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Paving the Road to Driving for a Living: When Do You Need a CDL

When a CDL is required to operate equipment

The United States economy depends on truckers to do more than just get from Point A to Point B in a safe manner. Truckers are essential to anything from keeping grocery store shelves stocked to completing construction and infrastructure projects. Because trucks are everywhere, so are employment opportunities. The only requirement is a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

Drivers can obtain three basic classifications. What additional endorsements you may need depends on what items are being transported. These endorsements are subject to additional testing. The more specialized, the more money a driver could potentially earn.

Drive a Ledwell Hydraulic Tail Truck with a Class B CDL

The Texas Department of Public Safety defines the CDL types as:

Class A 

A Class A CDL enables the holder to operate a combination of vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more, provided that the weight rating of the towed vehicles is more than 10,000 pounds. This type of license is mandatory for driving heavy-duty equipment such as single-axle dump trucks with attached trailers, heavy-duty tractors with hydraulic tail trailers, and bulk feed trailers.


Class B 

A Class B CDL allows the holder to operate a single vehicle weighing 26,001 pounds or more or tow a vehicle not exceeding 10,000 pounds GVWR. Additionally, it permits the operation of any vehicle intended for the transportation of 24 or more passengers, including the driver. However, if the skills test is completed in a bus weighing less than 26,001 pounds GVWR, the license holder will be restricted to operating buses under that weight. This license type is necessary for operating medium and heavy-duty trucks, such as water trucks, rollbacks, and hydraulic tail trucks.


Class C

A Class C CDL authorizes the holder to operate a single vehicle or combination of vehicles that do not fall under the Class A or B category. This license permits the operation of vehicles designed to transport 16 to 23 passengers, including the driver or vehicles used for transporting hazardous materials that require the vehicle to be placarded. Placard equipment, such as vacuum trucks, would require a Class C CDL. Endorsements may be necessary for transporting hazardous materials.

A Commercial Driver License Permit (CLP) must be obtained and activated for at least 14 days before taking CDL skills exams.  CLPs are required of drivers applying for CDLs for the first time, upgrading their CDLs to another class, or adding passenger/school bus endorsements to their CDLs.

A driver must attend an approved Entry Level Driver Training (ELDT) program to complete the initial CDL requirements.  Programs under the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) meet the required Commercial Truck Driving training guidelines.  TWC has a complete list of programs available, tuition costs, and class of vehicle covered.

While CDL grants and tuition assistance programs are available to cover training expenses, many trucking companies provide tuition reimbursement for a Class A CDL.  Therefore, having a CDL more than pays for itself; it is an investment in a career that could go anywhere.

Ultimate Solution for Portable Hydraulic Power

Portable hydraulic power unit

The Ledwell Self-Contained Unit is the perfect solution to provide portable hydraulic power.

Thanks to its powerful engine-driven pump, this innovative unit allows you to operate any Ledwell Trailer with any tractor.

Self-Contained Units reduce downtime by providing enough power to fully operate any HydraTail Trailer, even when a tractor with a wet kit is unavailable. Its portable and compact design allows the unit to fit on the top deck of any trailer with the help of a forklift to put it in place.

Power units include a pressure and return hose to make the connection seamless. It offers the flexibility to use any tractor to move your trailers without worrying about hydraulic connections.

This unit includes a compact, high-quality 18-horsepower engine with an electric start that provides reliable power to the hydraulic system.

Its impressive 15 GPM hydraulic pump ensures you can fully operate any Ledwell HydraTail Trailer, from the winch to the hydraulic tail, without needing a tractor’s PTO.

Ledwell’s Self-Contained Unit is a game-changer for those that rely on trailers to deliver equipment daily.

With this pony motor, you no longer need to worry about matching certain tractors and trailers. Its design makes it a convenient and efficient portable hydraulic power solution that moves you forward.

