A shortage of truck drivers has plagued the supply chain industry for years. Despite promises of sign-on bonuses and above-average salaries, many companies can’t find a way to keep their drivers on the payroll.

The American Trucking Associations estimates that the industry needs 25,000 more drivers than the approximately 3 million it currently has. Industry predictions say that number could grow to as many as 850,000 in the next decade. Add in the over 80 percent driver turnover rate and few young drivers entering the field, and the situation is dire. Issues like being away from home for long periods of time and industry regulation are among the multitudes of root causes, according to the ATA.

But, a Southcentral Kentucky company has found a solution to the driver shortage: understand your employees’ needs.

Stryker Logistics Owner and President Fuji Avdic said his company hasn’t been impacted by the national truck driver shortage.

“A lot of companies have had an issue with that but we haven’t,” Avdic said. “The reason why is we’re in such a diverse community our focus has been, from Day 1, to understand why truck drivers are drivers.”

‘They have to support a family.’

Avdic said he began brainstorming a solution to the shortage by envisioning what it would be like for someone to be away from his or her home for long stretches of time. CDL drivers want to make money, but they want flexibility and to spend the weekends with their families, he said.

Understanding the diversity of his community in Bowling Green, Kentucky, was an important part of crafting a solution, he said. Bowling Green is home to thousands of refugees from Bosnia, Russia, Somalia and many other countries. Even though many of these refugees were once doctors, lawyers and other professionals in their home countries, now their priority is earning a good living to give their families a high quality of life, Avdic said.

“When they come to the United States, the best paying job they can get is to be a truck driver,” Avdic said. “How you attract those kinds of people is by making them money. They have to support a family. They don’t have time to go back to school. They just want to make money.”

Avdic said Stryker Logistics gives drivers the flexibility they crave and a family-like environment, but remains focused on the drivers’ priorities.

‘Everyone wants to be a part of something like this’

Avdic’s approach has been so successful, the company has already amassed a waiting list even though it is still a young upstart.

“Now we have a waiting list because everyone wants to be a part of something like this,” he said.

The combination of a comfortable income and a flexible schedule has attracted more than 50 applicants to join the waiting list. The company already employs 80 drivers.

Recruiting for Stryker Logistics has been done entirely by word-of-mouth, Avdic said. The company has never marketed that it needs drivers. Instead, Stryker’s drivers tell their friends about their job perks.

“You have 50 waiting when the rest of the industry is struggling to get them, it’s a good stat,” Avdic said.

‘There should be some reward’

Avdic said drivers can go on runs whenever they want to run, and that they aren’t required to do so.

The drivers Avdic meets are often skeptical of the bonuses other companies offer and wonder what the catch is. But at Stryker, he says there is no catch — just honest pay for honest work.

Stryker’s drivers earn a percentage of the shipments they transport, and are paid at a “very competitive” rate, Avdic said.

Because of the time given to the company that requires drivers to be away from home, Avdic said he recognizes “there should be some reward for that” for Stryker’s drivers.

“I’ve spent a lot of time talking to and getting to know these guys,” Avdic said. “They’re not driving a truck to be away from their families. They want to make money and be home. They want flexibility.”

Stryker Logistics is a top logistics provider of technology-driven supply chain solutions to some of the most successful companies in the world, and one of the fastest-growing companies in Kentucky. The Stryker team has built a network of top-quality resources, capabilities and technologies to provide complete door-to-door supply chain solutions. Stryker Logistics provides creative, value-added solutions that improve overall efficiency within its customers’ supply chains. Its services exceed expectations and the commitment is to do “whatever it takes.” Reach Stryker Logistics at 270-594-4149 and connect with us on Twitter, Linked In and Facebook.