EDGE Young Gun: HR specialist Ralph Romero developing talent at U.S. Xpress

EDGE Young Gun: HR specialist Ralph Romero developing talent at U.S. Xpress

May 1st, 2017 by Dave Flessner in EDGE

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 4/11/17. Ralph Romero, Director of Talent Management for U.S. Xpress, speaks about her team winning multiple awards for excellence in HR while at their company's Chattanooga, Tenn., office on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

Ralph Romero

Age: 33

Job: Director of talent management for U.S. Xpress Enterprises

Education: Bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial and organizational psychology from Valdosta State University

Personal: He and his wife have two children and live in Chattanooga

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga Times Free Press- 4/11/17. Ralph Romero, Director of Talent Management for U.S. Xpress, speaks about her team winning multiple awards for excellence in HR while at their company's Chattanooga, Tenn., office on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Staff Photo by Dan Henry / The Chattanooga...

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

In an industry where the typical driver stays with an employer for only a year or less, Ralph Romero is tasked with developing the talent to limit and manage such turnover at America's biggest privately owned trucking company.

As director of talent management at U.S. Xpress Enterprises for the past year and a half, Romero has already helped develop a couple of innovative management training and development programs, which were recognized this year as among the best for any employer by HR.com, the largest global networking and resource site for personnel managers. For his own part, HR.com recently recognized Romero as the "Best future leader" under 35 in the country.

"Our No. 1 asset is our talent and in order for us to grow as an organization and to be successful, we need to have and develop our people," Romero says. "We've tried to focus on "what do our people need and what gaps in talent do we have that need to be addressed?'"

The trucking industry is especially challenged in its workforce needs since driver turnover averages nearly 100 percent, according to the American Trucking Associations. And it costs more trucking employers $3,000-to-$5,000 to recruit and hire one driver.

Romero is a native of South Georgia who came to Chattanooga in 2012 to work on training for the geotextiles manufacturer Propex. The 33-year-old HR specialist said he was attracted to U.S. Xpress by the company's innovative and collaborative culture.

Amanda Thompson, the HR director at U.S. Xpress for the past 16 years, said Romero helped the company to create the award-winning talent development programs while gaining widespread participation from other managers and employees.

"He's very innovative and creative in his approach and encourages the participation and collaboration of all of the business owners that he supports," she says. "I have not seen somebody come in and so methodically lay out a program from start to finish the way that Ralph has has done."