Going the Extra Mile
Crowley Fuels Looks at Solutions to Statewide Driver Shortage
When Vincent Schuerch was ready to return to work as a truck driver after taking three years off to care for his newborn son, plenty of opportunities awaited him. After interviewing with several companies, Schuerch accepted a position with Crowley Fuels, where he has worked as a local line haul driver delivering fuel in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley since August 2019.
“I found a home at Crowley,” says Schuerch, who is originally from Kiana, a village on the Kobuk River in Northwest Alaska, and now lives in Wasilla. “I’m home with my wife and son every night, I drive great equipment, and I work with friendly people.”
While the employment opportunities are bright for those looking for work, the need for qualified, experienced drivers is putting a strain on companies like Crowley, which currently has more than a dozen open positions across the state.
“There are many reasons for the current driver shortage,” says Michael Moeller, Crowley’s director of trucking. “One of the largest factors in trucking is an aging industry. According to surveys by the American Trucking Association (ATA), the average driver age in the for-hire over-the-road truckload industry is 46.”
ATA estimates that nationwide the trucking industry could be short 100,000 drivers in the next five years. Two-thirds of the shortage will be caused by new industry growth and retirement.
While training and developing the next generation of drivers is a natural long-term solution, companies like Crowley have an immediate need for experienced drivers like Schuerch, who spent 25 years working for NANA at Red Dog Mine and at Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope after serving four years in the Marines.
“I found a home at Crowley. I’m home with my wife and son every night, I drive great equipment, and I work with friendly people.”
Crowley Fuels is working to recruit candidates like Schuerch with competitive pay, attractive benefits, and a new sign-on bonus. The pay and benefits were a big consideration in Schuerch’s decision to choose Crowley.
“Crowley’s pay and benefits are very competitive. It trumps other companies and was one of the plusses I liked,” Schuerch says. He adds that his wife, who has worked for a local hospital for 17 years, gave up her health insurance and got on his plan because Crowley’s benefits are significantly better. “They’re hard to top,” he says.
While pay and benefits are important considerations, there are many intangible benefits of working for Crowley that put a smile on Schuerch’s face as he heads to work each day.
A typical day for Schuerch, who is based at Crowley’s Palmer terminal, starts at 10 a.m. After completing his pre-trip check and calling dispatch, he drives into Anchorage to fill up his 110-foot-long “pup truck” with up to 11,000 gallons of fuel. He then delivers gasoline, diesel and sometimes heating fuel at stations throughout Anchorage and the Valley. At the end of his 12-hour shift, he heads home to Wasilla. “I get to go home every night to my wife and son,” he says.
“Crowley’s pay and benefits are very competitive. It trumps other companies and was one of the plusses I liked.”
Driving an average of 150 to 200 miles a day, Schuerch says that Crowley’s young, well-maintained truck fleet is very important. “Crowley has up-to-date equipment and the maintenance guys work hard behind the scenes to keep our wheels turning,” he says.
Traffic, the weather and road conditions present challenges for all Alaska drivers, but Schuerch said those factors are easy enough to overcome. “Be safe, be attentive, be patient and just keep smiling,” Schuerch advises.
The safety culture is one thing Schuerch particularly appreciates about working at Crowley, which has been recognized with numerous safety awards, including the ConocoPhillips Alaska/Alaska Trucking Association Industrial Fleet Safety Award five out of the last eight years.
“At Crowley, safety is number one. If it’s not safe, it’s not worth doing,” Schuerch says, adding that everyone at Crowley is entitled to use the company’s “stop the job” policy, which gives all employees the authority and obligation to stop work if they believe it is not safe.
A disabled veteran who served in the Gulf Wars, Schuerch also values Crowley’s support for veterans. Nearly 10 percent of Crowley’s total workforce is made up of veterans, and last December, the company donated end-to-end logistics services and contributions totaling nearly $50,000 to Wreaths Across America so almost 13,000 wreaths could be laid in remembrance at the gravesites of U.S. veterans.
“Crowley has open arms for veterans,” Schuerch says.
The friendship and comradery are perhaps among the biggest benefits Schuerch has enjoyed working at Crowley. “People are happy to be at work, everyone works together, and that makes it a positive place to work,” he says. “Crowley Fuels goes the extra mile to make their team happy.”
“It is a privilege to be able to represent Crowley to our prospective drivers because we value their hard work, strive to compensate them well and provide them with a workplace that is safe, friendly, and provides opportunity for them to grow in their careers,” says Elaine Cox, senior talent acquisition business partner at Crowley Fuels.
To learn more about Crowley Fuels and current job opportunities, visit CrowleyFuels.com.
In This Issue
Spreading the Word
When Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) first aired TV commercials featuring the tagline, “A Place That’s Always Been,” the reaction was surprising. Not only because they received numerous accolades and marketing awards for the campaign but because, at the time, it was rare for Alaska Native corporations to market themselves through the media.