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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Deciding on a Trucking Career, Part III

Photo credit: Fred J. Frigo  Bill Bedell

Deciding on a Career, Part III
(This is Part III of a series, “Deciding on a Career”.  I would suggest reading Parts I and II first, they were posted earlier in this blog.)

So, Part II took me to the fall of 1983.  I had worked at Frigo Cheese Corp for a year and a half and made one the the most foolish decisions of my life by quitting. I lasted 3 months with one carrier and 3 months with a second. Thought I would be making good money, but I was just getting by and was really disgusted, miserable and never home!  So, I made the decision to go back to Frigo Cheese, see the Traffic Manager and ask if he would consider re-hiring me.  I figured the worst that could happen was for him to laugh at me and throw me out of his office!  After what I had been through, I could handle that.  It turned out, he was very tough and grilled me for quite a while.  He then sent me on my way, saying that he would have to think about it.  I found out later, that he went to the other drivers and asked them if they had any objections to me coming back. Thankfully, I had a good relationship with all of them as well as with the dispatchers.  I was allowed to come back and very grateful for the chance!

So from 1983 to 1991 I was a pretty well satisfied company driver.  I was making a good living and only had to layover in the truck on average of one or two nights a week.  We had excellent equipment and I was running within a five state area around Wisconsin and able to make extra money hauling some milk loads on the weekend.  Bought a decent house, was living in a great rural area and was pretty content.  Every deer hunting season, all I had to do was shoot one out in the back yard to fill the freezer. My plan was to retire living in Crivitz and never leave that company. If anyone had told me then that I would spend more than 20 years (and counting) living out west in Utah, I would have said they were NUTS! Then in late 1990 and early 1991, the winds of change started to blow.

That is when I started to learn about 3rd party logistics, the newer, fast growing trend  in the trucking industry.  There was a lot of competition in the cheese business and Frigo was starting to struggle to keep costs under control.  In late ‘90 & early ‘91, the corporate decision was to try and get out of the transportation business and concentrate their efforts on making cheese.  They decided to take bids from from Schneider, Penske, Ryder and others to handle their logistics, including providing drivers, logistics managers and tractors to handle the business.  Of course that would mean big changes for us company drivers and it wasn't long before we heard the rumors about what was about to happen.

A series of meetings were held with the drivers, dispatchers and traffic manager exploring ways for us to cut costs, but the eventual final decision from the company was to award a 3 year contract to 3rd party logistics provider, Ryder Integrated Logistics.  At the time, the company name was Ryder Dedicated Resources, division of Ryder Systems, Inc.  They would provide the tractors and drivers to handle the outbound shipments of Frigo's products and generate back haul revenue for the company finding freight on the return trips.  As you can imagine, this was a life changing event for the drivers and none of them, including me, were happy about it.  Before all this transpired, I would have never imagined leaving Frigo.  I, and most of the other drivers, I’m sure, was planning to work there until retirement.  It was a very hard time for everyone, and we were soon given notice, our employment with Frigo was going to end.  Our choice was to either fill out an application with Ryder or seek employment elsewhere.  There were about a half dozen drivers that were domiciled in Big Stone City, SD whose jobs were going to be eliminated.  I remember all too well, being called up to the dispatch office one afternoon.  One of the South Dakota drivers about had a nervous breakdown and I was asked to drive him and his rig back to Big Stone City.  It was an awful time.  Some drivers left in disgust, others, including myself decided to give Ryder a try.  I then filled out the application, interviewed was offered a job. Of course, there were some operational changes that Ryder was going to put in place and one of them was to eliminate one local driver position (I was considered local).  Since I was the lowest in seniority, that meant I had to go over the road.

So, in December of 1991, my employment with Frigo Cheese ended and a new chapter in my life began with Ryder Integrated Logistics!  Needless to say, I was not a Happy Camper to start with.

Stay tuned for Part IV

Link to Part IV

Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII

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