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COVER STORY


Sten Sohlberg of Jones Brothers Trucking earns respect the hard way A Little Respect


BY TODD TRAUB ContributingWriter


Once a driver always a driver. Never a driver, well, at Jones Bothers


Trucking you will become one soon enough. One of the distinctive features of


the Missoula-based, flatbed carrier is its requirement that non-drivers entering dispatch, sales and management positions first take to the road to learn to drive a truck. And the new employees don’t just spend a day motoring around the lot; the training stints can last up to a year. “I think it’s important that everybody


in the company and mostly management understands the way the company operates from every perspective, including the driver’s perspective,” said Jones Brothers president Sten Sohlberg. “So that’s kind of where we start with everybody who’s going to be in management.”


The driver emphasis stems in part from


Jones Brothers’ humble beginnings as a one-man, one-truck operation starring company founder Casey Jones, who can still be seen pulling his share of dispatch shifts these days. “It pretty much has set the tone for the


way that the company operates,” Sohlberg said. “We started small and we have no designs on being the biggest company. We’ve grown very, very carefully and not quickly but steadily. “And in the last, probably 10 years


we’ve really focused on training. Not only for our drivers, but all employees. Everybody is very, very knowledgeable about the industry, about their specific job and how it all fits together.” Sohlberg wouldn’t claim that Jones


Brothers is the only company to offer such a training program or even that it was an original idea when he put it in place more than six years ago. But he couldn’t think of


anyone else doing the same thing and as far as he knows, he thought of it, an idea born out of bitter experience. “Really the reason that I started doing


it that way, I didn’t start out on the road,” Sohlberg said. “I’m not the guy who started this company driving a truck, that’s Casey Jones. I started out working for NorthWest Transport, a big LTL company out of Denver. “I was a college kid and all the drivers


thought I was worthless because I didn’t know anything about trucking and it took years and years for me to gain any respect from drivers because I hadn’t been there. I didn’t know what their job was about.” Admittedly, Sohlberg said, even though


prospective employees are told about the driver training well in advance, it has been known to scare a few people off. “It does actually weed out a lot of


people that are not interested in doing that part of the job,” he said. “It works


ROADWISE |


ISSUE 1, 2012 | www.mttrucking.org


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