Local Food Service As A Rookie

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Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Just came upon this diary. This is very detailed and explains a lot. I have thought about food service delivery as well after I go otr for a bit. Please keep up these informative posts. Spring is right around the corner .

Glad You're enjoying it. really hasn't felt like winter a whole lot. Sure we've had a couple weeks where the temps were in the negatives but we really only had 1 snowfall of 3+ inches. Had a few storms with freezing rain (YUCK!) But overall the winter isn't as bad as I anticipated. Also helps that I'm not going to omaha anymore haha. I don't mind that route because of all the drive time but at the same time they were loading me heavier, and more cases than the trucks staying in Des Moines requiring you to hustle even more! There's talk of them bringing that route back out here once we're fully staffed again, I have seniority over someone so I won't be forced to do it if I choose not to. I'd be willing to atleast go with him the first week to help him figure it out cuz its a beast of a day.

I got lucky today and only had 575 cases, 15k weight and got it knocked out in 9 hours. Definitely helps when it's 12 stops but 2 of the stops took nearly half the truck combined.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Tuesday was the same old same, the new guy got cut loose from training after only 1 week and oh man it shows he wasn't trained long enough...more on that later..... Wednesday I had the new guy help me out on the route I've been running downtown. Originally they planned on giving him a 2nd day off midweek (only work 3 days) but I had text my manager Tuesday expressing my concerns of him having that route. I explained that once the guy in his 60s retires (currently out hurt, not a work comp situation) that none of us want the downtown routes so because we're seniority based the new guy has no choice but to do them. Seeing as the week prior i left my last stop between 13th and 14th hour staying on time, I told him it'd be very beneficial for him to come with me to get to know the stops and see how I setup to unload there. My manager was a little leary at first because the past month or so my attitude towards the company/management has taken a turn for the worst. I see many ways we can improve our efficiency in unloading by having the warehouse build pallets like I did in syscos warehouse. It would require no extra work for the warehouse but would save us easily atleast an hour a day that we spend digging for product. Also, I've addressed safety concerns that seem to be brushed off. All the texts are saved in case I do end up hurt due to the way things are done. Anyways, I explained to my manager although we don't see eye to eye on alot at this time I'm not the kind of guy to screw over another guy trying to make a living, or the customer. Neither one have anything to do with what's been bothering me so there's no reason to take it out on them or be unprofessional in that way. So I did as I was asked and I kept it a positive atmosphere and the day went pretty good. The guy can definitely hustle but not knowing where the stops are definitely is a problem. We finished the day that was scheduled 13.5 hours in 11.

Thursday all our routes were mixed up, we all went to places we won't typically go while still hitting some we usually do. I got sent 20 minutes north of Des Moines for 18 cases, then an additional 50 minutes west for 20 cases. I was very upset. I'm paid by the hour but that doesn't mean I want to spend all day working. What drives me nuts is the salesman that's picking up all this business way out there that the other companies refuse to service because there's no money to be made. Huge waste of my time in my opinion. When I was an hour away I got a text from my manager asking me to help the new guy. He was only scheduled an 8 hour day with 11 stops but had 5 stops to go as he approached his 11th hour. I explained to the boss i would if I had the hours but I wouldn't get back to Des Moines until my 13th hour and I wasn't going to use my 16 hour exception because ive had to use it Friday many times. He ended up putting in 14 hours. I got a group text from a supervisor at 845pm, telling me and another driver to take care of new guys first stop before leaving with our own routes which was 200 cases. That really irritated me because they decided This guy was done training, when he clearly needs more time. Friday was in a grumpy mood all day. In the text I received it said we were doing his first stop so new guy doesn't get frustrated. What really bothered me about that is I've been expressing my frustrations in a calm and professional way and yet nobody seems to care or even offer to look into it but they're afraid this new guy is going to quit if he doesn't catch on really soon. I ended up sending a text to supervisor expressing my frustrations (again) and straight up told him that I'll be gone as soon as my year is up. I told him I'm fed up, I was scheduled 13 hours BEFORE needing to spend an hour doing new guys first stop, and the forecasted freezing rain. I really hate the idea that I'm already planning to leave once I'm able to, but I'm just to the point that I feel like my opinion doesn't matter and I don't feel respected as a driver or even a person. My son turned 1 today and I didn't even get to spend any time with him except the 5 minute video chat on my lunch. I'm sure that also played a role in how I feel, however my dislike for how things are going has been growing and I've tried to address it with my supervisor to no success. I've been approached by transportation manager and drivers with sysco and Reinhardt drivers trying to get me to switch over. They've shown me how their truck is built and Its exactly what I've been trying to get done with PFG. I really do enjoy this work however long term I do not feel PFG is the answer for me.

