ELKHART — A local recreational vehicle transport firm hopes an appeal to military veterans will help address its driver shortage.
Synergy RV Transport Inc. will conduct a job fair from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, April 26, at Disabled American Veterans Post 19, 1205 Middleton Run Road.
"We hear on the news all the time that veterans are having a hard time finding jobs," said Sharon Coleman, a recruiter for Synergy RV Transport. "We find that our veterans make great drivers for several reasons and we wanted to target that group."
Veterans tend to be disciplined and are used to following rules, a necessity when it comes to complying with U.S. Department of Transportation regulations, Coleman said.
Also, many veterans have experience operating heavy equipment and vehicles.
RV transport firms gathered Tuesday at the RV/MH Hall of Fame to address a driver shortage that has left an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 RVs sitting in the Elkhart area, awaiting shipment to dealers around the nation. About 2,000 drivers are needed to eliminate the backlog, according to an estimate by the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association.
Goshen-based Synergy RV Transport, launched in January 2011, has about 187 drivers and would like to have 250 to 275 by the end of May, Coleman said.
She said the company employs about a dozen female drivers, and she hopes more will apply.
Drivers must have their own 3/4- or 1-ton pick-up truck. Some Facebook followers commenting on The Elkhart Truth's story about the shortage Tuesday said the job doesn't pay enough to replace pick-up trucks that wear out every few years. Coleman said that doesn't have to be true if drivers conserve fuel by driving slower and keep up with routine vehicle maintenance, such as changing oil filters.
Synergy RV Transport pays from $1.26 to $1.55 per mile. The $1.55 rate is paid for trips to Canada, which require the driver to have a passport.
Trips within the United States pay $1.26 per mile if the driver lacks a commercial driver's license, and up to $1.45 per mile with a CDL and a trip to eastern states, because many drivers prefer to drive to southern states, Coleman said. Drivers must pay their fuel, food and lodging costs out of that money.
"I tell everybody my husband's been doing this for nine years," Coleman said. "If he wasn't making money, I'd definitely have him doing something else."