Tracking Deliveries: A Day in a Driver's Life

Greg Crossland grew up in a family of truck drivers. He has worked at Wolf Distribution for four years. "This is where I'm happy," he says. "I can't be in an office every day."

Crossland counts every piece he delivers and checks it against the paperwork that the receiving company must sign, this time at Superior Distribution in Annapolis, Md.

A metal bar provides leverage for Crossland to tighten straps that hold down the various supplies inside the van. He then will secure the van's curtains with the dozens of belts that are attached to each curtain side.

After a 15-minute wait, Crossland gets to enter J.F. Johnson Lumber in Annapolis, Md., and begin delivering a load of decking, ceiling tiles, and balusters.

Nearing the end of his deliveries–with just some vinyl trim left to hand-carry into a store–Crossland picks up blocks of wood used to support previously delivered pallets and stores them in a box so they won't rattle around the truck. Wolf drivers are required to deliver their trailers back to the yard clean and organized.

Randy Henderson's entire delivery to Lincoln Creek Lumber in Centralia, Wash., consisted of one door slab. Distributors figure a stop costs them money unless they can generate at least $150 gross profit. In this case, Huttig didn't, but it makes up for that loss with bigger deliveries to the customer on other days.

Henderson arranges some trim in such a way that a crew member at Mountain Lumber in Yelm, Wash., can retrieve it.

Henderson directs a crew member from Capitol Lumber in Olympia, Wash. Henderson usually watches ESPN while exercising at 3 a.m., in part so he can banter with lumberyard employees on the latest sports news.

It took nine minutes of waiting in the left-turn lane before Henderson was able to get into the parking lot of Tanglewilde Lumber in Olympia, Wash. He needed just 12 minutes to unload the goods, close up, and head out again.

Now that Capitol Lumber's goods have been removed, Henderson will have to re-secure all the remaining goods with straps before closing the curtain and moving on.

Larry Almaas (foreground) joins other Huttig drivers to review the day's route. They check who is to be served, what's to be delivered, and what order those deliveries will occur. Drivers may change the order if they know a customer further down the list has a special need.

Almaas uses a metal bar to give each tire a light thump. It helps him detect whether the tire is underinflated or could have tread problems.

It was dry when Almaas left Auburn, but up near Snoqualmie Pass there's rain and some extensive roadwork. He typically travels 400 miles in a day.

After making a tight left turn into the yard, Almaas has to pull his trailer's heavy curtain all the way open in order for a forklift driver at Marson & Marson Lumber in Wenatchee, Wash., to take off a shipment of I-joists.

Some distributors believe we'll move to electronic documents, but for now, handling paperwork is a key part of what drivers do. Here Almaas gets the signature acknowledging he delivered goods to Western Materials in Wenatchee, Wash.

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