Fostering a Community of Growth

Ledwell hosts signing day

Ledwell takes great pride in its commitment to growth and community development. To showcase this dedication, our Education Outreach Team organized a signing day that served as a platform to welcome talented individuals who will join Ledwell this summer.

Signing Day was a special event celebrating the achievements of high school graduates pursuing a manufacturing career.

Ledwell hosts signing day for local high school students
Ledwell attends Pleasant Grove signing day

Deoriq Dixon, Xavier Nash from Atlanta High School, John Calvin, and Perry Hack from Pleasant Grove High School were among those we welcomed into the Ledwell family. These talented individuals have shown exceptional promise and dedication, making them stand out in their pursuit of a career in the industry.

The company’s innovative approach to recognizing high school graduates entering the manufacturing workforce serves as an inspiration to the next generation. The achievements of these four individuals demonstrate that success is attainable through alternative educational pathways.

The hope is that this event sends a powerful message to young individuals that they can build a fulfilling and prosperous career in manufacturing, utilizing their unique talents and skills.

Ledwell welcomes these new employees with open arms, ready to support and empower them on their journey to success.

Atlanta Texas High School Senior at Ledwell Signing Day
Atlanta High School Senior at Ledwell Signing Day
PG High School Senior at Ledwell Signing Day

Ledwell Celebrates Manufacturing Space Expansion

Ledwell Celebrates new manufacturing space with ribbon cutting

Ledwell recently announced the expansion of its manufacturing space with the addition of 66,000 square feet to supplement the existing twelve acres of space under roof.

With this significant expansion, Ledwell aims to add new jobs and increase efficiencies by focusing on technological refinements to its production line and engineering.

Ledwell Celebrates new manufacturing space with ribbon cutting
Ledwell celebrates additional 66,000 square feet of manufacturing space
Ledwell celebrates additional manufacturing space
Ledwell celebrates additional manufacturing space in 2023

Ledwell hosted a ribbon-cutting event on Thursday, May 18th, 2023, to celebrate. The Ledwell workforce in Texas and members of the community attended the event. The celebration was a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Ledwell team.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony was led by Lesley Ledwell, President, who expressed her gratitude to everyone who has supported the company over the years. “We would not be where we are today without the support of our customers, employees, and community.”

Ledwell is known for meeting customer challenges with innovative solutions. This time, the solution is a brand-new manufacturing facility with endless possibilities. The new facility will offer the flexibility to fabricate and enhance its diverse product offering.

Ledwell add more manufacturing space in 2023
Aerial view of Ledwell's newest manufacturing shop
Lesley Ledwell speaking at ribbon cutting celebrating new manufacturing space at Ledwell
Ledwell ribbon cutting

Putting the Woman in Manufacturing

Girl Power to the Max Competition Winners

What comes to mind at the mention of women in manufacturing?

Rosie the Riveter, perhaps?  Our minds revert to a throwback from the early 1940s.  The only reason we have that icon is because men were off to war and someone—women—had to do the job.  Once the necessity was over, the Rosies went back to non-manufacturing duties.  Subsequent potential Rosies were prohibited or, at the very least, discouraged from taking technical and skilled trade classes. 

Today, a smaller percentage of women are choosing to be Rosies than the originals, despite the evolution of STEM and manufacturing.  Fortunately, an initiative is growing to put more girls in contact with manufacturing equipment.

Girl Power to the Max Competition Judges
Girl Power to the Max Competition
Girl Power to the Max Competition Organizers

In partnership with three regional Arkansas education cooperatives, Ledwell kicked off Women’s History Month by hosting a manufacturing competition for high-school girls.  The “Girl Power to the Max” event, held on March 1, showcased the entries of 21 finalists.  Similar to applying for a job, the finalists were judged on creativity, construction design, technical skill, and interview responses.

The winners, including Kinlee Stivers, Mallory Abercrombie, and Emily Lewis, received trophies from Boss Laser, cash awards, and $500 tuition waivers from the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana.

