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Friday, March 9, 2012

Deciding on a Trucking Career, Part IV
(This is Part IV of a series, “Deciding on a Career”.  I would suggest reading Parts I, II and III first, they were posted earlier in this blog.)
So, in November of 1991, my career with Ryder Integrated Logistics began.  As mentioned, I was forced to go over the road as Ryder eliminated one local driving position and I had the least seniority at Frigo Cheese.  I was certainly not looking forward to it, as the memories of being on the road those 6 months in 1983 came flooding back.  I had been running a five state area with occasional single night layovers, and I really didn’t want to go back to living in a truck.  

When Ryder management went over what the new dispatch procedures would be on orientation day, it was a ray of hope.  There would be 9 over the road drivers at our location and each week, the supervisor would choose 9 routes for our drivers.  The loads that Ryder didn’t take were brokered to outside carriers.  The area we covered was basically everything east of the Rockies. Every driver had a seniority number and the first week, driver 1 would choose his load from what was available.  Next, driver 2 would choose from the remaining 8 loads and so on down to the last driver who had to take the last available run.  The following week, the driver who had the last pick moved to the top of the board and had the first pick of those runs. And so, whoever had first pick,  would move down the board every week until he got to the top again.  With this procedure there were only one out of every 9 weeks that we didn’t have at least some choice in picking choosing where we wanted to go.

I started out picking mostly shorter runs that stayed in the Midwest, but quickly found out that I needed to grab the miles on longer runs when I could to make decent money.  My original intent was to take the short routes, get home early on Wednesday or Thursday and run some milk loads before having to go out on Sunday again.  That didn’t work out, as they phased us Ryder drivers out of hauling their milk and all loads went to outside carriers.  It wasn’t long before I discovered the Texas and Florida loads were always the first to be picked and I would grab them whenever I could.  My favorite run would be from Lena to Dallas, then make a triangle to San Antonio and Houston, before coming home.  The one great thing with Ryder, they needed to get us home EVERY week, because they needed to reload our trailers and have us ready to go on the following week’s loads.  There was no sitting around truck stops for a day or two waiting for them to find a back haul.  If they couldn’t find anything to bring back within a reasonable amount of time, they would dead-head us home.

Working with this dispatch system, I was doing OK.  My Ryder Logistics Manager was a decent person whom I got along with, as well as our dispatcher.  I had a nice Kenworth tractor with a walk-in sleeper, set it up with TV, VCR, cooler, etc and was able to be home enough that my life was not bad.  Some of the runs sucked, but some were pretty enjoyable.  I had gotten used to my life and didn’t have a constant need to “get off the road”.  For that, I have a lot of thanks for Brad Millikin, our former Logistics Manager.  When Ryder first took over, they brought a manager up from Chicago.  There was some friction between us as I became educated in the “Ryder Way”.  Turned out, after a few months, there was some friction developing between he and the customer “Frigo Cheese”.  Suddenly, a change was made and they brought Brad up from Chicago to replace him.  Brad fell in love with northern Wisconsin, bought a house in Sobieski (near Green Bay) and moved his wife and kids up.  He was a smart guy, easy to get along with and was a pleasure to work for. Although he moved on from Ryder a few years ago, I believe he and his family are still in Wisconsin.

After about a year and a half, one of three local drivers resigned.  As soon as I found out, I went to the Logistics Manager, requested that job and was given it.  I was pretty happy, surviving that time on the road and now able to go back to what I was doing for so many years before Ryder took over.  Life was looking very good at that point, although Frigo had been sold to a new owner and rumors were flying.

And, wouldn’t you just know it?  The “winds of change” started to blow again!

Check back for Part V!

Link to Part V

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

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