The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Progress 2012

April 7, 2012

Economic drivers

Oil industry responsible for good number of job openings in northwest Oklahoma


ENID — Keep on truckin’

Autry Tech has partnered with Central Tech of Drumright to offer commercial driver’s license training. Central Tech currently brings instructors and three trucks to Enid every third month for a comprehensive 23-day CDL course.

But, the class is limited to six students per session and is not meeting the current demand for new drivers.

Travis Perrin, CDL and heavy equipment operator training coordinator at Autry Tech, said the CDL classes filled early for the February and May courses, and enrollment already is open for the July course.

In hopes of better meeting the demand, Oklahoma CareerTech currently is in the process of buying six trucks and trailers to establish a permanent CDL course at Autry Tech.

Perrin said a variety of students are drawn to the CDL course by good wages, ample job openings and the promise of local routes.

His recent courses have included everyone from experienced drivers to “people who have never even sat in a truck before.”

The one thing they all seem to have in common: They’re attracted to an industry that now, on average, is paying entry-level drivers $40,000 per year.

“There’s a lot of people who are either looking for a new career or they’re retired and aren’t ready to head for the house yet, and they’re looking at the demand for CDL drivers, and the pay that goes along with it is sparking a lot of interest,” Perrin said. “And, in a lot of the oil field truck jobs around here, you’re home every night. Most of them are day runs or two-day runs.”

Experience is needed

While prospective drivers may be drawn to oil field trucking by prospects of good wages, many of the open positions require years of experience and advanced qualifications.

Nowhere is that more true than in the world of tanker truck driving.

“Tank truck drivers aren’t born, they’re made, and not every truck driver can be a tank truck driver,” said Greg Hodgen, president and chief operating officer of Groendyke Transport.

Groendyke operates more than 1,000 tanker trucks at 31 locations spread between 12 states.

Hodgen said increased activity in the oil and gas industry has increased demand for tanker truck drivers faster than they can be trained.

“It’s certainly an issue that has affected us around the country,” Hodgen said. “A lot of our facilities are in areas where these plays are active, and it has affected our pool of available applicants.”

He said recruiting tanker drivers “is much more difficult now, particularly in the southwest U.S. and Rocky Mountain areas.”

“Finding qualified applicants is more difficult, not only in being able to find skilled drivers but also in the availability of skilled mechanics and maintenance personnel.”

Hodgen said it’s difficult to meet a surging demand for tanker drivers because it takes years for a truck driver to attain the skills and certifications needed to drive tank trucks, especially hauling hazardous materials.

Drivers must be at least 23 years old, be a U.S. citizen, pass a federal background check to be eligible for a haz-mat certification and be able to obtain an tanker certification.

“All of those things start to narrow down the field of available drivers,” Hodgen said. “The big kicker is they have to have the experience needed to pull a tanker. Pulling a tanker is a lot different than hauling a van full of dry freight, and there’s a certain level of experience required.”

Hodgen said the average age of hazmat tanker drivers is in their early 50s, reflecting the time and experience required to fill the job.

And, Hodgen said, demand is growing faster than new drivers can reach the threshold required to drive a tank truck.

“We can’t meet the demand ... we have more opportunities than we can take advantage of,” Hodgen said. “If safety is a value, then it doesn’t change, and you view all of your applicants through that prism. And, if your applicants don’t meet your standard, which is pretty high, you can’t hire them.”

Text Only
Progress 2012
  • onlineheader.jpg 2012 ON THE HORIZON

    The News & Eagle puts out an annual progress edition. This year's 2012 On the Horizon focuses on developments now and in the future. The stories in text format are available by scrolling down this page.

    Links to pdf format: Economic Development I Health and Wellness I Education I Northwest Oklahoma I Family I Faith I Agriculture and Energy I Community Service


    February 18, 2012 1 Photo

  • cover.jpg Community Service

    Enid News & Eagle's 2012 On the Horizon edition concludes with the role of community service.

    Click HERE for text version of the stories.

    Click HERE for pdf version of the edition.

    April 15, 2012 1 Photo

  • Chisholm vs Okeene_6_BV.jpg Chisholm seeks consistency

    August 19, 2012 1 Photo

  • Karen Vanover_Bass Hospital Volunteer_2_BV.jpg A positive interaction

    Karen Vanover and A.Z. Callicoat are past volunteers of the year at their respective hospitals, Vanover at Integris Bass Baptist Health Center and Callicoat at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Sandbox Learning Center_Ella Mae Loggins_BV.jpg Foster Grandparents: The solver of all problems

    “It’s something to get up for in the morning." — Foster Grandparent Ella Loggins

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • Hedges_Carmen Ball_3_BV.jpg Hear this

    Hedges is committed to improving communications skills for those in need in northwest Oklahoma.
    Executive Director Carmen Ball said Hedges is the only full-service speech and hearing center in northwest Oklahoma.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • Stephanie Ezzell_BV.jpg Doing their part for the community

    Stephanie Ezzell is active in the community in a number of capacities, including the popular Farmers Market, on the southeast corner of Grand and Garriott.

    April 14, 2012 1 Photo

  • Keepin' Enid Green_1_BV.jpg Sorting out the service

    The curbside recycling business began after Chris Feeney of Oklahoma Employment Securities’ Material Recovery, a recycling venture, repeatedly was asked why the option wasn’t available.

    April 14, 2012 2 Photos

  • ESL_Emmanuel Baptist Church_4_BV.jpg Learning the language

    Volunteers at Emmanuel Baptist Church stepped up to fill that gap with free ESL instruction last January, and now they have hopes of expanding the program to better serve the community.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos

  • First Presbyterian Church Mentoring_1_BV.jpg Tutoring joy

    Each Wednesday after school, church members pick up students — there are 23 in this year’s group — and take them to the church building for a snack, some fun and plenty of homework help.

    April 14, 2012 3 Photos