Girls from De Queen-Mena, South Central, and Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperatives created projects, ranging from decorative to functional, using CNC cutting and lasering with an emphasis on welding and power structural systems.  CNC, or computer numerical control, involves using specific computer-programming language to control the movement of factory machinery. 

Essentially, it is modernized manufacturing and applicable STEM.

The goal of the competition is to increase the number of females seeking and qualifying for high-paying, high-demand, and highly skilled innovative construction/manufacturing occupations.   Forty girls participated in last year’s competition, but that number increased to 125 this year. 

Not only did more students enter the contest, more girls surveyed after the event answered that they would be interested in working toward a future in STEM or manufacturing.  This is a big win for the competition!

Another win for the program includes significant grants from the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Career and Technical Education that have been awarded to districts without the latest CNC and laser equipment.  Therefore, students will be learning to use machines that are being used in today’s manufacturing workforce. 

Girl Power to the Max Competition Winners

Technical teachers are also receiving professional development led by welding instructors to update their skills and knowledge.  Ledwell has offered to be in partnership in this endeavor.

With its educational outreach and in conjunction with “Girl Power to the Max” organizers, Ledwell plans to put more Rosies in the manufacturing workforce.  Rosie will no longer be an image from the past but a trailblazer of the future.

Ledwell East Providing Refurbished Solutions

Ledwell East Refurbished Equipment

Fayetteville, North Carolina, is located along the Cape Fear River in the Carolina Sandhills.

Ledwell added a second location on the east side of the city in 2008 to serve as a parts and service center for the East Coast.

Ledwell East has grown to include final manufacturing processes and refurbished equipment over the years. Fayetteville provides the same quality service as the main Texas facility.

To evaluate what work is needed, the team will work through a series of steps when a Bulk Haul Feed Trailer refurbishment comes into the shop. It starts with a bath. The feed trailer receives a good wash to allow for proper evaluation of the equipment.

Then, to assess the damage, if any, they run all the hydraulics, pneumatics, and electrical components.

Finally, a visual inspection of the entire trailer, inside and out, is done. This thorough walk-through of the trailer gives the team a clear idea of everything that needs to be repaired or replaced and an estimated time for how long it should take.

Occasionally, a trailer not common to their area will come in to be refurbished, but that doesn’t stop them. The North Carolina team works hard and are problem solvers. Ledwell East meets customer challenges with innovative solutions and gets the job done.

Maintenance Schedule Helps Achieve Peak Performance

Ledwell Maintenance Schedule for heavy duty loading ramp

Equipment can get run down just like we do. How do you feel without a bit of self-care now and then?



When our bodies aren’t taken care of, we tend to move less efficiently. The same goes for equipment. The wonderful thing about us and machinery is that we can become more efficient with some work.

That work looks different for everyone. For your equipment? It looks different for each product type. No matter which one you have, it will operate at peak performance when you have a maintenance schedule.

A proper maintenance schedule, including greasing, can keep your equipment’s operation points swift and smooth. Depending on the type, these schedules offer daily, monthly, and yearly service points.

Routinely performing these services will help the equipment operate more efficiently and maintain operation for longer. Reduce downtime. Reduce cost. Reduce stress.

In short, performing routine maintenance equals a lower cost of ownership.

Preventative maintenance schedules are readily accessible to you! You’ll find everything you need to know about taking care of your machinery and ensuring it’s in tip-top shape.

Hanor Company Keeps the Pork Industry Moving with Ledwell Bulk Feed Trailers

Ledwell customer, Hanor, feed trailer

Here in America, we love our pork. 

We eat an average of 264 pounds of meat per person each year, and 67 of those pounds are pork products. Back in 1978 when Hanor Company’s roots in commercial pig productions started, the average person ate just 191 pounds of meat per year. As demand for pork grew, so did pork farms across the country.

What started as a single 1000-sow farrow-to-finish operation—which includes all stages of pork production from breeding to market—has expanded to seven states and now sells 1.4 million market hogs each year. 

