Workforce Opportunity Grant Spotlight
Central Louisiana Technical Community College and RoyOMartin
The Central Louisiana Technical Community College partnered with RoyOMartin to teach Commercial Drivers License (CDL) and Timber Harvesting Equipment Operator training programs for the timber industry.
RoyOMartin approached CLTCC with an idea to provide both CDL and timber harvesting training in a unique effort to produce a “sustained fleet of individuals who can harvest and transport raw materials to our manufacturing facilities,” said Ray Peters, Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing at RoyOMartin. “Historically, you had Truck Drivers and you had Equipment Operators. What we would like to do is get to the point where one individual can do both the harvesting of the tree, and also the loading and delivery of that raw material. This was groundbreaking in many ways.”
Instructor Ramon Milano and CLTCC Chancellor Jimmy Sawtelle
Seven RoyOMartin employees went through the program, earning their Class-A licenses and completing the timber-harvesting course. Since then, CLTCC trained an additional 30 in CDL. “So we are looking at approximately 40 folks who now have their Class-A licenses and are starting with probably $35,000- to $45,000-a-year jobs,” said Misty Slayter, Vice Chancellor of Workforce at CLTCC.
“It helped us as a school because it was our pilot Commercial Truck Driving class,” Slayter said. “And with the help of RoyOMartin, we were able to secure equipment from Doggett (Machinery) on loan for us so we could conduct the training exercises with them.”
Although the grant cycle is complete, CLTCC is continuing to offer the CDL course regularly at its Alexandria campus, and it is in talks with Perforex Forest Services, a RoyOMartin subsidiary, to conduct another timber harvesting class, Slayter said. CLTCC campus deans also got together to devise a mobile option that allows the CDL class to be taught in its Ferriday, Leesville and Winnfield campuses on a rotating basis.
“When I first got to the college in early 2015, some of the things we were talking about were dreams, especially in terms of having a CDL program with our very own truck and our very own trailer,” CLTCC Chancellor Jimmy Sawtelle said. “Because of The Rapides Foundation helping us to kind of springboard our initiatives and with some other partners like Gilchrist Construction, we own our own truck, we own our own trailer, we have a full-time instructor and we are offering the training at a very affordable cost, almost half of what private colleges charge.”
CDL Instructor Ramon Milano said the Workforce Opportunity Grant allowed him to retire from his truck-driving career to teach full-time at CLTCC. “I wanted to be home more often for my kids. I had been on the road for over 15 years and with the job, I would come home and miss my own kids. They are growing up and have more stuff going on. I wanted time to be there for those kinds of events. On the road it was kind of hard to do that,” he said. “I love doing what I’m doing, I love teaching. I love for people to go out there and see what I saw when I was out there on the road for a long time, to get the feel of what truck driving is all about. It’s a good industry to be in -- good money, good benefits, you get to travel and see the country. It’s everybody’s dream more or less.”