Diversity in the Trucking Industry
by Mario Tarradell | March 7, 2019
Diversity in the Trucking Industry
The Changing Face of the American Trucker
We know Smokey & the Bandit and Convoy, perhaps the most recognizable trucking films of the last 45 years. We know the well-worn image of the American trucker – male, rugged, in his 30s to 40s, bred on baseball and apple pie.
But that face is changing, diversifying. In the last 20 years, the trucking industry has welcomed an influx of women, Hispanics, Indian-Americans, Eastern Europeans, and other minorities that have steadily transformed the trucking industry landscape. We also have organizations representing that diversity such as Women in Trucking (WIT), Laredo Motor Carriers Association (LMCA), and North American Punjabi Trucking Association (NAPTA).
Apex Capital proudly holds memberships in all three organizations, and we support inclusion in the trucking industry. Truckers are our lifelines. They bring us the food, medicine, and supplies that keep our lives moving forward.
Kevin Reid, who started the Georgia-based National Minority Trucking Association (NMTA) in 2011, told Pacific Standard Magazine that “nothing moves without trucks. You look around, if it’s manufactured, a truck touches it.”
That trucker delivering your produce and your paper products could very well be a woman, an African-American, a Hispanic, an Indian-American, or an Eastern European. According to NMTA,
there are more than 1.5 million minority truck drivers in the U.S. with the largest minority trucker groups being African-Americans, Hispanics, and women.
Women Are Over-the-Road Champs
Wisconsin-based Women in Trucking reports that there are between 180,000 and 200,000 over-the-road women truckers, which makes for nearly 8 percent of the driver population. Additionally, women comprise 12.5 percent of all workers in truck transportation. WIT’s aim is to not only support and champion women in the truck cab and behind the wheel, but also in the executive offices.
“Women in Trucking’s mission is to create a more diverse workforce in the transportation industry by increasing the participation of women at all levels of employment – from driver to CEO,” says Ellen Voie, President & CEO of Women in Trucking. “Women are underrepresented in the cab and in the boardroom, but that’s changing as we learn more about how women add value to this industry through better engagement with colleagues to less risk taking and more collaboration with peers.”
Healthy Growth for Hispanic Truckers
Hispanics are also experiencing healthy growth in the trucking industry. In Laredo alone, a city which is 95.6 percent Hispanic and employs just over 98,000 people, 17,000 work in the transportation industry. The two largest industries in Laredo, a Texas border city, are transportation and warehousing, according to the Laredo Motor Carriers Association. The allure of the open road, the autonomy of driving a truck, and the security of success on your own terms is strong for Hispanics that prefer the opportunities available to them in trucking.
“The biggest challenge in the trucking industry is finding drivers, and immigration has been very important in supplying the labor needed,” says Javier Andrade, Bilingual Portfolio Manager at Apex Capital. “Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the US population and trucking companies have taken notice. For the last 15 years companies have been targeting Hispanic drivers to fill the labor gap. Hispanics are attracted to the transportation industry for different reasons including better pay, freedom, and better working conditions. Trucking is a great alternative for those that have recently come into the US. They can provide for their families. A lot of them start as drivers and later open their own trucking companies in pursuit of the American dream.”
Indian-Americans Motivated by the American Dream
The American dream is a powerful motivator for Indian-Americans. They, too, are looking for a way to make a good living while having control over their futures. According to a 2018 CBS News story, more than 30,000 Indian-Americans who practice the Sikh faith entered the trucking industry in the last two years.
Check out these numbers: The North American Punjabi Trucking Association (NAPTA) reports that 30 to 40 percent of the trucking industry in California is run by Punjabi. The US trucking industry is approximately 15 to 17 percent run by Punjabi. In Canada, that number balloons to 60 percent.
Raman Dhillon, CEO of NAPTA, points to the family tradition of trucking for Indian-Americans as a key reason why they pursue it once arriving in the US. “They were exposed to it, they are connected to it,” says Dhillon, whose NAPTA boasts 434 members with approximately 4,500 trucks.
“It’s a hard job, and they are very hard workers. They really enjoy trucking because when they were in India there was no luxury. The life of the trucker in India is the same as what you would imagine is the life of a trucker in America. But when they come over here things change. They see it as much better over here. The trucks are better, rules and regulations are in place. They love that nobody is watching over their shoulders. They are their own bosses. They are free. It is lucrative. They will take six months to a year to learn the industry and then they become owner-operators quickly.”
Apex takes pride in supporting inclusiveness within the trucking industry. We know that truckers today come from all backgrounds and represent all nationalities. There are diverse faces behind the wheel hauling big-money loads down the interstate. Smokey & the Bandit and Convoy are fun trucking movies, but the American trucker of 2019 is so much more than that.
Apex factoring is available for trucking companies representing all nationalities. Are you ready for steady cash flow and an array of free services to help your company succeed? Visit our website or simply give us a call 855-369-2739.