Covenant Transport handed out $88,000 in its new team bonus program last month to 44 teams that eclipsed the 60,000 miles together to earn the company's new $2,000-per-team bonus.
Covenant's team driver bonus plan was unveiled in February and provides up to $40,000 a year in bonuses to driver teams that complete enough miles.
Hundreds of other drivers are on pace to receive bonuses this month, Covenant officials said.
Rob Hatchett, vice president of recruiting, said the teaming bonus program is designed to reward new and existing team drivers, and prove Covenant is the premier employer of team drivers.
"We specialize in teams, and we created this program to not only cement our place as the leading team carrier in the country, but also to prove to our people that we value them and want them here," Hatchett said. "Now, our folks and others in the industry are seeing this program isn't just an empty promise, this is real."
Other Covenant leaders said the teaming bonus sets Covenant apart in a market characterized by across-the-board hikes in driver pay and promises.
"Teaming is our niche, and has been since day one," Covenant President Joey Hogan said. "We want to always attract and retain top talent, and we want to do that by putting real rewards in our peoples' hands. And with this program, that's what we're doing."
Covenant and other trucking companies are raising pay, and paying bonuses, to attract enough drivers to haul freight as demand rises and unemployment declines. The American Trucking Association (ATA) estimates there is a shortage of up to 60,000 drivers across the country this year and the labor shortage is expected to worsen over the next decade.
. "If things do not change, we could get to 175,000 short by 2026," said Bob Costello, a senior vice president of the ATA.
Hogan said the teaming bonus at Covenant is aimed at rewarding those driving the success of the company.
"Professional drivers are our front line," he said. "They make sure our customers are happy, and that we do what we promise. So this is our way of thanking them for their hard work, loyalty and commitment."