INDUSTRY: Graymont on the move with local trucking firmsThe headlights of an 18-wheeler flood the highway. Its tractor trailer, once carrying lime, follows a familiar path back to Superior.
By: By Alyssa Palmer/For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
The headlights of an 18-wheeler flood the highway. Its tractor trailer, once carrying lime, follows a familiar path back to Superior.
When thinking about finding employment in the manufacturing industry, trucking may not be the first position to come to mind. But the truck and train transporters who work with Graymont provide a way to ship the company’s product nationwide, making them invaluable to the plant’s general operations.
Graymont of Superior first receives limestone quarried in Michigan. Once transported by self-unloading bulk freighters, Graymont processes the product and ships the finished material to its customers by truck and rail.
“The people who own the trucking companies are the workers,” said Phil Marquis, Graymont Plant Manager. “They work a tremendous amount. They put in a lot of effort. These are small trucking companies with a handful of employees who work hard to bring product to our customers.”
Carl Hanson Trucking and Dave Evans Transports are two trucking companies based in Superior with which Graymont contracts.
Jim Helewski is the truck dispatcher for Carl Hanson. “My father was in trucking and I was in trucking when I was younger.”
Helewski explained that during the recession in the late 1970s, exorbitant gas prices dried up trucking jobs and pushed him to go back to college.
“I then took a hiatus and went into other industries but all that stuff moved away or closed up. But I am back in transportation,” he said.
Vern Bryce, Dave Evans Transports fleet manager, only drives truck three or four times a year now. “But when I do get in the truck, it’s nice,” Bryce said, reflecting on the benefits of the job. “You don’t have someone standing over you watching your every move. You’re independent and you have to be self-motivated.”
Bryce explained the biggest challenges he faced as a trucker were the waiting times — loading and unloading.
“You are moving 80,000 pounds down the highway so you have a lot of responsibility they [the police] do not want you stepping out of line,” said Helewski.
Helewski explained the difficulties on the road: equipment failure, road debris, a blown tire and drunk drivers all pose potential danger to truck operators and are only a few of the reasons drivers need to be on their guard.
“When you are behind the wheel, you have to be on your toes for the whole eleven hours you are allowed to drive,” said Helewski.
The salary range of truck drivers depends on a number of things, Helewski explained. “(It) depends on different miles and different routes. Some loads are more financially rewarding than others.”
He continued by saying the average salary range for a driver is somewhere between $35,000 to upwards of $50,000, based on what they’re hauling and with which companies they are working.
Helewski’s responsibilities in dispatch include coordinating the loads for the customers, assigning the drivers to the loads and making sure the load gets to the customers in a timely manner.
In order to pursue a career in trucking, Helewski and Bryce said one needs to complete a truck-driving course and obtain the required commercial driver’s license (CDL). These courses teach potential drivers the rules of the road and how to properly fill out log books.
“Log books keep track of your hours because there are a lot of DOT (Department of Transportation) rules that need to be followed that pertain to this industry,” said Helewski.
“Then find a company that has a training program where they can get their experience,” added Bryce.
Barb LaLiberte, who works in the customer service and sales sector of Graymont, said the trucking companies are very important to Graymont.
“Without them, we could not move our product; they are a key element to our lime plant,” she said.