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A major trucking firm in the U.S. just enacted a major pay increase for its drivers – the largest in the decades-old company's history, in fact.
KLLM Transport Services is boosting pay up to 33% for its over-the-road truckers and for trainees coming out of its academy, while regional company drivers and independent contractors will see a hike of 10 to 16% starting next month.
KLLM Transport Services announces largest driver pay increase in company history (KLLM) (KLLM Transport Services)
That's a lot – far more than the current inflation numbers facing the U.S. – and KLLM CEO Jim Richards told us why: It comes down to drawing in good talent, and recognizing their drivers for a job that is incredibly taxing.
"Historically, it's always been hard finding good, qualified drivers, and as of the last year or so, it's become increasingly more difficult," Richards told FOX Business.
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He said that with the new pay structure, drivers trained by KLLM will hit the job with the opportunity to make around $70,000, with no cost to trainees for the education provided by the company. Prior to the hike, new drivers could expect to make around $48,000.
For rookie drivers who are willing to really hit the pavement, literally, they could now be looking at anywhere from $120,000 to $150,000 in their first year out of the gate.
Tucker on a call at Petro Truck Stop on December 20, 2021, in Atlanta, Georgia. ((Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/AFP via Getty Images) / Getty Images)
After announcing the move, Richards says current KLLM drivers are "ecstatic." The CEO explained that for a long time the company has wanted to pay their employees more in-line with other professions that require long bouts away from home, and recent economic conditions have provided that opportunity.
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Richards says that over-the-road trucking is "one of the toughest occupations in the country from a standpoint of just the conditions that you deal with along with being away from your family and away from home, so it's a difficult job." He compared it to offshore oil field workers who make a lot of money, but the trade-off is living away from home for a period of time.
KLLM was able to provide the pay boost, Richards says, because it has been able to charge more to "shippers at levels we've never seen before," and the company wants to pass that along to its drivers. The CEO says KLLM is catching up now after "a long time that we've not been able to pay drivers what they're worth."
Blue Bell Ice Cream is seen on shelves of a grocery store (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE
The trucking company has been in business for 55 years and hauls products for Fortune 500 companies such as Mars, Kraft, General Foods, ConAgra and Hershey, along with Richards' favorite, Blue Bell Creameries.
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