‘People aren’t motivated to get off the couch,’ TDDS owner says of shutting down truck driving school

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LAKE MILTON, Ohio (WKBN) – Everybody keeps saying there’s a shortage of truck drivers. Now, one place that trains them has gone out of business.

The trucks are parked at TDDS in Lake Milton. The school of transportation careers has suspended all training operations.

“It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life. This has been a family business for 48 years,” said CEO Rick Rathburn.

Rick Rathburn used the Paycheck Protection Program for employees but had to lay off the staff Friday. There were just not enough students, but he’s been able to get the current ones into other schools, saying that was his “top priority.”

Rathburn’s dad started TDDS in 1973. It revved in high gear with 200 students a year. When the coronavirus hit, enrollment slumped. It had nine students in the last two classes combined.

“People are not motivated to get off the couch, put the remote down and get out there and get an education. Go into an industry that is still dynamic, and the wages are incredible,” Rathburn said.

Rathburn shifted and had some success recruiting minorities and women but struggles to understand why interest in trucking is low. He found it surprising since truck drivers were heroes last year, transporting medical supplies and food.

“Brought everybody their toilet paper, the most important thing, I guess,” he said. “They didn’t stop during this pandemic. They kept going. I still think they are the coolest people out there.”

Rathburn believes there are good minds, and some people may have fresh ideas on changes. but the school had to close.

“We’ve probably trained about 20,000 people in 48 years. Put people to work and into good jobs to take care of their families, and I hope people appreciate that,” he said.

TDDS also had a $1 million payroll and spent another $1 million last year for goods and services from local businesses.

TDDS stands for Truck Driver Development Service, a name Rathburn’s dad never really liked.

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