Our job is to get millions of pounds of the highest quality onions from our fields to America’s tables, but we can’t do it alone. That’s where our wonderful team at Gills Freight comes in to save the day.
Gills Freight drivers move our raw onion products from the fields to our state-of-the-art processing facility. They also make sure necessary equipment makes it to the right fields at the right time throughout the onion growing process. It’s a very complicated – and essential – part of what we do.
Let’s take a look at a day in the life of a Gills Freight driver.
Organization: The Key to Success
Ron Perry, a 30+ year employee of Gills Onions, is currently the head of Gills Freight. He manages the teams of drivers that transport raw onions from the fields and the teams that carry products to cross docks where it is loaded and shipped through the U.S. and Canada.
By the time most of us are snoozing our alarm clocks, Ron has been up making things happen for hours. His day starts about 4:30 a.m. with the dispatch board. The board tells every driver what they are doing for the day and where they are driving. It’s Ron’s job to make sure the board is always up to date and that onions and equipment are being picked up and delivered on schedule. He’ll also look ahead at the rest of the week to determine how many loads will need to be hauled in the coming days. Drivers will typically know exactly what they will be doing from Monday through Saturday. Planning is everything, and Ron is the first line of defense.
About 6 a.m. it’s time to head to the shipping office and review invoicing and paperwork for the loads that went out the night before and for the loads of onion products that will be moved that day. It doesn’t matter how many onions are moved if there isn’t accurate documentation. Ron determines the freight costs for every order that takes place.
The rest of the day is filled with supporting drivers. Ron responds to any problems that arise, coordinates scheduled maintenance, and tracks and communicates estimated arrival times for each truck. It’s a demanding job, but Ron makes it look easy.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Gills Freight drivers are where the rubber meets the road. They operate powerful machinery with unmatched safety and reliability. Different drivers operate different routes depending on the time of year, but in the spring they typically pull out of Bakersfield. That means the day starts at base at 3:30 in the morning.
The drivers arrive in Bakersfield at about 6 a.m. and load up. At minimum, one truck can transport 52,000 pounds of the world’s best onions. They fill out their paperwork – remember, that paper trail is super important – and hit the road again. Drivers usually arrive back at the Oxnard facility around 10 a.m. The day is just starting for many Gills Onions employees, but it’s a wrap for our drivers. They’ll check the almighty dispatch board to see what their next day of hauling looks like before heading home to get some rest.
But that’s a short haul.
Sometimes drivers have a long haul that requires stopping and sleeping overnight then continuing to drive the next day. During these trips, drivers can drive 250, 450, and even 520 miles a day. Over the course of a year, our freight drivers typically travel 100 to 150 thousand miles.
That’s why reliability and safe driving skills are essential qualities of a Gills Onions Freight driver. We’re lucky to have members of our team that have been with us for over 15 years and know their jobs like the back of their hand. Three of our drivers have even won Ryder’s Truck Driver of the Year.
Bringing Our Onions to You
The biggest challenge of working in Gills Freight is also the thing that our team enjoys the most: No day is ever the same as the last. Transport needs are always changing, and it keeps things interesting.
We couldn’t be prouder of our Gills Freight team. They keep us up and running and make sure that our onions get to where they need to be – and ultimately, to you.
So, the next time you open up a bag of Gills Onions, remember what it took to get those delicious vegetables into your hands, and send up a little thank you to drivers that made it possible.
Ready to try onions the Gills Way? For more information, contact our sales department.