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Creating Opportunity at NW White:  How Dump Trucks Can Carry Workers to a Great Career

Josh Chappell grew up in the shadow of his grandfather’s dump truck company; although he loved and understood the family business, he wanted to strike out on his own after high school. Twenty years later, however, he found himself back in the trucking world, having come full circle but bringing new skills to the table in his new career with N.W. White & Company.

Born in South Carolina

N.W. White is a locally-grown dump trucking company that began with four trucks in 1952 and now boasts one of the largest fleets in the Southeast. It has been a fixture in South Carolina for more than seven decades and is a proud community partner, most recently teaming up with Be Pro Be Proud SC upon the launch of the private-public workforce development project in 2020. Be Pro is a non-profit dedicated to introducing middle- and high-school students to skilled professions such as Commercial Truck Driver and Diesel Technician, two of many career opportunities available at N.W. White’s seven locations throughout the state. Most of these opportunities do not require a college degree, which makes them attractive to those who may not have the interest or the financial ability to spend another four years in school.

N.W. White has many long-term employees; when you accept a job there — or at its sister-company, C.R. Jackson — you can look forward to years of professional guidance, growth, and support from the whole team. A high school graduate can come to work and learn the trade from the ground up: general car repair, brake and body work, gas and diesel engine tune-ups, welding, diagnostics, etc. From there, you could choose to get a CDL certification and get behind the wheel of one of their 300 trucks, or you could venture inside to learn dispatching and cost estimating. The opportunities are limitless, and the culture is based on the pride of a job well done — every time.

All Roads Lead Back Home

A career path for most people is seldom straight. Case in point:  Josh Chappell, who essentially wound up traveling “full circle” away from — and then back into — the trucking industry in which he was raised.

Josh — currently a Fleet Manager/Dispatcher — grew up in the world of dump truck hauling:  his grandfather owned a mid-sized trucking company and hauled for both Mr. Jackson and Mr. White, of C.R. Jackson and N.W. White, respectively, back in the day. Josh loved the business and loved his grandfather, but he wanted to strike out on his own after high school. He originally wanted to be a civil engineer and took advantage of his school district CTE center to take several CAD classes, even being given the privilege of designing the entrance sign to a Lexington County neighborhood under construction at the time. To this day, he takes great pride in seeing his creation as he drives down the road, something that he says is very common in many professions within the world of skilled trades.

Josh worked for many years in retail sales management, taking coursework in Business Management through Midlands Tech and then transitioning to the AV Tech side of things along the way, but a pause in his career prompted him to return to trucking in his mid-30’s by earning his CDL certification and getting on the road with a local hauling company. He enjoyed the work and embraced the new skills he was learning; he even became a driver trainer and used his previous work and educational experience to rewrite their training syllabus.

Josh ended up at N.W. White two years ago, being hired initially as a driver but quickly transitioning to the Dispatching and Fleet Management side of the business. A big part of his job is ensuring that he and his team have the trucks in the right place at the right time; this requires creativity and sometimes quick thinking, since road, weather, and job site conditions can change in a heartbeat. His knowledge of a driver’s challenges, his familiarity with site locations and personnel, and his ability to communicate comfortably with drivers makes him valuable in this position. Josh states confidently, “As a former driver, I have the trust of the drivers. I am able to begin building that relationship as early as the first interview.” In addition to his in-office duties, Josh takes time to do site visits to stay abreast of the latest field conditions, project status, and logistical challenges in order to create the most logical and efficient schedule for the drivers each day.

Q & A with Josh

“Typically we need our drivers to be at least 21 years old. That being said, 18-year-olds could come to work as a mechanic with us or with our sister company, C.R. Jackson, and learn the ropes from there. They can also get a CDL certification during that time, which is always going to be a valuable thing to have because of the opportunities that open up to anyone who carries one. 

  • So you don’t require applicants to have taken any tech school classes before applying?

“Again, college is NOT necessary to be successful at NW White; what IS necessary is the willingness to work hard and the maturity to understand how to listen respectfully to the experienced workers around you. A general interest and basic familiarity with cars/trucks would certainly be useful, too; this is where the CTE centers in high school prove beneficial.  But being willing to learn new things — regardless of age — can take you places you never thought you might go.”

  • As a parent, would you tell your son or daughter to consider a job in this field after high school graduation?

“Absolutely. Although I know that my own daughter has a specific interest that will require a degree for her, I have encouraged her to take courses at her district CTE center to allow her to explore new skills and to see other options. I would be just as proud of her if she opted for a field like trucking that she could pursue right out of high school…and I would probably save a little money, too! We have talked about the fact that there are so many ways to make a good living; some of them demand extra schooling, and some of them allow you to begin making money right away while honing the skills you need. Both are valid options, so I’ve asked her to consider them BEFORE graduating so she is ready for the next step when the time comes.”

  • What skills are needed to work at NW White as a Dispatcher?

    • Communication Skills (phone and radio): “Dispatchers talk to customers all day long on the phone, and they use the radio to talk with the drivers. You can’t be timid or unclear about what you need or what the client or the driver needs.”

    • Organization Skills: “Dispatchers need to react to changing conditions and be ready to adjust driver schedules throughout the course of a day. They need to keep everything straight to avoid confusion.”

    • Math: “Dispatchers provide cost estimates to customers and need to understand how to use certain formulas to generate the quotes.”

    • Patience: “The dump truck industry is ‘consistently inconsistent,” which means that a schedule rarely stays the same from the beginning of the day to the end. Weather and worksite conditions can affect timing, which can interfere with other scheduled runs. Both dispatchers and drivers need to be prepared for change at any time in order to satisfy the client’s expectations.”

    • Initiative: “The best employees don’t wait for something to happen TO them; they MAKE things happen by taking the initiative to solve a problem. For instance, if a driver can’t reach his site contact on arrival, get out of the truck and go FIND someone who can help – definitely don’t just sit in the truck and make excuses about why you are behind schedule on the assignment. Employees who show initiative will find themselves being offered opportunities they never may have known about because people will NOTICE them.”

Summing It Up

Josh Chappell is just one among the hundreds of employees at N.W. White enjoying financial and career success because of their work in the trucking industry. N.W. White is a strong supporter of workforce development efforts like Be Pro Be Proud SC; the dump truck company works both internally and throughout communities statewide to encourage the next generation of professionals to get to work. Now is the time — what are YOU waiting for?

See more inspiring stories like this one from Be Pro Be Proud SC HERE.