Posts Tagged “Bill Martin” is Now 10 Years Old and Counting!

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During my 47 years involvement with the trucking and produce industries, it has been my privilege to work with men and women, who are dedicated, hard-working and mostly good, down-to-earth honest folks. Without either industry it would be impossible to bring the finest fruits and vegetable to a hungry nation every single day.  This is why I’ve been so proud to be part of these dynamic Industries.

And nothing is more important to the supply chain than trucks and truckers. Without you our great country would come to a halt.

I launched my career in September 1974 and was soon heavily involved in the most drastic change of the trucking industry, its deregulation. From this point on it has been a dynamic and exciting ride; one which I have never regretted. was formally launched in January 2012 and I “retired” nearly three years later. Over the past decade I’ve posted over 3,150 news and feature stories. Hopefully a few of the things I’ve learned over the past half century are beneficial.

May this special time of the year bring you peace, good health, and happiness.   And may 2022 bring us hope, resilience and a belief the human race will become better.

I sincerely thank you for your loyalty and kindness.

-Bill Martin-

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Irwin Groff: The Best Long Haul Trucker I Ever Knew

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Bill Martin of Haul Produce with trucker Irwin Groff in Tampa, FL, March 2009.

The trucking industry lost one of its finest last Friday, June 21st, with the passing of Irwin L. Groff, 78, of Lititz, PA, although he spent most of his life living in New Holland. He passed away following a lengthy illness at Brethren Village.

Irvie was a dear friend of mine and one of the best long haul truckers to ever own a big rig. I often referred to him as Mr. Chairman, because he served as chairman of the non-profit Independent Truckers Association for several years and I had the honor of serving on the board with him.

Irvie was an independent trucker for 46 years, retiring in 2006. He had driven over 5 million millions. I want to say they were accident free, but it seems there was a minor accident at one time along the way.

He was an owner operator, but I remember him more as an independent trucker, because he was truly independent. Not only did he have his own operating authority allowing him to work directly with shippers, but he was a business man.

I first met Irvie in 1980 at a trucking convention. Over the following years we attended many truck shows and conventions together. He knew equipment inside and out and I learned so much from him.

Irvie kept detailed records of his operating costs and how much net profit was there. He had a formula for doing it and never operated a year in the red.

Irvie was a smart, caring, loving decent human being and devoted family man. He was a mentor to younger drivers.

Irvie taught Sunday School for 26 years, was a member of Transport for Christ, and managed the Chicken BBQ for the Brethern Disaster Relief auction for several years. He also enjoyed customizing Smith-Miller toy trucks in his retirement.

Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, June 26 at 10 am at Conestoga Church of the Brethren, 141 E. Main St., Leola, PA. Interment will be in the Bareville Cemetery. Viewing will be held on Tuesday from 6-8 pm and on Wednesday from 9-10 am at the Church. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Transport for Christ, To send the family online condolences visit us at Arrangements by Groff-High Funeral Home, New Holland.

Deepest sympathies to his wife Joyce and other family members. RIP Irvie. You will be missed.

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As We Plow Right into 2018, Wishing You Much Happiness and Health!

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BillMartinDaneBasham (2)I’m not sure where 2017 went, but ready or not I’m plowing right into 2018!

I’ve been very blessed in many ways, one of which is the way continues to have more folks signing up for our free subscriptions.  This tells me you are finding worthwhile information here relating to produce hauling, as well as other news such as the health benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.

There have now been over 1900 posts published on the website since it was launched on January 12, 2012.  Six years! Where has the time gone!

The primary sponsors of HaulProduce –  Allen Lund Co., Cool Runnings, and DMTB, I have personally known the owners a combined 105 years!  They are all good, honest people that I can’t say enough good things about.  The bottom line is they care about maintaining impeccable business reputations and they truly care about the trucking industry and particularly the hard working Americans that deliver well over 9o percent of the fresh produce to destinations across North America.

So, here is a shout out to 3 of the finest men I’ve ever known – Allen Lund, Fred Plotsky and Jimmy DeMatteis.

It looks like we are entering another cycle in the trucking industry.  If you are old enough you have witnessed several of these over the years.  The economy slows down, excess equipment is out there and freight rates plunge.  Luckily, it looks like what started in 2017 is just really getting started with this new cycle in trucking.  The economy is picking up, equipment and qualified drivers are harder to find, and freight rates are on the rise.

