SALINA – When Salina Area Technical College started its Commercial Truck Driving program in 2015, it was with the support many local trucking companies, including Great Plains Trucking, which donated the use of a semi and trailer for a year. The company renewed that annual donation in 2016 and 2017.
For 2018, the company has instead made the donation permanent.
“We decided it was time,” said Brett Weis, President of Great Plains Trucking. “We wanted to get the program off the ground and make sure it was going to be successful. It is, and it was time to just turn over the equipment and let Salina Tech have it.”
Weis said his company currently employs three graduates of Salina Tech’s Commercial Truck Driving program, and has employed a total of seven since the program started.
“We’re very happy with them, the training is going very well,” Weis said, adding he’s been impressed with David John, who joined Salina Tech in March of 2017 as new director of the truck driving program.
John had previously served nearly 20 years in the United States Army, most recently as Truck Master for the 24th Composite Truck Company at Fort Riley, where his duties included supervising the truck driver training program. Prior to that, he was an Instructor/Writer with the 58th Transportation Battalion at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri where he planned, prepared, wrote and presented training on semi truck driving and maintenance for more than 4,000 students each year.
“I’m really happy that David is out there,” Weis said. “He’s very motivated and energetic – he’s bringing some real energy to the program.”
Weis said the truck and trailer are worth about $30,000.
Salina Tech President Greg Nichols said the truck and trailer are a valuable addition to the college.
“It says a lot that Great Plains decided to hand us the keys,” Nichols said. “We rely on these kinds of partnerships, not only for equipment but also for their knowledge in their specific industries.”
Salina Tech’s eight-week Commercial Truck Driving program is offered four times a year, and the college is working with Manhattan Area Technical College to see about serving the Manhattan area as well.