While much of Associated Food Stores’ service area is in drought, or near-drought level conditions, the frequent snowstorms that will help fill area reservoirs in the future pose immediate challenges for company drivers as they deliver groceries to more than 400 retailers across nine states.
“The wet, cold weather impacts everything,” said Wayne Kinder, transportation manager. “It affects our pre-trip preparation and obviously the roads while we’re in route. Many don’t think about this, but it also impacts getting into store docks.”
Wayne shares that more trucks require chains to get in and out of snowy, icy docks than any other place on the road.
“We’re very grateful for store teams that keep their back alleys, docks and delivery doors clean and as dry as possible,” said Wayne.
Wayne and the transportation team are on constant weather watch to ensure conditions are safe and that the best routes are utilized. Team members watch department of transportation websites and other sources for updates on weather, road conditions and potential closures.
“We do everything we can to keep drivers out of harm’s way,” said Wayne. “We will run single trailers if needed and wait for conditions to open when necessary.”
There are approximately 200 Associated Food Stores’ drivers and about 70 departures from the Farr West Distribution Center every day. According to Wayne, drivers leave at all hours of the day and night. He also shares that the most challenging section of highway is the I-80 (WY) corridor.
“It’s an incredibly challenging job,” said Wayne. “Our drivers are trained professionals and, often, it’s the cars around them that cause safety concerns. We are extremely careful and recognize our trucks are the source of much-needed food for many families. We do what we do for our retailers and the communities they serve.”