I will be forever grateful that they've given me the opportunity, regardless of what happens. If you're convinced this is where you want to start I highly recommend them as they're not nearly as strict about hitting your appointment times as others are and they're willing to give you a chance. Overall I like the company but there's certain things I disagree with that are big to me. This is not meant to bad mouth the company I'm just trying to give you my opinion and where I'm at at this time.

My contract is up middle of july, however I really want to rough it out until October after baby is born because I'll within an hour of home if I stay, health insurance and a week of vacation. Whether or not that happens we'll see. Many places are offering health insurance first day of employment but id be a couple hours out

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I was planning on going more in depth last night about what's been bothering me but ended up falling asleep before I could do so. I don't want to be looked at as a "terminal rat". Sometimes when we have a big stop the refrigerated or dry are on multiple pallets of that temperature zone. What ends up happening is the raw chicken or beef ends up getting pushed onto next pallet (bottom of pallet for food safety), causing me to have to downstack that entire pallet as the warehouse layers the chicken. They use the chicken as a base rather than stacking it straight up because it helps keep it stabilized. I'm ok with how they stack it, I've made suggestions to have IT department change how the system tells selector where to put it. That would have the selector be told to put the chicken on first pallet, and say...produce or something like that that tends to be on the top of the pallet. The selectors at PFG use a headset that tells them the bin number and quantity, as well as pallet 1 or pallet 2. So when they would go grab the chicken it would say pallet 1 if that stop that's being split onto separate pallets is getting any. When they get to lettuce it would tell them pallet 2 for Instance. To add to that, with sysco we would be told what pallet to put it on and front half or back half of that pallet based on what stop number it was. It helped minimize the number of times a driver had to touch a case making him far more efficient. The hours we face are long and exhausting and I dislike how inefficient this seems to be. It's extremely hard to be efficient and safe if you have to downstack an entire pallet when your barely able to stand inside the trailer. Regarding my comment about safety.... I've sent numerous messages to my management staff regarding not having any space to stand inside the trailer at my side door for frozen product. As you could see in pictures I'd posted with my steps out I don't have much room to stand and stack on at same time. Last Friday this is what I had to deal with

