HMTI offers CDL, commercial endorsement training
Cherokee Nation citizen and Heavy Metal Training Institute owner Bobbie Wolf stands in front of her storefront that offices automotive trainings. Wolfe had a grand opening for the business on Oct. 4 in Vinita. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
VINITA – Cherokee Nation citizen Bobbie Wolf held a grand opening of her new business, Heavy Metal Training Institute, on Oct. 4 with a meet-and-greet at her downtown storefront.
HMTI offers several short-term and full-time classes to obtain licenses such as a commercial driver’s license (CDL), as well as a school bus endorsement, commercial learner’s permit, pre-trip inspection, commercial endorsements, and in the future, an automotive internship program.
Before opening her business, Wolf ran a pilot project for another tribe doing CDL and automotive classes. After it ended, she was given the equipment to open HMTI.
“The CDL class, it got really popular. It’s an in-demand career. I mean even last year alone there was like 61,000 shortages of jobs just for CDL drivers. If truck driving stopped, like the whole country would stop, it really would. It’s that important,” Wolf said.
Her biggest training program is for CDLs, which includes the commercial learner’s permit and pre-trip inspection training.
“I do a lot of one-on-one training. I take everybody out from start to finish if they’ve never driven a truck before. We drive semis and 53-foot trailers. I’ll take them fresh and I’ll teach them and I’ll show them,” Wolf said.
To obtain a CDL, students will have 160 hours of training over four weeks, including 36 to 40 hours in the classroom along with pre-trip vehicle inspections and driving.
“When we do our pre-trip, they are learning about checking for the safety of the vehicle, engine compartments, components. They’re checking tires. They’re checking the condition of the truck, the manageability of the truck, the operation of the truck,” she said.
After pre-trips, students practice driving maneuvers such as backing, alley docking and parallel parking in a vehicle with a 53-foot trailer on a lot outside of Vinita designated for HMTI training.
“The main thing is making sure they know their vehicle. If they know their vehicle then they can past their test. I’m not going to put somebody in that’s not safe out on the road,” she said.
Wolf said when she feels the student is competent enough, she takes them road training.
“I’ll drive first, and I’ll take them to a safe location that we’ve got designated for driving. Then I’ll let them drive the highways, just straight highways at first. Just making sure that they’re staying in the lines, staying in their lane,” she said.
She wants the student comfortable driving the vehicle and ensuring they are checking what they need to check while driving.
After obtaining a CDL, she said students can return to obtain other endorsements for free. “Anyone that does graduate, and when they do want to come and get endorsements like a tanker, a double/triple, or a HAZMAT, we do those for free for those students that have graduated out of here.”
Tuition for the four-week course is $3,900. HMTI accepts financial aid through Oklahoma Works or tribal funding.
“The big picture is in five years I want to have 40 or 50 acres right outside of town with a training lot in the front, all of our office and facilities under one roof. I want to have a heavy equipment class in one corner, welding in another. I want to do diesel mechanics so that could maintenance our CDL fleet. And possibly even open a dive school,” she said.
Wolf is the sole trainer for her business but plans to hire more trainers and get equipment.
HMTI is located at 103 S. Wilson St. For information visit hmtinstitute.com or call 918-276-2669.