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April 9, 2019

JCCC prepares many students for life on the open road

Left to right: Carlos Barra, Warren Freeman, David Fessenden, Brendan Whisenant

David Fessenden, Senior Transportation Manager, Dot Transportation

When drivers agree to work for Dot Transportation, they sign up for a career – not just a job. David Fessenden, Senior Transportation Manager at Dot Transportation, says statistics prove it.

“Industry average turnover rate is 90 percent. At Dot, we average around 14 percent. That’s exceptional,” he said. “We are looking for professional drivers with good training and that’s why we recruit at JCCC. We’ve done our homework and don’t hire from every training school out there.”

In the last two years, Dot has hired nine JCCC CDL-A completers. In the pre-hire stage, Fessenden personally connects JCCC CDL-A students with Dot drivers. He wants them to ask questions about the industry and, more importantly, hear firsthand about the company’s culture.

“Dot has been family-owned and operated for 60 years, and that shows in the way we treat our employees,” David said. "When you join our team, your family does, too. We work hard to get our drivers home when it counts."

Warren Freeman, Dot Transportation Specialist

Warren Freeman has witnessed a lot in his life. After retiring from a 26-year career in U.S. Army military corrections, he was ready for a career change.

He went to a job fair and started picturing himself in a uniform that wasn’t camouflage. Driving a truck was on his list of ideas, but he felt wishy-washy about it — he didn’t want to be away from his family and he had no experience. But when he started talking to trucking company reps about his options, he started to realize a career on the open road might be exactly what he was after — he could be home every weekend, he could earn a good wage, he could work independently and he didn’t have to move (again).

As a veteran, Warren was eligible to receive tuition and fees to cover the entire cost of JCCC’s CDL-A training. There was minimal paperwork and he was awarded the FMCSA Veteran Grant from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association.

He admitted that during the winter weather he had a couple rookie moments, but he remembered the training he received at JCCC and was able to “pull out of it.”

“The training was exceptional," he said. "I feel equipped to handle just about any situation and they train you to be ready for a game of adjustments. Bringing in recruiters was helpful because I got an idea of the kinds of companies that were looking for good drivers.”

Warren’s trying to convince his wife to register for CDL-A licensure courses at JCCC; then they could tag-team. She’s thinking about it.

For more information, contact JCCC’s Veteran & Military Resource Center at 913-469-8500, ext. 4981.

Carlos Barra, self-employed at As One Transportation

Earning a CDL-A license was a game-changer for Carlos Barra.

Carlos bought his own truck a year after earning his CDL-A with JCCC. Thanks to scholarships, 96 percent of his training costs were covered. Since he’s self-employed, his schedule is more flexible. He usually drives 3,200 miles a week, works six days straight and is home for two or three days.

“I knew I enjoyed driving, but I didn’t realize how much I’d love seeing the country and owning my own business,” he said. “I get a front-row seat on how commerce moves around the country. I like to be part of this positive contribution to society.”

He credits his success, and passing his licensure test on the first try, to JCCC’s dedicated instructors. In fact, the range officer at the licensing bureau told Carlos that the drivers he has tested from JCCC usually perform as well as truckers with six months’ experience.

“The instructors showed us everything about the trucks, and if we didn’t understand it the first time, they’d circle back and help us,” Carlos said. “The range instructors are 100 percent for the students and their techniques gave me a lot of confidence when it came to testing and going solo on the road.”

With demand for drivers at an all-time high, Carlos hopes to own a five-truck fleet by 2021 and keep the fleet growing in the future. He also has plans for an early retirement and wants to start his own foundation to help families in need.

Brendan Whisenant, Director of Safety and Compliance, HP Distribution LLC 

“I think JCCC’s program is fundamentally one of the best in the Midwest,” said Brendan Whisenant, Director of Safety and Compliance at HP Distribution LLC. “JCCC strives for quality over quantity — not just filling classrooms to put drivers on the road.”

JCCC keeps class sizes small and manageable so future drivers get the most out of the program and its trainers.

Brendan’s advice to future drivers: “If you decide you want to be a professional truck driver, go with a program like JCCC. They care about your safety and success beyond their doors.”