into the United States, but LaMantia said the company won't hire a person under 25 years old because of what the job entails. 

"It is a big responsibility to be a truck driver. We want our public highways to be safe," he said. "With the stringent safety regulations that are in all of our highways in North America, we're looking for that right individual."

Industry challenges

The top problems being faced by the industry include drivers wanting more time at home, higher wages and a dislike of long wait times at shippers.

Without people to drive the trucks, however, things the public relies on daily will not reach stores, said Steve Kozma, business manager at Morrice Transportation.

"Everything you have, everything you get every day of your life — if you go to a store, if you bought it — a truck brought it there for you," he said. "If we don't have the drivers to haul this freight, you could see grocery shelves start not being as full, just different things like that."

Advertising, telephone interviews and promotion of job perks, like having more time at home, are being used by businesses like Morrice to attract new drivers, Bradley Vermette with Morrice said.

Although being a driver can mean longer hours, Vermette, who has 20 years of industry experience and drove for seven, said being on the road is worth it.

"As long as you do your job, you're kind of like a free little spirit out there," he said.

With files from Amy Dodge