Growing as they truck safely along
"If you've got it, a truck brought it."
That's what Stinger Transport owner Ron Cholin has always said.
And he's sure that'll never change.
His Prineville trucking company, which has been recognized for its safety, has joined a national movement to educate young people about trucking as a viable career.
"Currently in the trucking industry, there's about a 200,000 driver shortfall nationwide and no solution in sight, so there's a major nationwide push to try and recruit people into the industry," Cholin said. "We're trying to get the word out that there are lucrative careers that don't necessarily have to have a full-blown four-year college degree."
Stinger Transport is participating in a parent's night next week to help spread the word. Brian Nicol at Freightliner Northwest in Redmond is hosting the event at 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20 at the Southwest Lake Court Redmond location.
Parents of regional high school students are welcome to attend the dinner and learn how to encourage their children to consider stable and candidate-seeking careers in diesel technology and transportation.
"We need drivers, we need mechanical techs – we need all aspects," Cholin said. "The need is there, but the bodies aren't."
Stinger Transport, in fact, is looking to hire two truck drivers to add to their team of 11 drivers.
Trucking is nothing new to Cholin.
The Prineville native got his start in the trucking industry in 1978 when he was 19 years old.
He was a driver for many years before starting Stinger Transport in February of 2000.
"Back in my high school days, we were all getting CB radios, and to be cool, you had to have a CB handle," he laughs. "I was raising bees back then through FFA, and that was the only bee part that somebody else hadn't already claimed as a CB handle."
So, years later, when he was trying to come up with a name for his trucking company, he settled on Stinger Transport, a nod to his CB radio days.
These days, Cholin and his wife, Becky, along with their daughter, Sheena Erwin, run things out of their shop off of Lamonta Road in Prineville.
"If it's legal and it'll fit in the trailer and it's going the right way and pays enough, we'll take it," Cholin said of what they transport.
"Les Schwab is our biggest customer," he pointed out, adding that they also haul a lot of windows and doors for Jeld-Wen.
Cholin recently expanded his trucking business when he bought Transtech Carriers, a trucking business in Bend, from owner Larry Larkin.
"We've been working together for years, and he'd come in last spring and said, 'I think I want to retire. How do you feel about buying us out?'" Cholin recalls.
Cholin liked the idea, and at the start of 2019, he finalized the transaction, acquiring equipment and the book of business from Transtech Carrier. Two employees transferred over to Stinger Transport.
They now have 13 trucks and 28 trailers, employing 11 full-time and two part-time drivers, and they run trucks seven days a week.
With the new acquisition, Stinger Transport has expanded services to add East Coast routes, while still maintaining their West Coast routes.
They recently received the Platinum Safety Award from their insurance carrier, Great West Casualty Company. They have been awarded four consecutive years in a row for safe performance.
Most recently, they were awarded a third-place safety award from the Oregon Trucking Association in their division of a million miles or less within Oregon per year.
"We have a really good crew that's running really safe. We're not having crashes, we're not getting tickets, we're not getting out-of-service violations," Cholin said. "I get to accept the award, but it's our crew that earned it."
The Cholins are involved in their community, supporting young athletes and often buying a 4-H or FFA animal at fair time.
They have also taken semi-trucks to driver education classes and had students sit in the driver's seat.
"We set up vehicles in the blind spots, and we run all of the kids and whoever else might be interested through the driver's seat to actually see what we miss or don't miss and can't see and can see," Cholin said.
He also noted that some in the trucking industry are trying to change some rules. Currently, 18-year-olds can drive semi-trucks intrastate but cannot drive interstate until age 21.
"There are some 18-year-olds that can and there are some 50-year-olds that probably shouldn't. It's not an age thing, it's a maturity level," Cholin said. "If we can get the right person, I think I can train an 18-year-old to make him a good driver."
Owner: Ron Cholin
Address: 2400 NW Lieser Lane, Prineville
Parent's Night: 5:30 p.m. Monday, May 20 at Freightliner Northwest, 1203 SW Lake Court, Redmond. RSVP online, https://surveymonkey.com/r/fnwparentnight.