As packaged food and beverage manufacturer TreeHouse Foods [NYSE: THS] works to optimize its supply chain and realign business to adjust to changing consumer demand, addressing the needs of its drivers is a priority.
That focus on drivers and carrier partners earned the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company a place among FreightWaves’ top 25 “Shipper of Choice” winners. The award, conducted in partnership with Convoy, recognizes manufacturers, distributors and retailers that do the best job of fighting driver detention, providing accessible facilities and understanding what it takes to remove efficiencies from the supply chain.
Carrier-members of Truckload Carriers Association and the Blockchain in Transport Alliance voted on the nominees over several weeks earlier this year. The winners were announced at FreightWaves’ Transparency19 conference in Atlanta on May 8, 2019.
“We know drivers have a choice of where they go, and we want them to choose to come to a Treehouse location for the ease of doing business and the service they receive,” TreeHouse Foods senior director of logistics, Jill Truitt, told FreightWaves. “We want the carriers and their drivers to have the best experience from the time they are tendered the load until it delivers.”
TreeHouse Foods, which seeks to be a leading supplier of private-label food and beverage products, has over 40 manufacturing facilities in the United States, Canada and Italy that focus primarily on products for grocery and “food away from home” customers.
At these facilities, Truitt says, the company’s goal is to “turn” drivers as fast as possible to get them back on the road earning money.
“We understand driver productivity and reducing dwell [time] are of main importance to our drivers,” she said. “And when they do have to wait, we ensure drivers are treated with respect and kindness as well as have amenities such as clean restrooms, updated and stocked vending machines and coffee and water available to show them how much we respect and value them.”
While TreeHouse Foods doesn’t typically comment on freight costs, when asked to provide some insight during the company’s first quarter earnings discussion, CEO and President Steve Oakland noted, “our carriers are showing up on time, and they’ve obviously added equipment. They’ve been able to bring drivers to bear to do the things that we didn’t think anybody was going to be able to do,” as the company works through its “TreeHouse 2020” operational goals, he said. “The performance of our carrier partners lets us feel good about the plan.”
Truitt emphasized that the commitment to drivers is embedded in operations in a way that will allow TreeHouse Foods to remain focused on keeping carriers wanting to do business with the company for the long-term.
“Organizationally we have worked to link transportation and warehouse together so we can work to find solutions faster,” she said. “We utilize our [transportation management system] to communicate consistently with internal groups as well as our carrier partners. We seek out positive and negative feedback from carriers to continue to improve. We see our carriers as our partners to becoming the supply chain our customers can’t and won’t live without.”