Building the legs of a four-legged stool

Jim Ward Headshot
Updated Feb 16, 2022

When John Lyboldt took over the reins of the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) six years ago, he surveyed the membership on his second day to learn what their struggles were and how TCA could better support their businesses.

From the responses he collected, he formulated the concept of “the four-legged stool” which became the basis of the value proposition of TCA membership throughout his tenure. The four “legs” that support this stool are: helping our members increase profitability, retaining a skilled workforce, building value of membership in TCA through enhanced offerings, and becoming the voice of truckload through government affairs efforts.

I am happy to say that today, we are announcing a new initiative to help our members with one of the most pressing issues facing the industry today: retaining skilled commercial vehicle operators.

After review of the Work Process Schedule and Instructional/Training Requirements with TCA’s Safety and Security Division, the association is pursuing sponsorship of the National Apprenticeship Program. The sponsorship is designed to assist carriers with the administrative lift required to become a registered and approved apprenticeship program provider. The sponsorship would also provide participating carriers access to an administrative manager to aid with the structure and reporting requirements and provide a playbook for pursuing tax credits and GI Bill benefits for drivers.

This is a great opportunity to target new driver candidate pools while having the support of Work Process Schedule and Related Instructional Outline, technical assistance and administrative support.             

The apprenticeship program comes at ideal time – new Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rules have set a new national standard for driver training. Industry and safety experts can feel more confident that 18 to 20-year-old drivers will receive a comprehensive and sound education.

We hope that expanding our carrier member’s recruiting reach to include younger drivers, trained to ELDT standards, will encourage a new generation to consider the great opportunities within the trucking industry.

TCA’s efforts with the apprenticeship program are just one of the many commitments we make to support carriers and lessen operational strain. Another recent TCA mission has been to fight unreasonable and discriminatory tolling schemes, like the one recently adopted by Rhode Island. During American Trucking Association (ATA) Mid-Year Meeting, TCA leadership gifted $50,000 to the association to aid their litigation fight in the state.

With membership in mind, TCA views programs like the apprenticeship program and Rhode Island litigation efforts as critical parts of service and advocacy. The “four-legged-stool” does not build itself. It is hand-crafted by TCA leadership and staff to provide a nice place for members to rest easy, knowing they are well supported.

For more information about the apprenticeship program, contact TCA’s Vice President of Operations & Education Jim Schoonover at jschoonover@truckload.org or by calling (571) 444-0310.

Jim Ward is president of D.M. Bowman, a 382-truck fleet based in Williamsport, Maryland. Under his direction, the company has transitioned from truckload carrier to a full-service transportation company, offering its customers dedicated fleet services, short haul, linehaul, brokerage, logistics and warehousing for dry van, flatbed, bulk and specialty services. Ward is the 2021-2022 chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association.