National Mixer Driver Championship: A much-warranted workforce salute

The National Ready Mixed Concrete Association Workforce Development Committee did not sugarcoat the results of its 2021 Mixer Driver Recruitment and Retention Survey. As we noted in a report last month, survey data shows that 28 of every 100 drivers hired in 2021 quit during the year. That placed ready mixed producers 3 points above the national resignation rate the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for last year. Workforce Development Committee members conceded that mixer drivers were party to the “Great Resignation.”

Survey respondents hired nearly 30,000 drivers in 2021, upward of 40 percent of the industry’s estimated ready mixed concrete delivery professional pool. Almost three quarters of respondents added a familiar refrain, citing as their biggest workforce challenge a dearth of candidate overall. 

Mixer Driver Recruitment and Retention Survey numbers might have been more favorable if 2021 hires or prospective delivery professionals could have observed the enthusiasm, sportsmanship and employer regard exhibited at the 2022 National Mixer Driver Championship. As we see in this month’s report (pages 14-17), the event had a near-record turnout and results that define the spirit of competition. The 2021 champion and runner up traded places in 2022, while both years saw the same competitor finish third. The October 1-2 competition involved 86 drivers representing 40-plus producers across 26 states. It unfolded in optimal weather conditions at the Gaylord Rockies Resort. Like sister Gaylord venues in Florida and Tennessee, the Colorado property offers a sprawling parking area affording the NRMCA Safety, Environmental and Operations Committee a wealth of options to configure the challenge course. 

The 2022 competition showed again how deft the SEO Committee is at evolving the course. This year’s top station addition, “Golf Challenge,” saw five competitors sink a golf ball from an extended, front discharge mixer chute. Committee and NRMCA Truck Mixer Manufacturers Bureau members across the board, along with the drivers’ supportive employers, helped make the 2022 National Mixer Driver Championship one for the records. Champion Joey Melton put an exclamation mark on the event at the awards banquet podium, treating trophy in hand as secondary to an opportunity to salute his 85 fellow competitors and Thomas Concrete colleagues.

Qualified applicants who interviewed with the 2021 Mixer Driver Recruitment and Retention Survey respondents, but ultimately looked outside concrete for their next career stop, might think again if they knew of the potential to be part of an event as superlative as the National Mixer Driver Championship. 

Thomas Concrete’s Joey Melton and Cole County Industries’ Michael Twehus (right) traded places atop the 2021 and 2022 National Mixer Driver Championships.