0699960001521290055.jpg those cases on top are 80 pound cases of beef. I had 7 of them with no where to stand except my steps. There really was no way to lift properly while also being cautious not to fall off the steps. I contacted the safety director as I've already addressed this with my management team to no success . I didn't even get a response regarding it. I just wanted to give a little more insight on why I'm at the point I am so I'm not looked at as a terminal rat. This company does do some things good but it's just inefficient. I had taken this local job to be able to spend more time with the family than I did overnights and it isn't the case. I see them less now than I did so I'm trying to make my job easier so I can finish earlier. My management team is all former drivers. One manager started as a janitor for the company over 22 years ago and worked his way up. Because they used to drive it's being done the way it was back then. The trailer gets unloaded and we make it back in one piece so they don't see a need for anything to change.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I was off work today but something happened today that is worth mentioning. I'm embarassed to say that although I've been a member here for a couple years, and lurked for about a year prior I made one of the most common mistakes in this industry. I DIDN'T GET IN CONTACT WITH THE CORRECT PEOPLE. I received a phone call from my manager, who also had the VP of operations in his office. The conversation was primarily between myself and the VP who informed me many of the changes I've suggested have already been in the works. I was told when my routing is terrible (in my opinion) reach out to my manager and he'll get in contact with sales manager to come to a solution. Many times our time windows on our paperwork are inaccurate so I was told if I want routing changed find out the accurate delivery window and then forward that information to the office. I feel it should be the sales peoples job to do that but if it helps me out I'll do it. I was also once again told that I'm a valuable asset to their team and they don't want to lose me and want this to get resolved. It turns out that each member of transportation management has been assigned a "team"that they're the "coach " of. They are supposed to be CALLING us atleast once a week to check in with us to address concerns, see how things are going. They keep a spreadsheet in office of each driver, as well as when they were called, and what the conversation entailed. It's amazing how quickly the tone changed when their spreadsheet shows I've been contacted almost every week, yet I told them the last phone call I had from my coach was 3 months ago over a drive cam video in which I wasn't wearing a seatbelt going 3mph in the yard, and a text a week ago for the "safety focus"of overhead obstacles (powerlines, low clearances/bridges). I should have taken my concerns to the next level after supervisor I've been addressing them to hasn't done anything, so I'm partially at fault for allowing myself to be so fed up without following the chain of command. As I said, I'm embarrassed to admit this as it's something that is frequently stressed here, and I clearly failed to execute it. It ended up being a 45 minute phone conversation which ended in the VP telling me if I ever feel someone isn't doing their job supporting us in the field, or I don't feel comfortable talking to anyone, give him a call and it'll be addressed. It definitely gives me hope for staying here longer than my year as I actually felt like I mattered. A large part of that is showing that you're committed to doing the job safely, and can be counted on to get it done. I had text a supervisor this morning informing them my youngest son is sick and I'd be unable to work Thursday as they're doing alot of tests on him and keeping him overnight. He had lost a pound since his 9 month appt 3 months ago. We have since found out everything is ok, pediatrician scale was off a pound he weighed same as 9 month appt according to hospital scale, but they also feel he's not getting enough calories as we just switched him to milk from formula and he isnt drinking as much as he was with formula. I text him at 1030am before he finished the schedule for tomorrow so they could find someone to cover my route with ample time. Technically, I should be written up (company policy as I also was when I had the flu) because I don't have sick time as I haven't been here a year, but due to the circumstances not to worry about it. I told my manager I should be able to work Friday, but will call him by mid afternoon tomorrow to let him know either way. COMMUNICATION WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR SUCCESS. I really do feel foolish for not listening to trucking truth. I'm thankful we were able to clear the air and I look forward to moving forward.

Dm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

On Thursday after I'd posted that last update I received a phone call from my manager again, but this time he was with the guy who does the routing. On my Friday route I end up doing alot of extra, Unnecessary driving because of when the customers show up. It turns out with this route the delivery windows are inaccurate. I had previously gotten it rerouted for 1 week because I had asked customers what time they get there and found out the times on our end were inaccurate. When I had it done last time i didn't have the router fix our delivery windows so when he went to route it the following week it looked as if I'd be sitting for 2 hours at one of my stops. Needless to say, my manager agreed to let me route it the way I wanted to run it and he would keep an eye on peoplenet to see if it saves the company time and money. The biggest problem I had with how it was done was driving past 2 stops in Ames. I could see them easily from the highway only half mile off the exit, end up in marshalltown..a good 45 minutes east then end up coming back to Ames for the 2 stops. Doing that allowed me to save half hour in drive time because theres a highway 330/US65 that runs diagonal to Des Moines rather than driving west on US 30 to I-35 then south. Instead of putting in 14 hours or more on Friday I was able to knock it out under 12 with case count and number of stops being the same. I saved atleast half hour in unload time at a bowling alley because I was there before they opened allowing me to park alot closer to door. I may end up waiting in the bowling alley with it rerouted this way for 15 minutes or so but atleast I can stack everything up so when they do show up I just gotta scoop and run. They saved the time windows I submitted to them so I was told it will stay routed this way, however I have a customer in Ames every 3 to 4 weeks that orders so I'll end up having to go back for him as with my current routing I'll leave Ames about 945am and he doesn't get there until 11am. In food service all your customers want a morning delivery before lunch and obviously not everyone can have it. Sitting for over an hour would definitely not go over very well with the sales team and they'd likely fight to have routing changed back to how it previously was. It feels good to be able to enjoy going to work again knowing that my input is important.

