Posts Tagged “haul produce”
I was in Chicago early Friday (June 14) when the first two loads of cherries arrived at the Chicago International Produce Market (CIPM) from Washington state. Cherry shipments have gotten off to a slow start, but should really be picking up in the days ahead.
The truckers were paid a gross freight of $4,500 for the run originating out of the Yakima Valley. The f.o.b. worth of the load of cherries was approximately $125,000!
There have been some concerns relating to weather factors causing cracks in Washington cherries this season. However, these loads of early variety Chelan cherries had decent quality. The more popular Bing variety of cherries should start shipments the week of June 24th.
If you haul produce and plan on loading Washington cherries, continue to check what’s being put into the truck. Just because this stone fruit had good quality, there’s not guarantee this cracking will not show up in future loads.
Volume on Washington cherries in increasing and should hit a peak around June 26 -28, just in time for Fourth of July deliveries.
Shipments should continue into August.
Washington also continues to ship late season apples and pears from both the Yakima and Wenachee valleys. Although not as attractive an item, the state’s Columbia Basin is still loading potatoes.
Columbia Basin potatoes – grossing about $4100 to Chicago.
Yakima valley apples and pears – about $6500 to New York City.
He talks about working directly with shippers for starters. For example, the past six years Allen has worked directly with Lipman, a 60-year-old farming and shipping operation that was known as Six Ls until a name change in September 2011. Based in Immokalee, FL, Lipman is North America’s largest field grower of tomatoes with 4,000 workers and 22 locations.
Not only does Allen work directly with shippers, but good ones.
“Six Ls can call me anytime and I’ll be there. I stick with them, but it works both ways. They treat me well and I provide them with great service,” says Allen, who lives in Canton, NC.
Another reason the 64-year–old veteran trucker has always been able to make it as an owner operator is because he has his own operating authority.
“Having your own authority makes a big difference,” Allen says. “You don’t have to pay some else to run under their operating authority.”
How often does he haul produce? Everyday. He pretty much hauls exclusively for Six Ls (Lipman), a company that also has several vegetable items in addition to tomatoes. Most of his hauls are up and down the East Coast, although he occasionally delivers in the Midwest.
On this recent November day, Allen was at on the Atlanta State Farmers Market delivering tomatoes he had picked up in Asheville, NC. He didn’t know where the tomatoes were grown. Once unloaded, he would be deadheading the 200 miles back to Asheville.
“I’ll be paid for the deadhead miles,” Allen says, although he did not want the amount per mile publicized for the record. If I haul something up there then I’ll get full pay.”
Another key to being a successful owner operator is being on time.
“You have got to be dependable and on time. Wal Mart will charge (deduct from your freight) $100 if you are a minute late for arrival. It happened to me one time,” he recalls.
Allen also rarely eats in a restaurant, although he averages well over 100,000 miles a year on the road. He saves by taking and preparing his own meals.
While being on time, having your own authority and working directly with shippers are keys to his success, these are not the most important factors.
“The most important thing,” Allen says, “is you have got to have what it takes inside of you. You have to want to do it. You have to have that internal drive to work.”
Operating as E.A.R. (Edward Allen Robinson), he owns a 2006 Western Star he actually purchased new in 2007. It is powered by a 550 h.p. twin turbo Caterpillar diesel and features an 18-speed transmission. The sleeper is fully equipped with everything from a flat screen tv to a microwave oven. The Star has logged 700,000 miles. It pulls a 53-foot Utility trailer with a Thermo King reefer unit.
Allen is seriously considering retiring in May 2013. However, he admits not being sure whether he is going to keep the Western Star or not.
However, a little later he adds jokingly, “I’m going to leave my truck in the yard for a little while, just in case I wear out my welcome at home.” He has been married 20 years and has six granddaughters and two grandsons.
He’s looking forward to the holidays and taking some time to be off with the family and buying gifts for the grand kids.
“It’s really worth it, just seeing the smiles on their faces,” he concludes.
It is difficult to find anyone in the trucking industry more aware of the checkered past of truck brokers than Jimmy DeMatteis. For this reason, and simply because it is the right thing to do, Jimmy goes out of his way to make sure those people behind the wheel of the big rigs get a fair shake.
