Meijer Donates Trucks to NMU Program

Friday 27, 2018

Grand Rapids-based retailer Meijer has donated two reconditioned semi-trucks and trailers valued at about $100,000 to Northern Michigan University’s new CDL Truck Driving Program. Students who complete the intensive course should be ready to test for a Commercial Driver’s License and begin their careers in five weeks. The first session begins May 21 at NMU’s Jacobetti Complex.

NMU President Fritz Erickson and Marquette Meijer Store Director John Spaulding announced the donation Friday morning at the retailer’s US-41 West location.

“This is an extraordinary gift that will help us launch an educational program to meet high industry demand,” said Erickson. “We thank Meijer for this investment, and for its faith in Northern to train the highest-quality CDL drivers for Meijer and other companies throughout the region. We’re so delighted that the company has located a store here. Meijer has a long tradition of establishing community partnerships. This tangible demonstration of that is very exciting.”

“Meijer strives to be a good neighbor throughout the communities we serve, and are pleased our retired vehicles will be put to good use by Northern Michigan University students learning a very important skill,” Spaulding added. “We look forward to opening our Marquette store next month, and being part of this strong community for years to come.”

The vehicles had previously been part of the Meijer fleet. Both have been reconditioned and prepped for NMU use, with new tires, maintenance inspections and new graphics.

NMU’s Continuing Education & Workforce Development Department established the new CDL Truck Driving Program based on high industry demand. Positions pay an average $18 per hour in the Upper Peninsula. The need for such programs is projected to increase over the next decade, fueled largely by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s entry-level driver training rule.

Beginning in February 2020, the FMCSA will enforce comprehensive national training standards for entry-level commercial truck and bus operators seeking to obtain a CDL. The ruling will also impact businesses with unfilled CDL driver needs.

“Everything’s going to change for the industry when that goes into effect,” said Stephanie Zadroga-Langlois, director of NMU Continuing Education & Workforce Development. “Right now, if you think you’ve got a good handle on driving a truck and have a truck available to you, you could go and take the test without going through a training program and hope to pass it. It’s hard to do, but the opportunity exists. As of 2020, it will be an absolute requirement that entry-level drivers attend a training program.”

NMU’s curriculum will match federal requirements in anticipation of the FMCSA ruling and be taught by certified truck driver education providers. In addition to the opening session May 21, future five-week courses are scheduled to begin July 9, Aug. 20 and March 18, 2019. The cost for classroom and driving instruction is $4,000 per session.

“Companies sometimes find it hard to fill openings for CDL positions,” Zadroga-Langlois said. “We’ve watched the industry and know the demand is forecast to remain high for several years. It’s a good job that ranges from Over the Road (OTR) drivers who travel the country to regional delivery and transit drivers who are home every night for dinner.”

For details on the program, visit


Kristi Evans
News Director

Trucks outside new store

Dignitaries at announcement

Spaulding shakes hands with Erickson