Hanor Company now has farms in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Iowa, and Illinois, and their genetic breeding program supports an integrated pig production system that processes 9 million pigs annually. Neal Jordan, transportation environmental manager for Hanor Companies in North Carolina, said it simply: “We raise pigs for a living.” Jordan, one of the company’s 650+ employees, has been at Hanor for 20 years. 

Raising pigs is anything but simple, though. In July, Hanor veterinarian Jon Tangen told FarmJournal’s Pork that the industry faces global threats like African swine fever and the war in Ukraine with Russia impacting grain prices and thus impacting the cost to raise meat. 

Despite global challenges and those that hit closer to home—like inflation, oil prices, and finding and retaining employees—Hanor Companies employees are dedicated to maintaining high standards when it comes to their hogs. Hanor supports the Pork Checkoff’s We Care initiative, which includes acknowledging a farm’s responsibility to produce safe food, protect and promote animal wellbeing, and ensure practices to protect public health.

“It’s of our utmost interest to make sure our pigs are well taken care of the entirety of their lifetime, until we utilize them for a nutritious protein source to feed our neighbors,” Tangen told FarmJournal’s Pork in July.

Tough bulk feed trailers with high standards for safety, sanitation and biosecurity are key in the pork industry. And while farms spent roughly 60 percent of the cost of raising pigs on feed in 2017, farmers have seen those prices jump to 70%-80% over the past few years.

That makes efficiency in feed transportation even more important. 

“I’ve been here 20 years, and Ledwell bulk feed trailers were here before me,” Jordan said. He said he’s still running a 1996 Ledwell trailer in his fleet. “Usually one that’s pulled every day, 300-400 miles a day, I try to move them out of the fleet in about 12-13 years.”

In North Carolina, Jordan is responsible for managing a fleet of about 10 tractors and 30 trailers. With skyrocketing feed costs, they have to choose transportation equipment that reduces waste and lets them get the most out of their feed.

“Ledwell bulk feed trailers are good equipment,” he said. “They’re reliable, not expensive to maintain. They’re always willing to help. They always make accommodations for what we need.” 

Ledwell works with Hanor to customize their stock bulk feed trailer with modifications specific to the needs of Hanor’s farms.

In a business with lots of rough gravel roads that can be harsh on even the best equipment, drivers don’t have time for downtime. 

“If we have a major breakdown, Ledwell is normally Johnny-on-the-spot as far as getting us what we need to get the repair done,” Jordan said. Ledwell can respond quickly to those requests because they manufacture more than 80% of their parts in-house, meaning they don’t have to wait on other suppliers. 

That’s by design. The Ledwell Made Guarantee, which backs every product, promises swift support that helps you get back to work quickly and tough-built products that last for decades with proper maintenance. 

And that’s exactly the kind of equipment that Hanor Company, one of the nation’s premier pork producers, needs to keep producing safe food for our communities.

ASME Certification Continues

Ledwell continues ASME certification

In 1916 ASME began its program for certification to companies in the pressure equipment industry. This program was developed to certify quality control systems for the design, fabrication, assembly, and inspection of boiler and pressure vessel components during construction.

Products manufactured by ASME BPVC certificate holders include a certification mark in accordance with the applicable certified section also known as a “U” stamp. A company can also be certified to make repairs or alterations to pressure vessels under the National Board of Boiler and Pressure Vessel Inspectors under an “R” stamp.

Ledwell began building pressure vessels, or in our case DOT Cargo Tanks, in the spring of 2010. This past May, we successfully completed our 5th joint review for ASME and National Board certification.

The purpose of the review is to evaluate the quality program and ensure the implementation for each product manufactured for fabrication, alterations, and repairs. Each assessment ensures the applicant’s quality program is implemented successfully and complies with requirements based on the ASME standard.

