Driving Success: Our Class-A CDL Driver Apprentice Program Paves the Way


We live by our tagline, We Deliver More®, and we are excited to celebrate how we do so through our Class-A CDL Driver Apprentice Program. So far in 2023, we have proudly graduated nine skilled drivers, all of whom have excelled in completing their training. With drivers being a crucial part of our success, we recognize the significance of cultivating our internal talent, as it is not only a solution to the national driver shortage issue but also a rewarding career path for our employees.

In a labor market facing a national shortage of drivers, hiring and retaining quality professionals has become increasingly challenging (and unfortunately, all signs point towards the shortage worsening). However, at Palmer-Donavin, we have taken a proactive approach by investing in our people and providing them with opportunities to grow within the company. Our “Driver Apprentice Program”, is a development program, with which we recruit internally from our distribution and manufacturing operations as well externally for applicants looking to obtain their CDL. In most cases, employees with zero commercial driving experience get the opportunity to do “ride-alongs” and shadow days with Palmer-Donavin drivers to determine if driving is a career path they would like to follow.

Once an employee has raised their hand to participate in the program, Palmer-Donavin takes a hands-on approach in delivering comprehensive training (from getting their Class-A license, to learning about our equipment, to teaming-up with current drivers to learn best practices). All in, the program typically lasts 4-6 months depending on a number of factors including business volume and the readiness of our trainees. We incentivize employees to join this program by offering a raise to hourly wages to join the program and an additional raise once they complete the program and join our driving team. One of the major selling points of the program is that Palmer-Donavin routes are local, home every night positions with steady hours and great job security.

The Driver Apprentice Program is a win-win for both our employes and Palmer-Donavin, says Shane Ettore, Sr. Corporate Recruiter at Palmer-Donavin.

“When we are recruiting candidates for roles at Palmer-Donavin, we are intentional about their development goals. We love when candidates demonstrate interest in furthering their career and picking up skills and experience. Obtaining a Class-A CDL license and being taught how to drive from some of the best drivers in the industry is a great way for our employees to develop and significantly increase their earning potential”, says Ettore.

Drivers are critical to the success of Palmer-Donavin. In fact, we wouldn’t exist without them! Not only do we need safe, skilled drivers, but we are also looking for professionals that demonstrate excellent customer service. In many cases, our customers see our drivers more than our sales team, which is why it is an added benefit to recruit internal employees who have been exposed to other areas of our business. This exposure to the business gives them a well-rounded view and deep knowledge to draw on when helping our customers.

Developing the product and industry knowledge to be successful as a driver at Palmer-Donavin can take some time, says Dave Wall, Regional Director of Operations at Palmer-Donavin.

“Recruiting from within gives our Driver Apprentices a huge advantage on not only knowledge of how we operate and what we value as a company, but they have first-hand experience with all the products that we distribute and come better prepared to handle the challenges presented while out in the field. It also presents a unique opportunity for the employee to gain a skill that can be carried with them throughout the rest of their career.”

As we celebrate the achievements of our Class A CDL Driver Apprentice Program, we extend an open invitation to all potential drivers who share our passion for excellence and dedication to customer service. If you’re seeking a fulfilling and rewarding career as a driver, Palmer-Donavin is the place to be. Our commitment to nurturing talent, providing top-notch training, and supporting our drivers’ professional growth sets us apart from the rest. At Palmer-Donavin, We Deliver More.

About the Author

Tom Rodgers

Director of Talent Acquisition at Palmer-Donavin

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