Clearly determined to give the driver shortage a real run for its money, P.A.M. Transport is upping the ante it lays out to draw in fresh driving recruits. The Tontitown, AR-based operation is a dry-van truckload carrier. With primary routes stretching over the Midwest, Southeast and East Coast, it rightly views itself as being in competition for drivers with fleets operating nationwide.

The carrier has been providing company-sponsored CDL training through a company called Driver Solutions Inc. (www.driversolu tions.com).

But now it's also paying a sign-on bonus to those students who complete the training program and subsequently go to work for P.A.M., as well as handsome starting wage.

According to Clark Gray, vp of driver resources for P.A.M. Transport, the strategy is aimed at attracting more new drivers in a “fiercely competitive market” that is forcing trucking companies to step up recruitment efforts nationwide.

“The need for drivers never takes a holiday,” remarks Gray “P.A.M. Transport understands that beginning a new career that requires training can be financially stressful. In order to keep our fleet growing, we decided a student sign-on bonus was an attractive incentive to offset greater driver recruitment competition.”

Even without the sign-on bonus, P.A.M. Transport absorbs most of the cost of training for a CDL via the program operated by Driver Solutions.

The firm has put together a network of trucking companies and matches each potential driver to a given employer. Each new student driver enters the Driver Solutions training program under the sponsorship of his or her future employer with up-front tuition costs covered by that employer.

The training program takes about three weeks to complete and Driver Solutions says it keeps out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum during the training period to help make the opportunity as low-cost as possible.

The pitch delivered to prospective new drivers on the P.A.M. Transport page at the Driver Solutions web site explains that new drivers pay only $995 of the full $4,995 tuition cost, with P.A.M. picking up the rest. And it states the driver recruit pays “nothing upfront.”

Rather, once the new hire begins working, $45 will be deducted from each of their weekly paychecks. This money is placed in an employee savings account.

Once the driver fulfills a one-year employment agreement with P.A.M. Transport, he or she gets a check for all the money deposited plus interest and minus the $995 owed for training.

On top of that, each P.A.M. transport recruit receives $200 cash during the program to help with expenses.

Upon completing training, students hired by P.A.M. Transport receive their $1,000 new-hire bonus. Then they start driving at a very attractive entry level wage that can add up to $38,000 per year based on the carrier's current pay plan (new drivers start at $0.27/mile as solo drivers and pay increases to $0.29/mile after 6 mo. and to $0.30 after 1 year).

In other words, P.A.M. Transport is pretty much removing the financial obstacles that can prevent interested persons from getting a start as truckers. And then it's rewarding these new drivers with an impressive chunk of change as well as a respectable wage.

According to Driver Solutions CEO Chris Welch, the triple play of training, bonus and good pay P.A.M. Transport is fielding is unprecedented in trucking.

“No other trucking company has catered to the needs of the new driver more than P.A.M. Transport,” says Welch. “They continue to set the bar high in new-driver recruitment and training.”