Certificates are granted after a review of the previous 36 months of work, verification of record-keeping requirements, personnel training, and required knowledge of pressure vessel design and fabrication rules.

DLA Distribution Red River Team Increases Performance to 98% On-Time from 87% Thanks to Custom Gull Wing Delivery Trucks

Ledwell serves the material handling industry - Gull Win unloading

The Opportunity

During his 25-year career in the military, Seth Olmstead traveled all over the world—including Japan.

“Japan has a very narrow road network,” he said. “They have to maximize the space they have. One of the things I saw while I was in Japan was delivery trucks that opened on the sides to allow for quick, easy unloading.”

Fast forward to 2020, when Olmstead served as the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Distribution Red River Commander.

He was helping his team troubleshoot moving inventory in inclement weather. DLA services the Department of Defense and State throughout the world, Olmstead said, and when a requisition comes in for material, they fulfill it.

“We were having trouble moving material due to the rain,” he said. “We had $13 billion of inventory, but most of it was stored in cardboard boxes. When it rained, the only thing we had to move the material between warehouse and shipping locations was a flatbed trailer, but you can’t move cardboard boxes on a flatbed in the rain.”

Frustrated with the rain’s impact on his team’s performance metrics, Olmstead knew they needed a better solution—like what he’d seen in Japan.

Ledwell Gull Wing

The Solution: Ledwell Gull Wing

“I told my team to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get one of those trucks,” he said.

His team researched trucks in Japan and began reaching out to vendors, but those companies would not export them to the United States.

Then, Olmstead’s equipment specialist came to him with good news: not only had he found that type of truck here in the U.S., but it was also made locally at Ledwell.

A meeting was immediately set for him and his team—including a driver and safety personnel—to visit Ledwell and see a Gull Wing, Ledwell’s version of the trucks Olmstead had seen in action in Japan.

Originally developed as a custom product for Wholesale Electric, Ledwell’s patented Gull Wing helped the electric wholesaler revolutionize its distribution model. Its watertight side doors keep valuable cargo dry and make it easier for delivery drivers to unload specific pieces of equipment quickly.

“Steve [Ledwell] and his team were very accommodating,” Olmstead said. “They answered every question we had no matter how crazy or off-the-wall it was. We figured out in about an hour that these vehicles would make a difference. DLA Red River purchased three of the vehicles.”

Adapting the Gull Wings to fit DLA’s unique needs is a process Ledwell is familiar with. Engineer Gary Gathright said several changes and safety features were incorporated into DLA’s Gull Wings, including a safety feature that prevents the truck from moving if one of the wings is open.

“We did the controls differently. We’ve since added those upgrades to all of the new Gull Wing units, whether it be for them or another client,” Gathright said. “We changed how things are operated in the cab, incorporated a greaseable hinge that makes the service life better for the whole unit. A lot of our improvements are customer-driven. We end up incorporating those not just into a unit for that particular customer, but into the unit as a whole, so we ultimately make our entire product line better.”

The Results

With its new Gull Wing units, Olmstead’s team was able to deliver efficiently no matter the weather.

Their performance metrics lifted from 87% on-time to 98% on time in a matter of weeks.

It’s hard to argue with that kind of success. Seeing DLA’s numbers inspired Anniston Army Depot to make their order, which Ledwell is customizing to accommodate Anniston’s lower awnings.

“It was almost seamless,” Olmstead said. “Gary was able to do the calculations for those changes on the fly, and Anniston immediately found confidence in the truck because the engineer gave them the nod that this equipment would work for their needs.”

Founded by a veteran, Ledwell has always had a soft spot for projects that help our military succeed.

“Just being a local source to provide a solution for what is ultimately a local portion of a worldwide provider of support services for our warfighters could, in the future, open up a lot of doors for us to continue our reach as a worldwide company,” Gathright said.

Truck Body Manufacturer Ledwell patented Gull Wing
Ledwell serves the material handling industry - Gull Win unloading

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