Pain at the pump? Blame a driver shortage in region, not gas shortage
Product prices also likely to rise due to driver shortage
The Roaring Fork Valley won’t be experiencing gas shortages anytime soon, according to Grier Bailey, Executive Director for the Colorado Wyoming Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.
But a trucker shortage throughout the United States will have an impact on product prices overall in the Roaring Fork Valley and beyond.
Bailey said there is a shortage of truckers in the region, but the truckers hauling petroleum are tried and true to the Western Slope area.
“The drivers that service the western part of the state are some of the most experienced drivers in the industries,” Bailey said. “It makes our drivers pretty dedicated. It doesn’t diminish the industry wide problem we have. The driver shortage is going to be hitting prices as logistics becomes more expensive at the wholesale distribution level.”
Erica Denny works for her family business Denny Transport, LTD, of Commerce City, which has a fleet of 125 trucks for over-the-road, which means hauling over long distances, of mostly refrigerated goods.
“Regarding the Western Slope — honestly regarding the entire state — prices are going to go up unfortunately,” Denny said.
In order for Denny to keep truck drivers working for her family’s company, they’ve had to increase pay substantially.
“Even with that, we’ve had plenty of trucks sit empty because there’s such a shortage,” Denny said. “With that means the number of trucks moving is obviously lower, and the economy currently is booming, all over the country.”
Denny said people are going back to work and are starting to travel and dine out more as COVID-19 restrictions lax.
“On the tourism side of things, people are starting to become more open to travel,” Denny said. “People are spending money. Anytime you buy something, it has to be shipped. Anytime it ships, at some point, it’s going to touch a truck.”
Denny said the more products and services people are wanting to buy combined with a shortage of truck drivers to haul those products to them creates a very challenging dynamic.
“Shippers have to pay a premium rate just to get a driver to pick up their product,” Denny said.
“The spot market — which is where you name your price — a lot of times it’s controlled by the shipper, and now it’s controlled by the carriers.”
That extra cost is going to reflect on the consumer, Denny said.
“As far within tourism locations, different restaurants may or may not have different menus just to afford their costs,” Denny said.
Recruiting new drivers isn’t an easy task, Denny said, noting that her company is currently looking at apprenticeship programs to help new drivers get their commercial driver’s license (CDL).
“Essentially, we’d bring somebody on and help them get their CDL, then they have to go through training and be mentored and be able to be put out on their own,” Denny said.
Denny is also working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to try to come up with different ways to market the industry to different people.
“We’re thinking military or inner city type people that don’t realize this is a viable option,” Denny said.
Denny said truck drivers can easily make $60,000 to $100,000 a year.
“At the end of the day, it’s not glamorous, it’s not sexy — it’s trucking,” Denny said. ‘It has to happen for the economy to continue. It’s hard work, it’s gritty but it’s a lot of fun for those of us that get into it.”
Colorado Gas prices per gallon
Garfield County prices per gallon
Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.