Recruitment, retention survey measures mixer driver pool decline

Sources: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.; CP staff

Results from the NRMCA Workforce Development Committee’s 2018 Mixer Driver Recruitment and Retention Survey confirm an increased pressure on ready mixed producers to maintain a healthy concrete delivery professional pool. The survey indicates that the industry’s driver ranks dropped 3 percent between January and December 2017, while 48 percent of respondents reported lost business because they did not have drivers to deliver orders—up 12 percent from last year’s survey (2016 figures).

NRMCA notes a 34 percent year-over-year increase in survey respondents, perhaps illustrating producers’ desire to better understand recruitment and retention challenges. The mixer driver pool remains at about 75,000, roughly the same as reported for 2015 and 2016, while the turnover rate increased last year to 29.1 percent, up from 25.8 percent in 2016. That equates to about 18 percent of the driver pool or 13,500 drivers nationally (quit or released). Nine percent, or 6,600 drivers, were hired and left in 2017, up from 4,800 drivers the prior year. Mentoring new mixer drivers dropped to 74 percent of producers from 85 percent in 2016. Additionally, many producers dropped the mentorship length to less than one month from up to three months in 2016.

In the survey’s four-year history, respondents overwhelmingly have noted their biggest hiring challenge is finding drivers with ready mixed concrete experience. Seventy-six percent of producers will only hire such drivers, passing on commercially-licensed candidates or applicants under 25. Yet the industry managed to hire between 20,000-23,000 drivers each year from 2014 to 2017. 

Mixer drivers’ average age is 46.4 years old, close to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2017 estimated age of heavy equipment commercial drivers of 46.7 years. While mixer driver national tenure dropped to 9.0 years from 9.6 years the previous two years, the BLS reports only 29 percent of American workers have a 10-year-plus tenure with their companies. The ready mixed concrete industry’s level on that benchmark is 45 percent. This year’s survey response rate reflects 28 percent of NRMCA’s estimated 75,000 drivers. The association also estimates the total ready mixed concrete industry employment at 135,000, mixer drivers accounting for 56 percent of that total.