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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tim Norlin, vice president of driver employment at Roehl Transport, was named the Transport Topics Recruiting Professional of the Year on Feb. 21 at the Recruitment and Retention Conference, an event he has attended for 16 years straight.
Conversion Interactive Agency, an advertising firm that specializes in recruitment, hosted the event in conjunction with Transport Topics and American Trucking Associations. TT Publisher Sue Hensley presented the award, which recognizes recruiting and retention professionals who have excelled in their fields.
Norlin, who has been with Roehl for nearly three years, was supported at the event by colleagues DuWayne Swan, a recruiting manager, and Daniel Walton, a professional driver.
Roehl Transport ranks No. 76 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.
Norlin said the award was an affirmation of his work and noted that he couldn’t have won it without his team and marketing partners.
“This is important work that we do. Without trucking, our entire economy stops,” Norlin told TT. “Everybody that’s in recruiting should go home every day with their heads held high when they see trucks running up and down the roads delivering freight.”
Norlin has held various roles in operations and sales since joining the industry in 1988. His first job out of college was working on loading docks for a less-than-truckload carrier. During his time as a terminal manager in the 1990s, he reached out to the person who ran recruiting, and she became his mentor, eventually steering him to recruiting.
Norlin said his experience with various trucking roles has helped him as a recruiter because it has allowed him to learn about different positions in the industry.
“I’ve worked with drivers, I’ve worked with the loaders, I’ve worked in maintenance,” Norlin said. “I got to spend time in all those different areas of the company.”
The nominees for for the award were Melody Dunn (from left), senior recruiter for Covenant Transport Services, Norlin, and Melissa Nishan, vice president of driver recruiting for Epes Transport System. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)
Also nominated were Melissa Nishan, vice president of driver recruiting for Epes Transport System, and Melody Dunn, senior recruiter for Covenant Transport Services. Covenant ranks No. 42 on the for-hire TT100.
The nominees agreed that managing driver expectations and ensuring that prospective hires and operations teams have accurate information were important.
“Retention starts with recruiting. It really does,” Norlin said. “When we tell a driver they’re going to average 2,400 miles per week, they expect that. That has a lot of weight with drivers.”
Roehl recently conducted a marketing campaign to shift the brand from being a starter company to a “destination carrier,” Norlin said. He noted that Roehl is a particularly popular carrier for experienced drivers. Although many entry-level drivers are on the younger side, he said some drivers, such as Walton, were making a second career out of truck driving.
ATA has reported the industry was short 60,000 drivers as of last year. Norlin said he and his team found success by creating videos of drivers on the job. They filmed the drivers working and answering questions about their roles, which he said was valuable for prospective hires.
Host Seth Clevenger went to CES 2020 in Las Vegas and met with Rich Mohr of Ryder Fleet Management Solutions and Stephan Olsen of the Paccar Innovation Center to discuss how high-tech the industry has become. Listen to a snippet above, and to hear the full episode, go to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.
Norlin also said he saw a performance spike among his team of recruiters when some of them started working odd hours, which enabled them to reach more drivers. He stressed the importance of getting people to understand what it’s like to be a truck driver, such as working long hours.
“This is a tough job,” Norlin said. “We’ve really got to respect the drivers’ time. Drivers aren’t machines. They drive machines, but they’re not machines.”
Norlin said the best recruiters are outgoing and tenacious. He pointed out that skills as a salesperson can translate to different fields. For example, he said one of the recruiters on his team used to sell cellphones.
“Recruiting is a skill, and if you’ve got that skill, you’re worth your weight in gold to companies like mine,” Norlin said. “Sales is sales. You’ve just got to know the product that you’re selling, and in our case, the product we’re selling is a long-lasting career.”
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