Given a rash of good news about ramped-up driver recruitment efforts by truckload carriers, things are surely picking up in that freight segment. And that pickup is certainly being viewed as sustainable by fleet owners. Carriers are doing everything from investing in personnel and infrastructure to make it easier for experienced longhaulers to find a place behind their driver’s wheels to offering higher pay to owner-operators.

A clear example of the trend is the decision by truckload carrier Con-way Truckload, a subsidiary of Con-way Inc. (NYSE: CNW), to re-open its driver-orientation site in Phoenix. Con-way Truckload said it plans to hire— “per month”-- 30 to 50 “experienced professional truck drivers, drawn from several Western states, including Arizona, Nevada, California, New Mexico and Colorado.

“With a growing customer base, competitive pay package and new equipment, there has never been a better time to join Con-way Truckload,” said Bert Johnson, senior director of human resources, Con-way Truckload. “The Phoenix site offers area drivers the opportunity to attend our orientation program in their own backyards before hitting the road with a company recognized for superior service, rewarding career opportunities and strong commitment to safety.”

Every new Con-way Truckload hire must attend a five-day orientation program at a company orientation site to complete the required paperwork and road test, learn about policies and procedures and take the DOT-mandated physical exam as well as take part in other activities.

The Phoenix orientation site, located at the Premier Inns, 8399 W. Lynwood St., will serve as the “training ground” for experienced drivers hired in the Southwest. Before re-opening of the location, which was closed in 2009, drivers were required to travel to the closest existing site in Lancaster, TX

The carrier noted that the Arizona site adds to Con-way Truckload’s national network of six orientation sites and supports the company’s expanding customer base in that region of the country. The other sites are located in Jacksonville, FL; Columbus, OH; Lancaster, TX; Chattanooga, TN; and at Con-way Truckload headquarters in Joplin, MO.

Johnson noted that experienced drivers interested in being hired by Con-way Truckload can gain more information by going to http://www.true2blue.com or calling 866-WORK-4-US (866-967-5487).

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Springfield, MO-based Prime Inc., which noted it pays its owner-operators “72% of revenue+” to begin with, said it “has again raised its minimum guarantee for independent contractors in its refrigerated and flatbed divisions, ensuring earnings of no less than $102,000 for every 100,000 miles completed.” The carrier said “this enhancement in guarantee still allows the operator to share in gains of the marketplace, but have the assurance that it will never be lower than $1.02 cents per mile.”

“It has long been Prime’s belief that contractors should be paid on percentage of the revenue,” explained John Hancock, Prime recruiting director. “Contractors who are only being paid on a flat per- mile rate, are not benefiting from the potential of the marketplace. With our percentage pay program, our operators immediately benefit from market improvements.”

Prime also announced a new revenue-guarantee program for independent contractors in its tanker division. “This creation in guarantee ensures earnings of no less than $115,000 for every 100,000 miles (HHG miles) completed, allowing the operator to share in gains of the marketplace but have the assurance that it will never be lower than $1.15 cents per mile on average,” according to Hancock.

“Our guarantee really allows the tanker contractors to benefit from the potential of the marketplace, while having an assurance of a minimum level of revenue at 70%,” he pointed out.

Hancock noted that with both new programs, Prime’s owner-operators will also “enjoy a simple, easy-to-understand fuel surcharge program” that holds the cost of fuel at $1.20/gallon at six miles per gallon (HHG miles).

“Prime is in the fortunate position of having a very strong customer base and freight network,” added Hancock. “That’s why we’re confident of our ability to pay” independent contractors via a revenue guarantee.”

Like Con-way Truckload, Prime cited its customer base and growth as the reason for revving up its recruitment efforts. “Prime is in the fortunate position of having a very strong customer base and freight network,” added Hancock. “That’s why we’re confident of our ability to pay” independent contractors via a revenue guarantee.

These latest programs for Prime contractors went into effect June 1 and are available to all new and existing operators. But to take part, Prime operators must contact the leasing company to sign a one-page addendum. Hancock said drivers seeking more information or wanting to apply online should go to www.primeinc.com.