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Expanded driver training program enables new and aspiring drivers

The Shaw Driver Finishing Program is currently being piloted to offer associate growth and meet driver demand.

Shaw Industries

Expanded career paths, fulfilment of talent gaps and a better customer experience – these are some of the possibilities currently being explored with the expanded Shaw Driver Finishing Program. 

The program, currently being piloted for use at regional distribution centers, will take fresh Class A CDL graduates and turn them into experienced, vetted Shaw truck drivers.   

Traditionally, Shaw, like other employers, has required at least two to three years of driver experience for new hires. The driver finishing program is creating a standardized process for training new license holders.  

“I know what it’s like to be looking for a job without experience,” said Driver Trainer Eddie Mendibles. “I think this is an awesome opportunity for Shaw associates to take the step to becoming a professional driver.  

“And it’s not just about a job. I see this as a way to improve [the associate’s] home life too. This is something families can be proud of. I can see children being proud of their fathers, their mothers, becoming professional drivers.” 

The program has been used in Dalton and is being piloted in California with expansion plans already in place. If positive outcomes continue, the program could well become generally adopted with increased training opportunities at RDCs across the company. 

If implemented, new drivers – upon completion from a certified truck driving school with a Class A CDL – will be able to enter Shaw’s 12-week training program and get up to speed with the Shaw Way of driving. 

“We get drivers with different experiences and backgrounds. They already have their own habits, good and bad,” Mendibles said. “Now, we can train them the Shaw Way from scratch, creating a culture, showing them how Shaw does it. How we load, unload. How we treat customers. How we drive. When we’re out on the road, we see other [truck] drivers fly by us all the time. That’s not how we do things.” 

Trainees start out as passengers learning from the driver trainer, rehearsing pre- and post-trip inspections, planning routes and studying emergency protocols. They first get behind the wheel in “the yard” on Shaw property getting experience backing, docking and practicing collision avoidance. By week eight, they are ready for the driver’s seat with the trainer by their side logging miles and making deliveries. 

The first trainee under Mendibles is a current Shaw warehouse employee who obtained his license and is making the transition to driver. This is the scenario that excites Mendibles and his colleagues piloting the program.  

Fleet Services Director Greg Whisenant knows what a difference Shaw’s culture makes and cites the Shaw Way as a key for driver retention. 

“Once a driver comes to Shaw, they stay because they’re treated so well,” Whisenant said. “Our typical driver tenure is 10, 15 years and longer.” 

Paired with low turnover, the Shaw Driver Finishing Program is another tool that will help Shaw Transportation battle the historically high driver shortage currently facing the market. 

The Driver Finishing Program pilot embodies the Shaw Way as an innovative and strategic solution that will empower associates and grow the business.