KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The trucking industry is one vital part of our economy, that like many others, has felt the impact of inflation and supply chain issues.
"As a driver we’ve been coming to work everyday,” Jared Mann, a driver and CDL training instructor at Estes Express, said.
Mann and drivers like him are just trucking along as colleagues and other trucking companies feel the supply chain and inflation impact.
“Right now, within the last two years between the COVID issues and the staffing challenges, it’s certainly been a challenge,” Jared Evans, the terminal manager at Estes Express Kansas City, said.
The challenges that Evans speaks of is finding drivers to deliver goods.
“There’s been a historic low in CDL’s and qualified CDL candidates,” Evans said. “We hire within as well, not just off the street, so you’re talking about DOC, workers, even managers, that want to become drivers.”
Anthony Ross, the associate dean for research at the Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri, says hiring within is a way forward.
“We call that — trucking companies now looking at their talent pool — as a farm system," Ross said. "To proactively recruit and solicit, prepare invest and develop, drivers of tomorrow."
Still, companies like Estes Express Kansas City are trying to stay optimistic, something Ross says can be difficult for other companies.
“When the trucking companies pay at the pump if you will, and procure their supply of diesel fuel, their prices go up,” Ross said. “But then the prices surge, and so now companies are stuck in the middle with regard to price escalation and price de-escalation."
According to Ross, those costs can trickle down on people's wallets.
“If the transportation costs are increasing somehow or another, those increase costs have to be absorbed," Ross said. "And the question is, who absorbs those costs in the supply chain? I partially believe that we as consumers are seeing increased costs at the retail store, whether it be online, brick and mortar and at the gas pump.”