One last thing I wanted to touch on is how our new guy is doing. He's now been with us about 3 weeks or so and he's really struggling. He had previously driven OTR for a year, then went to Sysco and a produce company doing the same thing we do. He was let go from the last 2 jobs (3 months each) due to not making it through probationary period. Most food companies are only giving guys 1 week of training because of the cost involved. I lucked that I got 12 weeks because I was fresh out of school. The new guy has been struggling to the point the other drivers are needing to come in early to help with his first stop, a BBQ joint (our largest customer) that orders close to 200 cases 4 of the 6 days we deliver to them. They're the only customer that gets a delivery Saturday here and I filled in for guy who usually does it. From the time I clocked in until I clocked out It was 2 hours. Due to union contract I'll be paid for 6 (all OT as I'm over 40 hours) meaning I made $200 for 2 hours of work. The biggest problem we've noticed with new guy is he isn't efficient. When building his stack on his 2 wheeler he will scan a case, set scanner down, move case to wheeler then spend a few seconds trying to remember where he put scanner. When I'm stacking that scanner doesn't leave my hand. When he rode with me on that Wednesday I was impressed with how fast he moved but honestly I feel like he was putting on a show. He told me he wanted to run the stuff in and I could stack so I didn't get a look at how he did that. It's very easy to open up that trailer and feel overwhelmed but you can't let that happen. I don't think he is gonna last much longer because they keep sending drivers to help him from Illinois, or having us help him out. Unfortunately I feel they already ruined it by signing off on his training too soon. I doubt he'll be sent out with me or the other drivers here in Des Moines because I already told my manager next time he gets sent out with me I'll watch him work, and make suggestions and jump in to help once he falls behind. I figure by having him doubled up with somebody he isn't learning how to move faster, or more efficient. I'm disappointed because after seeing him work when I was with him I was really impressed at how fast he moved. Granted he overloaded his wheeler up, taking alot more than I would so that saved him time but I really don't see this working out for him. He told me he's determined to stick it out so I'll try to help him be successful as much as I can but at the end of the day I'm not a trainer, he's technically done training, and I have my own route I need to run. Alot of days I'm already battling against the HOS so I don't have much time to go help him out without screwing up my own customers, or my start time the following day. My routes all start at 4am which is great because I can get alot off before traffic picks up Slowing me down.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

SAP:

Substance Abuse Professional

The Substance Abuse Professional (SAP) is a person who evaluates employees who have violated a DOT drug and alcohol program regulation and makes recommendations concerning education, treatment, follow-up testing, and aftercare.

BMI:

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI is a formula that uses weight and height to estimate body fat. For most people, BMI provides a reasonable estimate of body fat. The BMI's biggest weakness is that it doesn't consider individual factors such as bone or muscle mass. BMI may:

  • Underestimate body fat for older adults or other people with low muscle mass
  • Overestimate body fat for people who are very muscular and physically fit

It's quite common, especially for men, to fall into the "overweight" category if you happen to be stronger than average. If you're pretty strong but in good shape then pay no attention.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Tony R.'s Comment
member avatar

Great information, thanks for continuing this post.

