Swift Academy: A Port Success Story | Port of Lewiston

Swift Academy: A Port Success Story


Swift is integral to the region’s intermodal transportation and economy

In three weeks of intensive training students at Swift Academy become semi-truck drivers. Among other tasks, they must successfully navigate 18 wheels and a 53-foot trailer down a formidable grade.

“The best training grade anyone could ask for is the Lewiston hill,” said  Stephen Bartman, Swift Academy Leader. “It is a little bit of a challenge, but my instructors are wonderful. Once the initial fright is over, it all comes down to learning.”

Of course, there’s more to becoming a truck driver than just a few weeks of training. First, Bartman, says, “you have to want it” because being a truck driver is difficult and demanding work. Prerequisites to attend the academy include a completed physical through the Department of Transportation and passing the written state test for a CDL driving permit. A comprehensive list of criteria can be found at www.swifttruckingjobs.com. After completing the 3-week training, drivers must log 200-240 hours with a training mentor before they are ready to go it alone.

But, if you can make it through, driving a truck can be a fulfilling career.

“One reason people are attracted to this industry is, in certain ways, they are their own boss,” said Bartman. “The sky is the limit as long as you fall in with regulations. The country is so vast and diverse; there’s beauty everywhere you go.”

There’ll also likely be jobs everywhere you go. Bartman says the nation, as a whole, is short an estimated 300,000 drivers.

“The driver shortage is nationwide, in all aspects of the industry,” he said.

Drivers who go to work for Swift after completing the academy and stay on with Swift for at least 26 months will have the bulk of the cost to attend school repaid to them by the company.

The Swift Academy opened here in the early 90s. A new session starts each week and the academy can accommodate up to 15 students per class.

“The academy and Swift’s Lewiston Terminal are long-term tenants in Northport and an integral part of intermodal transportation here in the valley,” said Port of Lewiston President Mike Thomason. “Swift also plays an important role in the local economy by keeping many jobs here and by bringing students through intermittently who spend money in our local community while they are in school.”

The academy currently employs 11 instructors and the Swift Terminal is home to approximately 30 employees. Also, nearly 300 drivers are based out of the Lewiston terminal, said Bartman.

Mike VanTrease, Swift Terminal Leader/Vice President, said the Northport location provides easy access to Highways 12 and 95.

“Overall Northport provides a great location for our academy and terminal,” said VanTrease. “We have great neighbors. Also, Port commissioners and staff are always willing to work with us when needs arise. Conducting business in Lewiston would be much more difficult without the Port as a supportive landlord.”