With Rich Macleod’s pending departure from TransFresh Corporation June 30th, he leaves a legacy of being one of the most important individuals making immense contributions to in-transit perishable hauling since refrigerated truck transportation was invented following WWII.
It was 40 years ago that Rich joined TransFresh based in Salinas, CA, a company barely 10 years old focusing on perishables transportation.
Having known Rich much of this time and before that having covered a number of presentations by one of his mentors Dr. Bob Kasmire, Rich has always had a “soft spot” for produce trucking and the drivers of the big rigs delivering fresh fruits and vegetables.
“One thing that is critically important to anyone working in this trade is to respect every single level of those people that are feeding the retail chains and the consumers,” Rich says. “A lot of respect for the drivers comes from hanging out on these docks taking pulp temperatures, or atmosphere readings, or doing these studies on what’s going inside these trucks from a temperature standpoint.”
During this time Rich often spent a lot of time talking with truckers.
“They are a good group of professionals for the most part,” Rich says.
He also believes over the years produce shippers have started showing more respect for the men and women hauling those perishables. He also sees fewer incidents of lumpers at unloading docks “messing” with drivers.
Likewise, he is observing more receivers following the Costco model. In other words, if the truck arrives on time, it will be unloaded on time. By no means does he see a perfect world in this regard as there are still claims and “monkey wrenches” thrown into situations.
“But for the most part there has been a gradual improvement in the attitudes towards the drivers,” Rich states. “I don’t know how you run a business without making sure the transportation piece is being well taken care of.”
Rich adds one doesn’t get to where they are in a career without a number of mentors. A very important influence was Dr. Kasmire. He worked very closely with Dr. Kasmire as a research assistant at the University of California, Davis on transit issues. When Rich left for a career at TransFresh the two continued to working on projects together.
“A number of things in his publications are actually ideas that he and I generated together,” Rich recalls. “That’s why I have a soft spot for transportation. It is clearly generated by what Bob Kasmire taught me and what we’ve done together over the years. It’s really some of his passion coming through in my career.”
Rich still sees opportunities for progress that can be made with equipment and with drivers for the safety of our food. At the same time, it can’t be done by cutting corners.
“The reality is the drivers know when people are cutting corners. They know when they stuff (over load) a trailer there is a risk. They know when the buyer puts things on the truck that’s a risk. These guys know and they keep their mouths shut because that’s where they are on the job. They could actually be efficiency experts,” Rich says.
Meanwhile, nearly 30 years after Rich created the Fresh Produce Mixer & Loading Guide, he still receives probably 100 requests a year for it. The ground breaking in-transit research on berries at TransFresh will continue.
Rich seems very comfortable with the fact Michael Parachini, whose been with TransFresh 27 years, will continue his work. He describes Michael as his “right hand arm” for the past 20-plus years, working with the shipper base, Techrol process and equipment that plays a key in longer shelf life for fruit. He also names Reilly P. Rhodes, who has been with company over 20 years, saying he will have expanded roles that include marketing. Rich says Reilly has been instrumental in developing storage solutions for blueberries.
While retiring as the director of the TransFresh Pallet Division, Rich isn’t one to be complacent in a rocking chair. He will devote more time to helping the family with his aging parents, being more a part of the family grape and wine business, Macleod Family Vineyard in Sonoma County, CA, plus playing music in a local band. Rich also hasn’t ruled out sharing his vast knowledge through consulting.