From executive chef to CDL driver

A week after the State of Ohio’s COVID-19 shutdown happened, the restaurant where Colt Black had worked for five years padlocked its doors. He’d spent 20 years in the restaurant industry, and only six months earlier, he’d earned a promotion to an executive chef position.

“It was really a stiff punch in the stomach,” Black said. “My income was above average, and it was a big hit to lose the job as executive chef.”

After the job loss, Black collected unemployment insurance benefits for four months, but he knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. He also knew his previous industry could take some time for a recovery.

“I knew I wouldn’t be able to return to the restaurant industry, and definitely not at the same income level I had before the pandemic.”

Black learned about a program for funding workforce development from his uncle, who runs a small trucking company. He did some research and found more information about the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding for job training through the OhioMeansJobs office in Montgomery County.

“After I first made contact, it was a couple of weeks, and I was already set up,” he said. “I just ran with it. I didn’t hesitate. I realized I had a good opportunity.”

He used the funding to get a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) through Clark State Community College’s truck driver program.

Now, Black is working with his uncle, and getting to see the entire process of running a trucking company, from the driving to dispatch, accounting, and billing. He sees his transition as fueling a future of financial independence.

“It’s given me the sense of freedom I’ve been looking for,” he said. “I don’t see myself moving out of this industry.”

His transition isn’t only about providing for himself. Moving to the trucking industry allowed Black to continue to support his family of six.

“WIOA really helped me support my family,” he said. “If it wasn’t for that program, I’d probably be working multiple jobs right now. It gave me the opportunity to build a career. I’ve recommended it to all my friends and told them they could get their HVAC license, welding certification, anything in the trades. It’s something great that Montgomery County provides – to invest in people like that.”