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Despite recent layoffs, logistics advocate says industry is expanding

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(The Center Square) – Nearly 300 Illinois truckers were laid off from two Chicago-area companies in February, Hillside Logistics in Hillside and DHL Supply Chain in Joliet.

Don Schaefer, president of the Mid-West Truckers Association, said the layoffs are not a sign of a downturn in the trucking and logistics industry, which experienced unprecedented growth.

“A lot of warehouses and intermodal and the big suppliers are repositioning and streamlining,” Schaefer said.

For every warehouse that is laying off drivers or closing, five new ones are being built, he said. When it comes to trucking and logistics, Chicago and the St. Louis metropolitan area are “exploding,” he said.

Laid-off truckers with clean driving records and no alcohol or drug violations should be able to get new jobs quickly, he said.

“Any trucking company will tell you that they are always on the lookout for good drivers,” Schaefer said.

Good drivers are drivers with clean safety records and good drug and alcohol records, he said.

“Companies are looking for them 24/7, 365. They are looking for them non-stop,” Schaefer said.

Post-COVID, companies were in hard-push mode to get supply chains back up and running. Now some of them are course correcting, Schaefer said.

“We’ve seen it in big companies. We’ve seen it in small companies. All across the board,” Schaefer said.

Schaefer is not concerned about Hillside Logistics closing a facility because many more new warehouses are opening.

“Five times that number are building new warehouses to accommodate even more shipments and more supplies that are coming in,” Schaefer said. “The big picture is that we are continuing to grow.”

Schaefer would like to see more young people getting trained to drive today’s trucks, which he said are “500 times better than trucks were 25 years ago.” Beyond the training to drive a big rig, drivers need computer skills and hands-on skills, he said.

“For people with a technical aptitude, it’s a great opportunity. And the pay’s great,” he said.

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