Of course, we can always count on the federal and state governments to put a damper on things, particularly with more rules, regulations and taxes, most of which seem to do more harm than good, and often increase costs of operation.

I continue to be amazed, especially with the owner operators and small fleet owners, that continue to persevere.

This is wishing each of you much happiness and health in the New Year. – Bill Martin





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A Few Thoughts About What Thanksgiving Means to Me

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DSCN4604Happy Thanksgiving!  Come February will quietly celebrate its 5th anniversary of providing you with what I hope is information worth your valuable time ranging from active produce shipping areas, peak shipping periods, caution when needed about quality problems at shipping point, demand for refrigerated equipment, produce trucking rates, not mention health stories and other news related to perishables.  Unabashedly this site is a proponent of healthy eating and promoting the health benefits of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Fresh produce is a daily part of my diet.

Today, there are nearly 1000 subscribers to HaulProduce and I cannot thank each of you enough.  Since its inception nearly 1900 posts have been placed on this blog.

It has been three years now since retiring after 40-plus years traveling this great nation as a journalist writing about both the trucking and produce industries.  It was this knowledge gained from both industries that led me to create the Produce Truckers Network back in the 1980s.  At its peak it had over 60 radio stations across North America and also was on satellite radio for several years before its completion after 20 years on the air.  The same concept exists today with HaulProduce.

Although officially, retired, this outlet allows me to continue to doing something I love – and at the same time provide something useful to our subscribers.  At the same time it allows spending more time with my kids, grandson and my lovely wife of 49 years.

It is with all of this in mind I plan to fully enjoy Thanksgiving, to appreciate and give thanks for all the opportunities available in the United States of America.

I will thank the good Lord for all those “highway warriors” that deliver over 95 percent of the fresh produce to markets across this great nation, as well as being thankful for everyone else in the distribution chain from growers and shippers, to all forms of companies involved in the distribution chain.  It certainly doesn’t end up on our Thanksgiving dinner table by magic.

May God bless each of you and have a blessed Thanksgiving.

— Bill Martin



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In-Transit Challenges, Part III: Checking Product Upon Arrival

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DSCN7138While TransFresh Corp. devotes plenty of resources to preparing fresh berries for in-transit travel to destinations far and wide, it also has specialists at the docks to evaluate product when it is ready to come off the truck.

“We continue to be involved with tracking the product and how it is doing upon arrival,” states Rich Macleod of TransFresh Corp., known for its Tectrol® Service Network that provides covering for palletized product infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), extending the quality of life for perishable items such as berries.

With of the projects of TransFresh is partnering with the Scotland based company, Insignia Technologies that manufactures temperature sensitive labels that go on cartons.

“What’s really intriguing about their technology is rather than it being a temperature switch, i.e., if a particular carton senses a temperature of 50 degrees F. or higher at anytime, it will change color,” Macleod observes.

For example if a carton of berries is unloaded off the truck at destination, and it is showing a little warmer temperature verses other cartons, it can be put another truck for faster store delivery before other product with cooler temperatures.  The same theory applies even at the retail store level.  If a produce manager sees a color change with a carton, he knows it should be put in a display case to be sold before other products.

“This can help maintain quality and reduce shrink with product, and the customer  ‘experience'”, Macleod says.  “So we have been doing a lot of work in this area to improve the technology.  Lots of people are wanting to try it, but it is still in its infancy.  It usually requires me, or one of my associates to be there for the testing.  We’re probably another year away from announcing something on this.”

This research is unique, Macleod notes, because the visual color change with the carton reveals any “abuse” of the product, anywhere along the shipping point to destination.

“In the transportation (in-transit) portion, we’re going to give them (drivers) a lot of leeway.  The color changes won’t be changing until the product hits the retail store,” Macleod says. “So this is a product we are working on and it is coming.  I see a huge upside to that, because there are concerns about food safety and temperature.  This may allow us to identify that random carton,” he concludes. — Bill Martin

(This is last of a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA.  He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)





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In-Transit Challenges, Part II: Research, Technology is Improving Berry Arrivals

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RichMacleod13Berries have always posed one of the higher risks for produce truckers because of in-transit perishability.  However, because of research and technology the chances of a retailer being pleased with quality upon arrival at the dock are much better. That can mean fewer problems for the driver at destination.

TransFresh Corp. of Salinas, CA has been at the forefront for decades in studying ways to extend the shelf life of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, among other items.

