No two fleets are alike. They come in different shapes and sizes, serve a wide variety of industries, and may be publicly or privately owned. But all fleet managers share a similar set of concerns: improving driver safety and vehicle health, finding new efficiencies and, of course, staying fully staffed.

Hiring and retaining qualified driver employees is no easy task. But finding and keeping qualified technicians and mechanics can be even more difficult.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that, in the 10 years leading up to 2024, the heavy-duty trucking industry alone will have grown by 12%, creating tens of thousands of new entry-level service jobs. But those workers don’t yet exist, because the Baby Boomer generation, which is rapidly aging out of the workforce, dominates the field.

To close this gap, industry partners like the Hourglass Foundation are stepping up to organize and fund training programs designed to attract younger workers to the fleet service field.

We May Have to Outsource

In 2011, a MacKay & Co. survey found about 75% of all U.S. fleets handled 100% of service and maintenance work in-house. Four years later, that number had fallen to 68%.

Outsourcing service work adds downtime — for vehicles as well as drivers. It also represents a loss of control. Fleet and shop managers may be able to prioritize which of their vehicles is serviced first, but they still may be in line behind units belonging to other fleets, and they can’t authorize overtime when urgent repairs are needed.

Hiring and retaining qualified driver employees is no easy task. But finding and keeping qualified technicians and mechanics can be even more difficult.

As more fleets struggle to keep their shops staffed and turn to outsourcing, those lines will only grow longer.

Short term solutions could include cycling out older units sooner, using telematics to maximize utilization and reduce wear and tear, and paying closer attention to preventive maintenance to reduce the risk of breakdowns.

In the long term, however, a growing industry will need a growing candidate pool.

Education Is the Answer

The directors of Hourglass Management Corp., Flexco Fleet Services and Innovative Funding Services believe there is more than one path to a successful life and career. That’s why they established the Hourglass Foundation, which accepts monetary donations to support programs specifically designed to introduce younger workers to the fleet service industry.

Since 2017, to further its mission of “Empowering young adults to achieve their dreams in the face of financial adversity,” the Hourglass Foundation has collected and donated funds for trade school scholarships, auto technician courses at community colleges and philanthropic giving — but not every donation has come in the form of cash.

The Hourglass Foundation also accepts vehicles. In fact, they’ll take “Anything with an Axle,” giving fleet owners and operators the opportunity to find a new purpose for old units.

Fleet managers — or any vehicle owner — can go online to donate a vehicle in three easy steps. Hourglass then leverages its asset management expertise to maximize the vehicle’s return on the wholesale market.

The Hourglass Foundation’s father and son leaders, Ron and Chad Shoemaker, have seen firsthand the impact their program has had on their fleet partners’ operations.

“The labor shortage is a serious, ongoing issue of which few fleet managers are not aware,” Chad Shoemaker said. “By giving fleets the ability to contribute not only monetarily but with assets they have on hand, we are working together to solve it.”