President at CDLjobs.com
Onlinetruckers.org (OTO): Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
Darin Williams: I am a lifelong Iowan and attended the University of Iowa. My trucking career started when I was hired as a Driver Recruiter at Heartland Express in 1993. I held several different titles and responsibilities during my tenure with Heartland until I left to start my own Advertising Agency and website (CDLjobsOnline.com at the time) in 1999. It was a great training atmosphere being around the team that doubled the size of Heartland Express in a very short period of time. We are now nearing our 20th anniversary as CDLjobs.com and business has never been better.
OTO: How has trucking changed since you got started?
Darin Williams: When I started as a Driver Recruiter at Heartland Express, I was given a pencil, a notebook, and a telephone. We placed a few newspaper ads and a couple of full-page ads in digest-sized “trucking books” and our phones rang off the hook all week long. My job was less of “recruiter” than “order taker” as drivers were plentiful and Heartland had a great pay package to offer.
OTO: Why is trucking a good career? Why did you choose trucking for a living?
Darin Williams: Trucking has been very good to me and my family. My wife left her job as an FDIC Bank Examiner to join CDLjobs.com in 2001 and we raised two boys while balancing working together simultaneously. I saw a Forbes magazine article about Russ Gerdin and was in awe of what he was able to accomplish, so I answered a Help Wanted ad in the Cedar Rapids Gazette and was somehow lucky enough to be hired. I had zero trucking experience until I walked in the door on my first day.
OTO: Why are trucking companies always hiring? Are trucking jobs good, in general?
Darin Williams: Trucking companies are always hiring because it is an extremely difficult job to be a professional over-the-road driver. Pay rates have not increased at very favorable rates, yet the regulations have gotten tighter. Turnover is a real problem in part because of the tough conditions and also in part because every trucking company in America is hiring, so if a driver has a bad day, they can switch jobs and basically do the same thing with a different company next week. A professional driver with at least one year of experience can find a good, stable and well-paying job that will get them home regularly if they are willing to put in a little time to find it. So, yes, in genereal trucking jobs are good.
OTO: Where is the trucking industry headed? Will trucking be automated?
Darin Williams: I wish I was smart enough to answer this question…. I don’t think trucking will ever become fully automated, but if you told me in 1993 that I would be doing what I do today, I would have called you crazy. There seems to be a lot of hurdles to automation in trucking, but there are an awful lot of smart motivated people out there trying to make it happen. I guess you never know.
OTO: Any advice you could offer to people new to the industry and considering trucking for a living?
Darin Williams: Put in your time. I’ve got it pretty good doing what I do now, but I worked 70-hour weeks at Heartland Express learning while earning. It doesn’t matter what part of trucking you want to get involved in, you need to put in some time at the entry level and let the process take its course.
OTO: How has trucking changed your life?
Darin Williams: Trucking is my life now. It has changed it in so many ways, it’s hard to single any one item out.
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