Drivers wanted

William Thompson: Quay County Sun

Interstate Distributor Company has built a large truck terminal off Camino Del Coronado and now company officials need truck drivers.
Paul Smith, maintenance supervisor at the facility, said Interstate officials are meeting with city officials.
“We’re looking for ways to get the city involved,” Smith said. “We’re not sure yet in what way. We’re not sure yet until it’s final. There are several options.”
Tucumcari’s Economic Development Director Pete Kampfer said he recently completed three days of negotiations with Interstate officials.
“We’ve got plans to find ways to hire and train more truck drivers, but I can’t say what those plans are at this time,” Kampfer said. “I’ve also talked with the state work force department. We should know more by April.”
Smith said the truck terminal should begin fueling and servicing trucks by April 1.
“We’ll be servicing trucks here that are on coast-to-coast runs,” Smith said. “We’d eventually like to make this terminal a domicile terminal. That means most of the drivers of the trucks here would live in Tucumcari.”
However, finding drivers has not been too easy.
The trucking industry is suffering from a shortage of drivers nationwide, Smith said. One factor is the difficulty obtaining a Commercial Drivers License.
“Mesalands Community College is working on a program that would train drivers with the intent of those drivers hiring on with Interstate,” Smith said. “It’s very close to being a done deal.”
Clint Dougherty, commercial driving instructor at Mesalands, said nothing is finalized.
“We’ve definitely talked about it,” Dougherty said. “It’s too early to tell.”
Dougherty said if Interstate wanted Mesalands to train some student-drivers according to company specifics, that could be worked out.
Interstate has hired one Mesalands student as a driver so far. Dougherty said about ten students per semester train at Mesalands. Tuition for student-drivers is $1,889 for in-state residents. Dougherty said many trucking companies reimburse the students for their tuition once they are hired.
As for new Tucumcari residents, just one driver has relocated so far. However, Smith thinks relocation to Tucumcari would be a good move for drivers.
“The cost of living is low here and the tax rate is low,” he said. “Plus the weather is good.”
Smith said Tucumcari could serve as a terminus for a permanent run to another city in the west, a run potentially driven by many drivers who would make Tucumcari their home.