Chris Dougherty started a local truck driving job nine years ago at Solar Transport hauling fuel and has been with the company ever since. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to drive for us, Chris gives his insight into the company and what it’s like to be a local truck driver.
How long have you been at Solar Transport and what’s the average?
I’m just about to celebrate my 10 year anniversary at Solar Transport. I’ve been with the company for nine years and 11 months. We have a lot of drivers that have been here twice as long as I have. The average is 12 years.
What drew you to Solar Transport?
After driving over-the-road (OTR) for several years, I owned my own trucking company up until 2008. We delivered items locally, and I was managing the drivers. After experiencing what it’s like to run my own business, I didn’t think I would ever drive OTR again and searching for “CDL jobs near me” was the last thing I wanted to do. After hearing about local trucking job openings at Solar Transport from a friend, I decided to look into it. The combination of pay, benefits and the ability to be home daily drew me in to Solar Transport - the rest is history.
What motivates you as a truck driver?
I believe we provide a service that is truly valuable to our customers. There’s pride in hauling fuel knowing it has a purpose and is something people need to live their everyday lives. This career has never gone from fun, to work, to “just a job” for me; it’s remained interesting for nine years. Having a local trucking job hauling fuel is never mundane or boring; there’s always some excitement. It’s challenging, and meeting that challenge successfully every day is rewarding.
Could you describe the process for deliveries and how that differs from OTR truck driving?
For OTR truck driving, unloading freight is physically demanding which presents unique challenges. But with fuel transportation, you don’t have to unload freight or deal with shippers or receivers of freight. The fuel goes on the tank and off the tank by itself; you just hook up the hose. The challenge is less physical and more mental. We have to keep up with the technology since we’re onboarding and delivering on a computer. It requires attention to detail, focus and eliminating distractions. One benefit of hauling fuel is that you’re not at the mercy of a receiving clerk, and you don’t have to wait in line to deliver. Avoiding these inefficiencies allows you to keep your day going.
What are the requirements for a local truck driving job at Solar Transport?
Transporting fuel requires energy and focus to safely transport refined petroleum products like gasoline, diesel, ethanol and jet fuel. Physically, it’s less demanding than OTR trucking since you don’t have to unload freight, but you have to be alert and prepared to drive for your shift. You also need to have the ability to follow strict regulations when unloading fuel and connecting hoses to their proper openings outside. Just like your phone or personal computer, you have to keep up with the technology for onboarding and delivering on a computer. Good communication skills are also needed to speak with store owners or runners you’d see regularly.
As far as certifications go, you need to have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) with HazMat and Tanker endorsements prior to orientation.
What was your career path as a truck driver?
I was an OTR driver for a few years doing long hauls across state lines. After doing that for a while, I was ready to be home and see my family more often. So, I switched to a local freight trucking job making home deliveries here in Des Moines. Next, I started my own trucking company and managed owner operators until 2008. I then was drawn to the idea of a local truck driving job for Solar Transport.
What’s your favorite part about being a Solar Transport driver?
The team aspect--the people. The driver, fleet manager/dispatch and operations support make it happen for the customers. It takes a whole team to make it work. I get to see my fleet manager and operations support manager at the office weekly and people from the office request ride-alongs to learn what it’s like for us drivers. We don’t just feel like a team, we are a team.
What are the benefits of having a local trucking job?
I love having a local truck driving job because I get to have a predictable schedule and see my family every day. My average haul is around 33 miles, and I’m never too far from my dispatcher and Operations Support Manager.
Did you ever have any hesitations about transporting fuel?
Coming from hauling home appliances, I was never intimidated about hauling fuel since it was less physically involved. Our training process is very thorough. Not only do new drivers have classroom training, they spend the first few weeks with an experienced driver so they know exactly what the job is like before driving solo. Our team is supportive along the way and makes sure you’re all ready to go by the time you get behind the wheel.
How would I start my local trucking job at Solar Transport?
As a new Solar Transport driver, you start out with a four-day orientation and then 3-4 weeks with a certified driver trainer to conclude your training. As a new driver, you would start out with night and weekend shifts and then eventually shift to weekday shifts.
Any words of advice for those on the fence about applying for a local truck driving job at Solar Transport?
My only regret after over nine years is not applying sooner. I have really enjoyed having a local trucking job at Solar Transport because of the predictable work schedules, the compensation and benefits, and being part of a company that’s the best in the business.
If you’re thinking about joining our team, click the “APPLY” button below to find a position near you.