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Six ways to relieve supply chain pain: No.4 – Appreciate Frontliners

supply chain solutions pain

While there is no silver bullet solution for the supply chain problems the industry is forced to deal with, Produce Blueprints experts’ collective wisdom coalesces into six priorities for alleviating supply chain pain.

If we learned anything during the early days of the pandemic, it’s that supply chain team members are essential workers. Frontline staff working in the fields, packing plants, and warehouses perform critical tasks and provide the capability to keep up with demand.

Competition for these frontline workers is intense. Which is why it’s vital to compensate team members fairly, treat them with respect, and provide positive working conditions. In short, the priority must be to create a positive culture that promotes productivity and retention.

Given the transportation capacity crunch, the same goal applies to truck drivers. While they are not typically the direct employees of produce companies, drivers are an indispensable group who impact success.

“I’ve been saying for 25 years, be good to the drivers because they take care of your product and they represent you to customers,” says Kenny Lund, executive vice president at Allen Lund Company, LLC BB #:107465.

The priority for produce companies is to be known as shippers of choice that drivers want to serve. This means loading and unloading freight quickly, paying freight bills in a timely fashion, and communicating effectively. Being driver-friendly can generate needed capacity.

“I had a bakery account that would give every truck driver a cup of coffee and a case of baked goods,” recalls Lund. “Drivers would request their loads even though the pay was $100 less than a similar load for other shippers.”

This an excerpt from the Supply Chain Solutions Department from the May/June 2022 issue of Produce Blueprints Magazine. Click here to read the whole issue.


Dr. Brian Gibson is executive director of Auburn University’s Center for Supply Chain Innovation and a former logistics manager.