“My truck is my office and I have the best view every day.” That is the response recently provided by Tyrone J., a Legacy Supply Chain truck driver, when asked what he likes about his job. An unexpected (but not unique) answer given the current supply chain crisis and worker burnout. There is a passion that pulses through the industry and drives both the employees and the packages.
It is no secret that the supply chain industry is under immense pressure right now, a secondary fallout to the pandemic. Computer chip shortages, lack of universal protocol for both the virus and the vaccine, and a sharp increase in demand have created an impossible situation for the fulfillment industry.
Add to that a lack of reliable childcare, rising costs and mandatory quarantines for sick employees and the situation is even more dire. Job descriptions seem to change daily as new federal and state guidelines are released, and drivers find themselves faced with new health and safety requirements that are often more difficult to navigate than a busy holiday delivery route during a snowstorm.
Frontline workers have been the focus for the past two years. This term conjures up a variety of images, and until now truck drivers were probably not one of the first that came to mind. Drivers have been overlooked and overworked, not to mention in high demand throughout this pandemic – among the unsung heroes of the ongoing economic and supply chain crisis who lately getting some due.
If supply chains came to a grinding halt, as some extremists warned, it would devastate the world. Our dependency on deliveries extends far past daily consumerism. With such a transient ecosystem our food, electronics, vehicle parts, building supplies, medicine, and more are dependent on transportation. Drivers are responsible for the safe and timely delivery of just about everything.
With a desire to learn more about the people behind the deliveries, we ventured into the field to talk with our drivers. The goal was to hear firsthand why they chose this line of work, what new challenges they are facing, what additional stress COVID has presented and why they continue to enjoy driving. The responses that we received were overwhelmingly positive and truly tell a story of the people who deliver our goods day in and day out.
We spoke with individuals who had been driving from two to 15 years. The most common reasons we heard for getting into driving revolved around a desire to be on the road and see the world. “I get paid to tour the city,” said Marcus B. who has been a Legacy driver for seven years. David R., a four-year veteran, said “I love driving. It is my passion.” Chris E., who has been driving for two years, said he enjoys the freedom of being on the road. There is a strong sense of camaraderie within the driving community of those drawn to the road who enjoy the sense of flexibility and control. Choosing to drive is not random, but rather a well thought out profession and lifestyle.
Shockingly, the majority of drivers we spoke with did not feel a major interruption or sense of stress even through all the recent changes and increased demand brought on by the pandemic and the supply chain crisis. Many felt that this further secured their job. The biggest concerns felt by most drivers were the loss of relationships with both customers and coworkers due to social distancing, the difficulty of finding a safe public restroom or place to eat during the height of the pandemic while out on the road, and the increased traffic as the world began to reopen.
The past two years have been unlike any other for the transportation industry, and the future is unknown as the supply chain crisis is expected to extend into 2023. There needs to be an awareness of the resources and dedication to keeping deliveries flowing seamlessly. Without the people behind the package, there is no delivery.
Mike Glodziak is President and CEO of Legacy Supply Chain Services