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DSC 2014 will provide solutions to driver shortage

Sept. 3, 2014
Over recent months, International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) members have been sharing ways to build a supply of good driver candidates in a series of articles penned by Caroline Perkins.

Going it alone in finding a solution to the driver shortage? You don’t have to. Over recent months, International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) members have been sharing ways to build a supply of good candidates in a series of articles penned by Caroline Perkins.

They’ve also discussed creative training programs to help candidates succeed. Four industry veterans featured in those articles will come together at the Distribution Solutions Conference (DSC 2014) to share their knowledge in the workshop “Two Driver Shortage Solutions: Robust Pipeline and Creative Training.”

Here are takeaways from two of those veterans on training they have developed.

Elliott Stephenson of Ben E Keith Foods—Ben E Keith Foods DFW division had a driver crisis in May 2013 when a number of drivers were hired away. Candidates for filling the positions were unsatisfactory.

“We were getting leftovers, people who were not aware that the job is to service customers,” said David Castillo, manager of administrative services at the branch. He turned to the Safety Department, and they devised a new training plan that would ensure that drivers learned the “Ben E Keith Way.” The revised strategy was twofold: First, start growing drivers within the company from warehouse employees who wanted a change, and second, work to attract driver applicants from the outside who had no bad habits.

They also developed a detailed Four Phase Training Program that has proved so successful that BEK plans to expand the program to its other divisions.

“There is no magic bullet for driver training,” said Dr Elliott Stephenson, vice-president of human resources at Ben E Keith’s headquarters. “It’s a constant process of tweaking to optimize the outcome, but this approach at DFW is really working. All of our divisions have training, but DFW is doing the best job of sharing the wisdom.”

Stephanie Wyatt of Maines Paper & Food Service—Maines operates a CDL (commercial driver license) school as well as a customer-service driver training program. The Driver Institute is a separate division of Maines and is open to anyone who wishes to earn CDL certification. Some graduates go on to work for Maines, while some move on to other companies or other industries.

Wyatt, vice-president of human resources for Maines, said the institute is a good pipeline for hiring delivery drivers.

“We have a rigorous hiring process and we have high standards for the individuals we bring on board,” she said. “Once hired, drivers go through six weeks of further training to educate them in the Maines way of doing things. That includes spending time in the office and time on the road with a driver trainer.”

The trainers are experienced drivers who not only do their job well, but also want to transfer knowledge to new hires. They also help if an existing driver needs remedial help. The trainers also get training so they can effectively train others. They are not only excellent drivers that know all of Maines’ processes and procedures, said Wyatt, but are also taught how to transfer that knowledge.

Joining Stephenson and Wyatt in the DSC 2014 workshop are Terry Cameron, director of human resources at McLane Foodservice; and Matt Holt, vice-president of human resources at Dot Foods. Caroline Perkins of The Foodservice Content Company will lead the discussion.

Phone 703-532-9400 or access www.ifdaonline.org for complete information.

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