Monarch, colleges team up for driver school

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Local News

May 1, 2019 - 10:28 AM

HUMBOLDT — Kent Webber is cautiously optimistic a collaborative effort between Allen Community College, the Washburn Institute of Technology and Monarch Cement Company will address one of Monarch’s pressing needs — more drivers.

“I can safely say that with our subsidiaries, we could easily take in excess of a dozen, maybe two dozen drivers,” said Webber, Monarch company president.

With that in mind, Monarch reached out to Allen administrators, who in turn have agreed to host a Washburn Tech commercial truck driving course starting May 13.

Completing the six-week course gives graduates a Class A commercial driver’s license, and an opportunity to enter the workforce immediately in many cases, Webber noted.

Monarch is donating a ready mix truck for the class, and two of the company’s subsidiaries, Kansas Sand and Concrete out of Topeka and Concrete Materials out of Kansas City, Kan., each will provide two scholarships, valued at $3,735 apiece.

The scholarship recipients will have a job opportunity waiting for them when they graduate, Webber noted, in exchange for a two-year work commitment.

“If you have a kid coming out of high school, and they don’t know what they want to do, or where they want to go, this is a great opportunity,” Webber said.

The same holds true for anybody else seeking a career change, added Karen Emerson, officer manager at Monarch, and the company’s point of contact for the scholarship program.

“It’s a great way for somebody to get their school paid for, work two years and get some money,’ she said. “Then, if they decide they’d rather do long-haul driving, they have those opportunities.”

Applications are due May 10.

“We haven’t received as many applications as I’d hoped for, but there’s still time,” Emerson  said. “I’m guessing there will be more as word gets out. We’ve talked to high schools, and some of the counselors are excited about it.”

While Monarch needs drivers for its fleet of over-the-road tractor-trailer rigs, the scholarships are dedicated for those who drive the ready mix trucks — those equipped with the distinctive concrete mixer on the back.

There is a substantial difference, Webber noted.

For one thing, long-haul truck drivers must be 21 if they are hauling across state lines; ready mix truckers can be 18, opening the door for high school graduates.

In addition, the ready mix trucks are exclusively for local deliveries, which in turn means the drivers most likely will return home every night. (Monarch’s over-the-road truckers may be on the road for days on end shuttling deliveries within Des Moines, Iowa, Springfield, Mo., Fayetteville, Ark., Tulsa, Garden City, and points in between.)

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