As president of Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. (DMTB) he knows the reputation of the company’s 43 year history is on the line with each load. It all began in 1951 with his dad, James A. DeMatteis (Jim Sr.) hauling produce. By 1960 he was a small fleet owner and three years later became a broker of exempt commodities.
Jim DeMatteis Sr. with LJ Mack circa 1960
Jim Sr. started DMTB in 1969 and remained a one-man operation until 1984 when James R. DeMatteis (Jimmy) came aboard.
“We have always been advocates for small carriers and their success,” Jimmy says. To back up his claim, just go the company’s website at: www.dmtb.com where it states, “Our reputation for paying carriers is second to none”. DMTB has a policy to pay all carriers within one day of receiving the carrier’s freight bill.
Jimmy has served on the board of the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) for the past 6 years “because I believe in our industry and I want to see us do it right.”
Jimmy also serves on the Executive Committee of The Alliance for Safe, Efficient Competitive Truck Transportation (ASECTT) whose main focus is addressing “all the fallacies and flaws in CSA-2010.” He notes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) decided it was “going to ram this program down the throat of every motor carrier.” As a result ASECTT filed a lawsuit. It resulted in the FMCSA having to reevaluate the way it rated carriers through alerts in its safety management systems. The ratings system has resulted in safe carriers being rated as unsafe. “We want FMCSA to do their job. Their job is to determine the safety fitness of the motor carrier community. Instead they have chosen to deputize the motor carrier, shipper, and broker communities to do their work”
“We want the FMCSA to state they are the party responsible for a carrier’s safety fitness, not the shipper, not the broker,” he states. “Shippers are putting things in contracts based on CSA scores that black list many good small trucking companies. Carriers get put out of business because shippers or brokers won’t work with them as they are deemed unsafe by these scores or alerts.”
The problem comes from the FMCSA basing its program on percentages. “No matter how many bad carriers you get rid of, you are always going to have 35 percent that are going to have alerts. This is very damaging to small carriers. It works well for large carriers and gives them a distinct advantage,” Jimmy states.
Based inNorwalk,IA, DMTB recently moved into new facilities shared with a sister company, Capital City Fruit, with whom it has a 43-year relationship.
Jimmy emphasizes small trucking operations are the backbone of the trucking industry.
“I want to think we at DMTB get it. We treat others with respect, we pay fast and take time to talk to our drivers,” he says. Des Moines Truck Brokers has a policy if a driver walks into its office with bills of lading and the staff has not met that trucker before, everyone stands up, and introduces themselves and shakes his or her hand.
“We in the logistics industry all do important work, but at the end of the day, the person doing the most important work, is that guy or gal out there behind the wheel,” Jimmy states.
For more information about Des Moines Truck Brokers, Inc. go to www.dmtb.com or call 800-247-2514
The USA needs around 111,000 more drivers to move the nation’s freight, according to Doug Stobiber, vice president of produce transportation for L&M Transportation Services of Raleigh, NC. He was speaking at the produce industry’s largest gathering recently, the annual convention of the Production Marketing Association (PMA), held in Anaheim, CA
While Stoiber notes better pay and higher freight rates for drivers is important, he placed just as much emphasis on truckers being repected.
He points out there is a shortage of qualified drivers and it is only going to get worse, primarily because fewer younger drivers are entering the industry, combined with greater numbers of older truckers retiring. While the average age of the commerical driver is 48 years old, the ones under 30 years of age amount to less than 10 percent.
Current law requires commerical driver’s operating interstate be at least 21 years old. President Obama is in favor of permitting states to lower the age limit to 18 years old. While supporters of this proposal are looking at ways to increase the number of drivers with CDLs (commerical drivers license), opponents point out the high accident rate among teenage automobile drivers, saying they are too young and immature to drive a big rig.
Starting this year, the nation’s largest generation (baby boomers) are reaching 65 years of age. They are retiring at a rate of 10,000 each day.
Stoiber made some economic comparisions between hauling dry freight, compared to fresh produce. There are liabilities as a produce trucker. Those remain until the papers are signed and the receiver accepts the load. The use of a refrigeration unit on a trailer adds an additional $1,500 in costs to a coast-to-coast haul. Overall, there are fewer risks with dry freight. Even with all the economic factors involved in produce hauling, Stoiber emphasizes the need for the produce industry giving drivers more respect. This will go along way in attracting more drivers to haul produce.
