You've seen them on the interstate. Big trucks with eighteen wheels and a white trailer carrying...well, something. Maybe when you were a kid, you tried to get the driver to blow the horn and considered it an accomplishment of sorts if you succeeded. Chances are, that's the most interaction people have with truck drivers on a day to day basis.
This week is National Truck Driver Appreciation Week and at WP Rawl, we are truly grateful for all of our truck drivers and transportation team. Without them, we would not be able to deliver the fresh veggies we love so much to consumers like you. To share a little more about their work and how important they are to keeping produce on the shelf at your local grocery store, I sat down for an interview with our Transportation Manager, Jeff Pratt.
Q: What is your role at WP Rawl?
A: I serve as the transportation manager at WP Rawl. Our department consists of 10 administrative team members and approximately 70 professional drivers. My daily responsibilities include overseeing staff and driver activities, as well as coordinating with our sales, shipping, buying, and maintenance divisions.
Q: What is a typical day like for our truck drivers?
A: WP Rawl drivers generally depart with loads early in the evening. Since produce deliveries tend to be scheduled between 3:00am and 8:00am, drivers run most miles overnight. Once a driver arrives at a delivery point the average unload time is 3 1/2 hours. Most of our outbound loads consist of multiple deliveries, and depending on distance a truck may make anywhere from 1 to 4 deliveries per day. Throughout the course of a driver's day, he/she must first and foremost focus on the safe operation of the tractor/trailer. In addition, drivers are responsible for ensuring the refrigeration unit on the trailer is functioning properly. This ensures that product is being maintained at the proper temperature. All drivers are required to maintain trip reports that include mileage, fuel, expenses, logs, and bills of lading.
Q: Name some of the biggest challenges to being a truck driver.
A: Challenges include being away from home and family for extended periods, dwell times at delivery and pickup sites, dealing with adverse highway conditions and traffic, limited parking availability, and DOT compliance issues.
Q: What part do drivers play in getting our product from the farm to the store?
A: WP Rawl drivers are the final link in our vertical integration chain. Multiple departments play a role in producing a case of finished product, but each of these departments rely on a WP Rawl truck and driver to deliver that finished case of product to our customers.
Q: Are there other ways they help us in our day to day operations?
A: Drivers are the eyes and ears of the business. They interact with our customers on a daily basis and are an extension of our sales team. Whether that interaction is positive or negative, the information is relayed back to the office and dealt with accordingly.
Q: How have you seen truck drivers influence WP Rawl’s growth as a business?
A: WP Rawl driver retention rates are much higher than industry averages. This has allowed drivers to build lasting relationships with a number of our customers. Dialogue from these relationships has fostered many opportunities for increased sales.
Q: Has there been an increase in our need for drivers in the last 5 years? If so, why?
A: As WP Rawl's business has expanded, so has our need for additional drivers. Increased sales, factored in with a larger geographic service area, has placed a large demand on driver recruitment.
Q: If someone is interested in becoming a truck driver at WP Rawl, what should they do?
A: Interested candidates should contact WP Rawl's HR department through our Careers page on our website. Qualified applicants must have 3 years of verifiable over-the-road driving experience.
Thank you to all of our drivers for all of your hard work!