Lineage Logistics Uses JSP Grants to Train Truck Drives

Posted on Apr 29, 2016

Lineage Logistics"They know how to handle that truck better," says Houston Johnson, Operations Manager for Lineage Logistics in Othello. Lineage Logistics used a Job Skills Program (JSP) workforce training grant through the State of Washington to train their drivers so they could receive Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL).

Lineage Logistics, a cold storage company, has a warehouse across the street from their customer in Othello. Lineage Logistics would send a truck across the street to pick up product to put in their warehouse, Johnson explains. "Extends our reach of customer service," he says. That way, the customer didn't have to worry about getting trucks and getting the product to the warehouse, Johnson says, but could concentrate on what they do best: making French fries. "They don't have to mess with that."

Beth Laszlo, Coordinator for the Center for Business and Industry Services at Big Bend Community College, explained that company policy required the Lineage Logistics drivers who drove the trucks across the street to have CDLs. But to get a CDL is an 8 - 10 week training program that involves 160 hours of driving time, she says. It would have been onerous for the drivers who work and mostly live in Othello to commute to Big Bend Community College to do the training, she points out. "Always think outside the box," she adds with a smile. Working with Guillermo Garza of the CDL program at BBCC, and Lineage Logistics, Laszlo was able to arrange to have the training at the Lineage Logistics site in Othello.

Everything was done on-site, Laszlo says. That includes the physicals, training, drug testing, and final testing. Johnson explains that there was room at the warehouse to do a lot of the driving testing: the backing up and turning around, for instance. For that, the training used Lineage Logistics' trucks. But for the on-the-road training, BBCC sent one of their trucks to Othello. Laszlo proudly points out that 100% of the students passed the training to receive their CDLs. "Saved money and time not to commute to BBCC," Johnson adds.

Johnson says that the drivers became "professional drivers" who take pride in their work and the equipment. "They know that truck from nose to tail." They can handle the truck better and so there is less damage to it. And they are aware of all the safety risks. "They take more pride in their work and equipment and that's priceless," Johnson explains.

BBCC and Linage LogisticsThe Center for Business and Industry Services (CBIS) at Big Bend is a department that the college put together to reach out to local industries, Laszlo explains, and helps companies apply for the JSP grants from the state. Laszlo says the way to get started is to "call me" at the Center for Business and Industry Services. "We want to be a resource," she adds. Applications for next year's funding have to be complete by mid-May to make the first round of reviews on June 1st, Laszlo explains.

One of the benefits of partnering with BBCC is that they "work with the employer from training strategy development to finding instructors to final execution," Laszlo says. She shows off a big white binder that's her "network of experts" from all over the state.

Johnson says that without the JSP grant, the training of the employees may not have happened. Laszlo points out that the grant covered half the cost of training.

Johnson also points out that workers with CDLs will be in high demand and in order to get young people interested in taking the training, programs such as the JSP grants are needed. "It helps if the state helps get people trained."