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February 22, 2019 2:15 PM, EST

Rachel Lovell Becomes First Woman to Win Transport Topics Recruiter Award

Rachel Lovell and Sue Hensley Rachel Lovell (left) and Sue Hensley. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rachel Lovell, a recruiting manager at Milan Supply Chain Solutions Inc., was named Transport Topics’ Recruiting Professional of the Year after being the first woman nominated for the honor. The presentation was made Feb. 22 as part of the 2019 Recruitment and Retention Conference.

Lovell, who has attended the conference for the past two years, was joined by her husband, Robert, and Milan’s executive team. Milan is a logistics company based in western Tennessee.

Josh Burton

Josh Burton. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

This is the third year that the award, which recognizes recruiting and retention professionals who have excelled in their fields, has been bestowed. Publisher Sue Hensley presented the award at the conference, which was co-hosted by Conversion Interactive Agency, American Trucking Associations and TT.

Alex Cima Jr., director of recruiting at CPC Logistics Inc., and Josh Burton, a sales representative at Team Drive-Away, were the other finalists.

“Each time, they’ve got amazing finalists and I never would’ve thought I’d have been one of them,” Lovell told TT.

Lovell, who has been at Milan for 13 years, started working at the company as a dispatcher when she was 19. It was her first job. She rose through the ranks and encouraged other women who are considering trucking careers to pursue them.

“Don’t be intimidated,” Lovell said. “Don’t give up.”

Recruitment is important for many firms seeking to redress the industrywide driver shortage. ATA estimates that the industry is short at least 50,000 drivers, and that number is expected to climb as older drivers retire. ATA President Chris Spear said Feb. 21 that number will double over the next five years, and he stressed that the industry must hire 1 million workers over the next 10 years just to keep pace with economic demands.

Alex Cima

Alex Cima. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)

Acting on guidance she took away from last year’s Recruitment and Retention Conference, Lovell said she strengthened Milan’s social media presence in 2018 to attract and engage drivers. She started a YouTube channel, for which she shoots all the videos. The company increased its hires by 23% in 2018.

The videos can be short, funny and not necessarily related to trucking, Lovell said.

“Don’t overthink it,” she said. “The quirkier they are, the better. That’s what gets everyone’s attention.”

All three finalists stressed the importance of talking with drivers and understanding their needs. In an attempt to make Milan’s application more driver-friendly, Lovell said she sat down and completed the application. It took her 45 minutes to finish, so she and her team eliminated duplicate questions and made it more concise. The application now takes about 20 minutes to complete.

ALSO AT THE CONFERENCE: ATA’s Bob Costello Predicts Slower Market Growth in 2019

Lovell also recommended creating a culture of support and friendliness at the company. For example, she said the recruiting team regularly meets with the drivers and knows them by name. She said fostering positive relationships adds to the success of Milan’s referral program. In 2018, some 42% of the company’s hires came from referrals.

“Who’s your best salesman? Your driver,” Lovell said.