Simon D. (Grandpa)'s Comment
member avatar

Great stuff...as ever 👍😊

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Today (Monday) ran the usual downtown route I do. Nothing too much changed. Had 669 cases, 16k to unload, 15 stops 11 hours. Roughly 3 hours was spent driving with 8 hours spent ON DUTY not driving, racking up 85 miles. I actually put on probably 25 miles more than I should've as I drove to a stop that was a decent way away and seen their parking lot was full in the middle of lunch and opted to skip them. I finished nearly 1 1/2 hours ahead of schedule today. Some stops i had ordered more than usual and when the stops are bigger it involves less digging for product saving me time. 1 of the stops I have today I got to at 11am just as they opened (they're ok with lunch delivery) and they ended up giving me a free lunch which was a burger and fries, similar to burger kings rodeo burger. Yum! They tell me all the time if I'm hungry let them know it'll be on the house, however I eat there maybe once a month as I don't want to take advantage of it. They were very happy I was early as the new guy and his helper didn't get there until 4pm on Friday, 3 hours behind schedule. After that stop I went to the Fraternity house we deliver to. The chef there is nice and always offers to feed me what they're having for lunch if I get there during lunch time. They were having peanut butter and banana sandwiches, and potato soup. I ended up taking the sandwich offered and gave it to another driver in the yard. One thing I learned from other drivers is never turn down a free meal. Alot of chefs will take it personal and will likely not offer you anything again. Even if the place is disgusting still take it and discard it or give it away. Monday's I'm definitely taken care of in that aspect as a bakery downtown gives me some pastries or cinnamon roll and a coffee . It's never expected, always appreciated and I always offer to pay for it. Definitely gonna gain alot of weight if you eat everything your offered.

Wasn't really anything too exciting to happen today but I did have trouble backing into the frat house.

0949061001522096129.jpg

The purple line is where there were a ton of garbage cans lined up. It took me a couple minutes before there was a big enough break in traffic to begin backing in. The most frustrating thing is generally when I'm around colleges the students are in such a hurry if they have any space at all theyll force their way in. I tried to do a 90 in twice and got too close for comfort to the garbage cans. It wouldnt damage anything hitting them but i treat EVERYTHING as an object that will damage the truck. There was no traffic around as I was struggling but after I got it in for the most part traffic started coming. There was 1 lane open and as I started to pull up to straighten it up a car pulled in front which is annoying but due to it happening all the time up there I was able to anticipate it. I'm very proud of how far my backing has come in the last 7 months or so and I look forward to fine tuning it even more.

TWIC:

Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Truck drivers who regularly pick up from or deliver to the shipping ports will often be required to carry a TWIC card.

Your TWIC is a tamper-resistant biometric card which acts as both your identification in secure areas, as well as an indicator of you having passed the necessary security clearance. TWIC cards are valid for five years. The issuance of TWIC cards is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

Tuesday was uneventful, typical route 17 stops, 17k pounds, 13 hours, 120 miles. I actually finished 10 minutes ahead of schedule despite talking on phone to a driver that's out hurt for 30 minutes. It's not a work comp injury but he's been out about a month so I wanted to see how he is. Ive definitely become alot more efficient and don't feel like I'm running around with my head cut off. It's still hard work that requires me to hustle but I'm able to stay calm while doing so.