Some of the technology research at TransFresh is resulting from the way strawberries are now being marketed, Rich Macleod of the company relates.  Just take a look in the produce department at your local supermarket and chances are you’ll see more two-pound and four-pound strawberries in clamshell packaging being promoted, with less emphasis on one pounders.

At the same time, raspberries, which are among the most perishable of berries, has been receiving extra attention.

“We still need to learn how to correctly ship raspberries.   At TransFresh we’ve had to make adjustments a couple of times for shipping raspberries,” Macleod releates.  Much of that learning process relates to the Tectrol program where palletized fruit is sealed in a bag with CO2 (carbon dioxide) that slows product deterioration and extends the life of the product.

“Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries all use the same common denominator,” Macleod observes.  “But what happens is we customize the pallet bag we put on each product.  So at the time the strawberry pallet or raspberry pallet moves across our conveyors (at the packing house), the people (working there) approve a bag (for shipping).”

Much of that approval is based on the color of the palletized bag, which determines on which load the product will be shipped.

For example, raspberries may be in a green bag, strawberries in a red bag, etc.  Additionally, all the bags are numbered.

Macleod adds, “There is some sophistication even among the colors of the bags.  The two pounders (clamshell packs)  have a different color from the four pounders and one pounders.  We are always training the operators of the machines for the pallets, which bags to select.” — Bill Martin

(This is Part II in a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA.  He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)



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In-Transit Challenges, Part I: Modified Atmosphere Makes a Difference

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RichMacleod13Among the most perishable produce items refrigerated haulers transport are berries.  But a produce trucker’s risk of a claims or rejected load at destination is certainly reduced thanks to TransFresh Crop., the widely recognized leader of in-transit, pallet modified atmosphere service.

The Salinas, CA based company, now approaching its 50th year of operation, offers fully automated pallet service systems which tailor the specific atmosphere mixture for each pallet unit.  Benefactors of TransFresh’s  Tectrol® Service Network range from shippers, to truckers, receivers, and ultimately the consumer.  It is a process whereby pallets of berries are sealed with bags and infused with CO2 (carbon dioxide), a process that extends shelf life of the fruit.

Rich Macleod of TransFresh says the Tectrol process continues to dominate the market share in the produce industry, but says there will always be competition.

“If you want the modified atmosphere or the CO2 blanket for your berries at retail, it has got to be sealed and it has got to be at the right (CO2) level,” he states.

TransFresh has a group of technicians conducting inspections at retail operations upon delivery of some loads.

“We are pretty unique in this area.  The driver shouldn’t be too surprised to see a technician standing at the back of his trailer taking readings of the atmosphere,” Macleod says.

Feedback from produce truckers is appreciated by the technicians and those drivers appreciate what is being done, once the process is explained to them, he notes.

Still, there are challenges.   For example, there may be turnover at retail and a new produce buyer may be looking to cut costs, or a new strawberry salesman may be wanting to increase profit margins.  However, Macleod says if part of that decision involves not using the controlled atmosphere bags on the pallet, that retailer is not going to get the pay back he expects.

If you haul California strawberries, perhaps you have noticed some consolidations with some companies and down sizing of operations by others.  Strawberry growers have been faced with increasing production costs and there has been a trend to focus more on growing raspberries, blueberries, etc.

At the same time, Macleod believes a few of the larger berry shippers who have successful marketing programs, appear to be doing quite well. — Bill Martin

(This is Part I in a III-Part series based on an interview with Rich Macleod, vice president, pallet division North America for TransFresh Corp, Salinas, CA.  He has been with the company 40 years and has a masters degree in post harvest science from the University of California, Davis.)


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Wishing You a Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2016!

It has been a memorable year for   We’ll be noting, if not celebrating our 4th anniversary on January 12th, of providing you the most up to date information on hauling fresh fruits and vegetables as well as issues surrounding fresh produce that may affect you.

We posted our 1300th item on December 18th.  Those taking advantage of our free subscription continues to grow.  This is where you are automatically notified of new postings.  We have now surpassed 350 subscribers.

I want to thank my sponsors, all of whom I’ve personally known 20 years or more.  All of them represent the highest standards of honesty and integrity, and truly care not only about their customers, but the men and women behind the wheel of the big rigs that keep this nation moving.

There is Allen Lund and Kenny Lund (Allen Lund Company), Fred Plotsky (Cool Runnings) and Jimmy DeMatteis (Des Moines Truck Brokers).  If you are an owner operator, small fleet owner or some other type of long haul carrier, you are in good hands with these folks.

