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Monday, March 12, 2012

Deciding on a Trucking Career, Part V

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

Back in the 1980’s, if anyone would have suggested that I would move from Wisconsin and live out west In Utah (for almost 19 years now), I would have said they were full of bananas (or honey, but at the time I didn't know that Utah was known as the "beehive" state!).  I had never, ever considered the possibility of leaving "Packerland". I was happy in a small town, rural area about 50 miles north of Green Bay. Had a decent house that I could afford with three acres of land, peace and quiet. And I could “hunt” dear in my back yard every hunting season!

I had spent about a year with Ryder up until the end of 1992 and had settled in with them. I wasn’t unhappy and was making a decent living. We had been hearing rumors of Frigo Cheese’s continuing financial difficulty, but I figured the milk and cheese markets are always up and down and they would weather the then current situation.  Suddenly, in early 1993, it was announced that Frigo had been sold to an outside buyer. He would retain the Frigo name and trademarks, but he was the new man in charge.

And the “new man in charge”, we soon found out, was not fond of 3rd party logistics providers. Seemed like he was more interested in finding the cheapest “provider” of transportation than in customer service.  Although Ryder had a three year contract and Frigo Cheese had a five year obligation on the tractors, he was looking to ways to get out of it, even taking bids from other trucking companies to assume the contract.  Looked like "the writing was on the wall" again! One of the great things about Ryder is that if you maintain a good work record, you can transfer anywhere in the country they have an opening. They will always let you transfer before they hire from outside.

So, not knowing what the future held, and after spending a few months thinking about it, we decided to put our house up for sale. We were almost a year and a half into our contract and I just could not see the possibility of them renewing.  The wife I had at the time had lived in Salt Lake City with her ex-husband for 15 years and always felt it was a good place to live, so I scheduled two weeks vacation in June of 1993 to drive out there and check it out.  I wanted to visit the Ryder accounts in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and Reno, and see what was available.  Our first stop was Salt Lake, where we had an account with Swire Coca-Cola.  I stopped by and was introduced to the Senior Operations Manager, Craig Schneider.  He interrupted a meeting he was in with another person to invite me in and the three of us talked for quite a while. He explained what the job was all about, even though they didn’t have any current need for a driver.  Craig even took me over for a plant tour, and I was so impressed with him and the operation that I made the decision right then and there, asking to be considered for the next available opportunity to transfer.  We then went on our way to Las Vegas and Reno to visit the other Ryder locations. Nothing we saw changed my mind and on the second week, we went back to Salt Lake City.  It seemed like a nice place to live and I stopped by the Ryder office to let them know that I was still interested in transferring.  Michelle Lochhead was one of the supervisors and when I went in to say hello, she said “Guess what?  We had two drivers resign in the past week.  When can you be out here?”

Talk about sudden reality!  Holy Cow, I had to get on the phone with my manager back in Wisconsin and ask permission to transfer.  He said yes, but he wanted two weeks, which was good with me. We then ran around the rest of the day looking for an apartment, found one, and put a deposit down. Then it was a race back to Wisconsin (stopping for gas, food, and to change drivers only) as I had a heck of a lot of planning and packing to do, as well as work two more weeks with Frigo.

On top of all that, I had special ordered a brand new 1993 Camaro Z28 from my Crivitz Chevy dealer and was waiting for them to build and ship it. Our house hadn’t sold yet and we were considering what to do about it. We weren’t back more than a couple days and got a call from a prospective buyer who just happened to be a Sheriff's Deputy for the county.  He came over, checked around, and asked if he could bring his wife over.  After she approved, he made an offer and we accepted.  There was no way we could close on the house however, before I had to be out to Salt Lake City in two weeks.  I ended up giving my wife power of attorney and she stayed in Wisconsin for an extra month to finish up. As the Camaro ran into production line problems and still hadn't been built, I was able to change the delivery to a Salt Lake City Chevy dealer.

So, two weeks later, we had a 29 foot U-haul truck filled up with all I could take, plus my motorcycle inside, towing a car behind and I was heading west to Utah!   I started my new job on July 12, 1993 at Ryder Integrated Logistic’s Swire Coca-Cola account in Salt Lake City, Utah!

Check back for Part VI
Link to Part VI

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

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