That's enough about me, I want to talk about how our new guy is doing. I will refer to him as Mike (fake name to protect his privacy). As I stated numerous times I was put through a mandatory 12 week training period that required me to do all the driving as well as the unloading with help. The training period for me was so long because I was fresh out of school. The driver we had that came to us from US Foods spent a month to month and a half training, learning our stops and computer system despite having 4 years experience between US Foods and Budweiser. Mike has worked for sysco and a produce company for about 6 months between the 2 of them and apparently a year to year and a half OTR. That day he rode with me I was seriously impressed. He was working circles around me and I text my supervisor telling him no more hiring guys like Mike, otherwise I'll be out of a job. I don't know what's going on with him, if he's just overwhelmed, doesn't care or what but when he's out on his own he's really far behind. I understand he's new and has to figure out his own way of doing things and finding the stops but it's excessive in my opinion. Yesterday he ran another drivers route because other driver had a death in the family and was attending funeral. Start time was 5:30am . Normal driver gets done about 3pm. It's 11(?) Stops, usually 450 cases with 180 miles. Mike put in nearly 16 hours, getting done at 9pm! He hasn't run that route before and he's still figuring it out so I don't expect him to be back at 3 like other driver is. However, 6 hours later seems excessive. Due to him getting back at 9pm he can't start until 7am. That's 4 hours after the normal start time is which makes his day longer since he'll be walking alot more as all his stops will be open, preventing him from parking at the door. He was scheduled today to get back to the yard at 330pm but he wasn't there when I left at 6pm. Unfortunately his start time will be pushed back again tomorrow. It's a snowball effect where it makes it very difficult to get caught up. One of our supervisors is checking out all the domicile yards out of rock island in a rental car so we won't know we're being watched. On the surface it seems wrong however if I know I'm being watched I know I'd focus more on making sure I'm doing it properly. It's a good way to know if I'm not working safely, or not following procedure. After he observes from a distance he'll come talk to us regarding that as well as any other concerns we have. I'm hoping when he makes it to our yard he can see what the problem with Mike is.

This post is not intended to bad mouth Mike , it is intended to show some of the problems those doing this work experience early on. Remember, Mike had 1 week of training here and was more or less told its sink or swim. Most of the conpanies are only giving 1 week of training before being sent on your own . When you're behind like that it is so easy to get careless, reckless, and upset. The customers have been accustomed to getting their delivery at the same general time and now they're getting it much later making them upset. Some customers will talk smack and when you're already upset it's easy to lose your cool or allow it to make you rush while driving (BAD IDEA). when you rush is when accidents happen. The place that fed me lunch Monday is a great example of customers being upset with a much later delivery and tempers flaring on both ends. When I was with Mike a couple weeks ago I told him only he knows if he has it or not. I explained the importance of although his training was signed off as complete, if he doesn't feel it was enough he needs to speak up and tell them he needs more time. The other problem with how Mike was trained is that he was trained by a rock island driver. That driver hasn't even ran any routes here so he didn't know where any stops were, best ways of setting up, or limitations such as no lunch time delivery. The place that fed me told me Mike parks half a block away in the park parking lot rather than on the street right outside for fear of blocking 1 lane of traffic. I really feel bad for Mike. I'd love to be able to help him out but unfortunately he's gotta figure out what works best for him. Regarding a previous comment i made about people getting into this because they enjoy working out: Mike looks like the kind of guy that would strive with this. He's probably 6 feet, 180 pounds, and athletic. I'm 5 9, 250 pounds. He definitely looks more like the kind of guy you would expect to see doing this. The driver who mainly trained me is in his early 60s similar build to me. He has a bad back and knees, very sad to see how much he struggles to move when he gets back to the yard. At our last drivers meeting there were probably 10 drivers that work in rock island that are in their 50s. Now that's not to say Mike won't turn out to be a great delivery guy. Continued....

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Rob T.'s Comment
member avatar

I gave Mike my phone number when he first started in case he had issues finding a stop or needed advice on how to setup as I've been to 90% of our customers, and did my training on his routes he has now. I do feel bad for him but I can't screw my customers over to help him. They've been sending drivers from rock island on his busiest days to help. Tomorrow (Wednesday) I'm covering for driver who had the funeral he attended so I'll post another update . It has a few of the stops I used to do on Wednesdays (Osceola iowa) however they added other stops I've only been to a couple times and now it's 16 stops with 17k typically, compared to the old route that was 10 stops 11k.

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