TransFresh is another sponsor, but of a different nature.  When you click on their ad it can open a lot of doors to valuable information for those involved with transporting perishables.  Rich Macleod of TransFresh has a soft spot for the hard work ethic and the issues facing produce truckers, and he understands and appareciates the vital role they play.

The challenge of not only finding produce loads, but being paid a fair freight rate, is just the start.  Delivering that perishable product from point A to point B in a timely fashion, and in good condition can be equally as challenging.  Hopefully, through we can play a small part in making your business more successful.

In the meantime, here is wishing you a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2016 – and of course, safe travels.  God Bless. —Bill Martin







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Veteran’s Day: Thankful for Our Heroes

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As a veteran I VetsDayhad about as good a duty as you get.  My first 18 months was in the Philippines.  I was editor of a base newsletter at the Cubi Point Naval Air Station, plus I had an additional job as editor of the officer’s club newsletter at nearby Subic Bay.  That meant $100 extra per month for an E-2 grade sailor right out of boot camp.  As icing on the cake I had full access to the officers club since I interviewed and photographed acts performing at the officer’s club ranging from Johnny Mathis to the Ink Spots.   From the Philippines I spent 2 months on a heavy cruiser based out of Norfolk, VA before transferring to a submarine base in Groton, CT, where I served in the public affairs office on the admiral’s staff, which included doing a Navy news program on local radio.

I point this out because today is Veteran’s Day – and I want to honor those that are the real heroes.  I could have easily received duty where I may have been killed in a Vietnam jungle as 50,000 American heroes did, including a handful of friends I grew up with.  I well remember flying home for leave from a U.S. Air Force base in the Philippines to Anchorage Alaska on a medivac flight that was filled with injured service men from Vietnam. Now those are real heroes.

I’ve often thought that young people in America who have never spent time in poor countries, where poverty and sickness are rampant, often don’t really appreciate what they have here in the United States.

So here is to the real American heroes, our service men and women who serve and have served so valiantly to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy in this great country.  God Bless you. —

JO2 Bill Martin, USN


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Produce Rates Ain’t What They Used to be

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IMG_6391Remember only a few summers ago when produce trucking rates from California to the East Coast were hitting $10,000?  It hasn’t even come close to that in 2015 – and there appears to be a number of factors why.

As we head towards the Labor Day weekend final shipments to receivers for the holiday are now underway, if not already delivered.  Don’t expect major rate increases.

East bound coast to coast rates in the summer of 2014 that were in the $8000 range are closer to $6500 this summer.

Here’s my take on why produce trucking rates are off.

***Less California Produce Volume.  The 5-year California drought is beginning to take its toll on agriculture and it’s going to get a lot worse unless the El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean changes things this winter.

The San Joaquin Valley is being hit relatively hard by the drought and it is adversely affecting volume on many crops ranging from cantaloupe and honeydew and other melons to stone fruit, tomatoes and citrus.  In the Salinas Valley, which has not suffered from the drought as much as in the San Joaquin Valley, all types of lettuce volumes have been like a roller coaster this summer.

The highest rates from California to the East Coast this year have been in the $8,000 range, and those were only for a limited amount of time.

***Rail Competition.  While the railroads provide only limited competition, it still has an affect of produce trucking rates.  After all, the rail rates are based trucking rates and often offer 10 to 15 percent less to haul.  Still, we’ve seen a couple of rail related companies go out of business this year.  The railroads have a history of dropping produce related services for other, less perishable products.

***Rules and Regulations.  The insanity of excessive rules and regulations from both the federal and state levels continues, and it is having disasterous effects on owner operators.  Rates are not keeping up with increasing costs of operations, although lower fuel prices have helped.  Still, when you have the California Air Resources Board and their emission standards and other business killing rules, plus the feds pushing to implement Electronic on-board Recorders, not to mention many others, it all adds up.

***Qualified Drivers

The lack of qualified drivers continues to be a problem, although it could become a lot worse when the economy turns around.  Attracting young people into the trucking industry continues to be a challenge.  It’s a hard life and there’s certainly easier ways to make a living.

***Mexico.  Over the past 20 years more and more produce is being grown in Mexico, and much of it is being driven by investments from  American farming operations.  Mexico has cheaper labor and less government interference in their operations.  At the same time there is less produce being grown in California — Bill Martin.


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