After being in business for over 70 years, we’ve certainly seen our fair share of challenges in the industry. However, no matter the hurdle, whether it be global economic challenges, staffing shortages, or a worldwide pandemic, our team sees these challenges as opportunities to innovate and reach new heights to better serve our suppliers, retailers, and employees.

Currently, businesses across the country are amid an unprecedented truck driver shortage that is expected to only get worse. In fact, the American Trucking Association (ATA) forecasts more than 162,000 drivers will be needed by 2030—creating yet another challenge for trucking and distribution companies to solve in the near future.

Fortunately, our team at KeHE, guided by Brandon Rowold, Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition, has been hard at work finding a solution to keep our suppliers and retailers moving.

The constant stress of supply chain woes and transportation hurdles have created a ripple effect that can be felt throughout the industry. While it has not necessarily been easy, the situation has given KeHE opportunity to think outside the box and take on the truck driver shortage, as well as other issues KeHE faces.

So, why is there a truck driver shortage? It turns out, there are several reasons.

Fueling the Shortage

The effects of the pandemic and current economic stress can be felt across the supply chain. However, the trucking sector faces many challenges unique to drivers including:

  • Increased demand for drivers
  • An aging workforce that is approaching retirement
  • Stressful conditions and lower compensation
  • More drivers leaving the industry

To help curb these challenges, KeHE launched a program that looks for the next generation of drivers internally. Our Shifting Gears program encourages current warehouse employees to explore new roles within our company. The program sets out to develop drivers from our current employee pool and helps our team pursue new opportunities, as well as receive their commercial driver licenses (CDL).

Shifting Gears Explained

The Shifting Gears program enables us to recruit from existing front-line employees and connect them with current drivers so they can get an accurate perspective of professional driving. After that, if employees are still interested in driving, they can enroll in CDL school to work toward their license. Once licensed, employees then complete a robust training program to get real-world experience and build their confidence. Upon completion, they join the ranks and are ready to go.

The program has received great reception among employees and has proven successful by ways of recruiting and retaining drivers while scaling for the future. Hear from KeHE employee, Arturo Barbosa, who completed the Shifting Gears program on the KeHE Fruit of Your Labor Podcast.

Making the Effort is Paying Off

Trucks move roughly 72.6% of the nation’s freight by weight and are essential to delivering KeHE products to more than 30,000 natural food stores, chain and independent grocery stores, e-commerce retailers, and other specialty products retailers. We are thrilled with the positive results of KeHE’s Shifting Gears program. Since the program was created and piloted in 2013, and rolled out company wide in 2015, more than 100 individuals have completed the program and 85% are still with the company.

If we’ve learned anything over the last 70 years, it’s that you need to be ready for anything, especially after the last few years. It’s imperative to embrace innovative tactics designed to tackle the challenges we face today. We did that with our Shifting Gears program, and now we have a full bench of truck drivers licensed and ready to hit the road to serve suppliers and retailers across North America.

Interested in joining the team? Learn more about KeHE and career opportunities at