“Truckers have been viewed as obstacles to doing business instead of partners in the supply chain,” Stoiber said.
He encouraged the audience to pay higher freight rates and to think in terms of price per consumer unit instead of $1,000 per load. It comes down to more than just a good freight rate. Loyalty and respect are very important to truckers, he said.
Stoiber also addressed issues brought forward by a group encourging better practices in dealing with produce truckers. The North American Produce Transportation Working Group (NAPTWA) earlier this year released guidelines for making fresh produce hauling more attractive. Tips range from decreasing detention time when loading and unloading, to allowing drivers to watch loading.
The best practices are regularly reviewed and updated as federal regulations and other factors change the way truckers are allowed to operate, said Stoiber, who is a member of NAPTWA. The best practices are free on the working group’s website at www.naptwg.org.
If you haul produce in the fall out of Florida, expect weather related small gaps in the early part of the sweet corn season as well as with small harvest and loading delays with green beans, bell peppers, cucumbers and squash.
Volume for early bean shipments also is expected to be off and on. However, loads are not expected to be until early December.
On some vegetables, including bell peppers, cucumbers and squash, be on the look out for quality issues resutling from frequent rains durng the growing season.
Sporadic harvesting and shipments could make things interesting for the active shipping period when deliveries for the Thanksgiving holidays could get a little dicey. I’m not saying this will happen, but just be aware of the potential problems.
Florida pepper shipments should be in decent volume by the end of October.
If Georgia experiences favorable November weather, shipments there could continue through Thanksgiving.
However, southern Georgia fall veggies are having some problems with whiteflies. For example, some yellow squash is looking more like albino (white) squash as the pests suck out the nutrients. I’d be sure and let my receiver(s) know what you are preparing to load rather than find out if they’ll accept it upon arrival!
Besides squash, the pests also are affecting cucumbers, bell peppers and grean beans. Sweet corn apparently isn’t being significantly hit. Lower yields will mean less product for hauling. Color of the fall vegetables also is being affected. Unfortunately, color and general appearance often receive as much emphasis as the quality of product in this cosmetic world.
South Georgia vegetables – grossing about $2200 to New York City.
Potatoes and onions, commonly known as “hardware items” because they are less perishable and generally pose fewer problems when hauling, also normally do not pay as good a freight as most more perishable items. However, the further into fall and the closer to winter, overall fresh fruit and vegetable volume declines, and so do freight rates — and loading opportunties. Therefore, if nothing more than out of necessity potatoes and onions begin looking more attractive if you want or need to haul produce.
In the Snake River area of Oregon there is good demand heading into winter for trucks. An early start of the shipping season combined with fewer onions means less product is left for shipping than normal. Truck loads could be down 15-20% for Treasure Valley growers, due to the fourth-hottest summer on record and other weather-related issues. Fewer onions mean shippers are having less difficulty finding enough trucks to move product.
Around the border area of Western Idaho and Malheur County, OR, nearly 700 truckloads of storage onions are being shipped weekly.
Washington-Oregon Onions and Potatoes
Similar volume with onion shipments are available from the border area of the Columbia Basin in Washington and the Umatilla Basin of Oregon. In Northwest Washington, just north of Seattle is light volume with red and white potatoes from the Skagit Valley.
The nation’s largest volume potato shipper has another huge crop this year. The state is averaging around 1500 truck load equivalents per week, although a significant amount of these potatoes are loaded in rail cars.
Colorado Potatoes and Onions
Storage onions are being shipped from Colorado’s Western Slope, near Olathe, and will continue well into January. Excellent quality is reported. Loads have been moving out of the area at a brisk pace in part because of Colorado’s freight advantage over western shippers….In south-central Colorado is the San Luis Valley, which is shipping around 750 truck loads of spuds per week.
Colorado potatoes – grossing about $1800 to Dallas.
Idaho potatoes – about $5500 to New York City.
Columbia Basin/Umatilla Basin (Washington and Oregon) potatoes and onions – about $4200 to Chicago.