Gretna, Nebraska – Custom Diesel Driver Training embarks on a fresh chapter as they establish their presence in Gretna, introducing a brand new fleet of rigs.
This expansion not only marks a significant milestone for the company but also brings forth a renewed commitment to equipping instructors with state-of-the-art tools. Their primary goal? Preparing the next generation of drivers to take the wheel confidently.
Ken Walker, the owner of Custom Diesel Driver Training, underscored the indispensable role of drivers in the trucking industry. “Everything in trucking comes back to the driver. You got to have the driver to be able to produce or deliver the loads,” he remarked. By setting up in Gretna, the training center extends its outreach to Fremont and Lincoln, a strategic move especially given Nebraska’s decline in the number of licensed drivers by around 5,000.
The issue isn’t merely about the quantity of drivers, as Walker explained, “It’s not necessarily one driver. It could be 10, it can be 12, it could be 100.” He stressed the urgency of pivoting from a mere headcount of students obtaining their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) to ensuring they have the financial support to complete their training. Walker highlighted the challenges in the industry: “Our industry is asking people to take an average of 160-hour course but take four to five weeks off of work without getting paid. Plus, pay the tuition on top of that.”
To address this, Custom Diesel has teamed up with JJ&T Transportation. This collaboration has already begun to bear fruit, as evidenced when Mariah Swanson, a prospective student and single mother of two, received a $5,000 check during a press conference.
“Without the scholarship, I wasn’t going to be able to probably go to school here. So that definitely changed my life,” Swanson gratefully shared. She views this opportunity as a chance to offer stability to her children in today’s challenging economy. The scholarship came as a significant relief, enabling Swanson to pursue her dreams and build a lasting career. “Unbelievable. I couldn’t believe it. It was such a relief to know that I would be able to follow through with the school,” she said.