Over-the-road trucking school goes over the cloud to train industry
Months after launching software, Drive509 spinoffs have 40K-plus users
Erica BullockFebruary 2nd, 2023
Jason Boudreau, owner of Spokane Valley-based Drive509 commercial truck driving school, has launched two software companies that are garnering attention within the trucker training world.
One of the companies, CDL PowerSuite, helps trucking schools meet standards for training set by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Such standards went into effect in February 2022. The other company, ELDT.com, is designed to train entry-level commercial truck drivers.
“We actually have over 40,000 users that have been created in the software,” meaning that’s how many people have used it so far, says Boudreau, adding that the first six months after launch were spent fine-tuning the software. “It essentially skyrocketed after three months. We have a minimum of 5,000 users a month now.”
In addition, Boudreau says the soaring popularity of both CDL PowerSuite and ELDT.com have him hoping to work with all federally approved training providers nationwide in the next few years.
“My goal is to have every single training provider registered with the government in a couple of years. It seems crazy because there is over 20,000 of them, but I’ll get there,” he says.
Boudreau also is planning to expand to offer more training services in other industries that require commercial driving skills, including training to include heavy equipment used in the construction industry.
Limelyte Technology Group Inc., of Spokane, helped to develop the software.
CDL is the acronym for commercial driver’s license, and ELDT stands for entry-level driver training.
The federal entry-level driver training rule went into effect a year ago and requires new truck drivers to complete classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction before taking CDL skills or knowledge tests, the department’s website states.
“I simply had a solution that everyone didn’t know they needed until I gave it to them,” explains Boudreau. “The curriculum developed in the software will help anyone train—cities, municipalities, and other schools—with all the curriculum they will need to meet FMSCA regulations and, at the same time, create better drivers.”
Boudreau says that before the federal guidelines were established, there was no standard of training for commercial drivers.
Now, records of a trucking student’s CDL training progress are maintained through a federal registry.
A list of federally approved training providers also will be kept in the online database. The registry requires all CDL training providers, including companies, organizations, public agencies, and individuals, to self-certify that they meet training requirements, according to the registry website.
Boudreau claims the regulation’s minimum standards of training will lead to safer roads.
“Before … you could be an Idaho resident, go get your permit, and go take your test without ever driving a semi on the road,” he says. “And if you passed, you could get a CDL. There was no regulation.”
CDL PowerSuite is marketed to businesses and training providers. The program also offers support for an unlimited number of students, schedules classes, provides curriculum, and includes a student database that captures training data for record keeping and audits and syncs with the government registry.
“(The program) is specialized for my industry to capture all of the training data, and who does the training, and how many hours, and what was trained. And it captures it for the school’s records in case we ever get audited,” Boudreau says.
He adds, “It’s also integrated with the government, and you don’t need to log in to the government’s website to submit this information for every student, which would be a lot. They can do this inside the software.”
CDL PowerSuite offers monthly subscription-based plans priced at between $100 to $300 for training schools and companies, with price depending on the desired services, he says.
The program’s built-in attendance and progress reporting tool shares data about a student’s performance with student sponsors as well.
“Anyone who sends someone to truck driving school, like Drive509 … can actually track and monitor their progress when they’re logged in,” Boudreau says. “They can see everything through that process and how their journey is going. It’s just keeping tabs on those you’re investing in.”
Boudreau describes ELDT.com as an online, self-paced university for truck drivers that also provides a curriculum for entry-level driver-training providers.
ELDT.com offers five learning modules with 30 lessons to meet federal ELDT compliance. Boudreau says it typically takes a day or two to complete each lesson.
The online training courses are available for $25 for each lesson.
The courses also are integrated into the CDL PowerSuite program.
Boudreau says he’s currently working with Spokane-based Tribe Media Lab SPC to update each course with video-led instructional videos that will be included in the lessons this month.
He says ELDT.com makes the training process more efficient.
“It’s giving schools a solution that they can depend on to train people and help mitigate some regulation stress,” he adds.
The cost of each lesson was carefully considered to keep lessons affordable, Boudreau says.
“I know that sometimes $25 is all you have in your pocket,” he says. “Safety shouldn’t come with a price tag.”
He says the 40,000 users are located across the country, including in Florida and Maine in the East, and in California and Arizona in the West.
Eventually, the technology can be applied to other industries that require documented steps for certification or compliance, he says.
“For example, a welding school could use the same process. It would take the person from getting ready to start school, to collecting documents, to their first day of class, to tracking what they’re doing, to printing their certificate. It’s just been tailored to my industry.”
Boudreau says the businesses are profitable already, but he’s not too concerned with the current valuation of his companies.
“Those aren’t really things I sit and think about. When I started my driving school six years ago, I was in a tiny Smart Shop of 5-feet by 5-feet…and grabbing my $420 unemployment check every other week if I didn’t have training to do,” he says. “That was close to 72 months ago and … somehow, I’ve made multiple million-dollar businesses in that amount of time.”
Boudreau says training entities that use the new software can save time and expenses.
“They’d save a headache and a couple of thousand bucks in labor and other expenses,” he claims. “This software actually created workflow for them to be successful. As long as they follow the workflow, which is pretty standard on it, they’ll be successful.”
Boudreau built a second-story office area with a soundproof recording room where future training lessons can be filmed and edited. He and two employees work for both CDL PowerSuite and ELDT.com.
Drive509 currently has 15 employees, and Boudreau operates all three businesses from the 5,000-square-foot Drive509 headquarters building, located at 3620 N. Eden Road, in Spokane Valley.