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The Best People

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A foundation of success starts with the right personnel.

by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Fleet Owner, January 2016

Since its founding in 1968, Southern Wine & Spirits of America Inc. has expanded through both internal growth and acquisition of established wholesalers. It is now the country’s largest wine and spirits distributor, operating in 35 states and serving a 6,000-mi. reach that extends from Miami to Anchorage, from Maine to Maui.

Southern represents some 1,500 beverage suppliers from around the world, distributes over 5,000 individual brands, and delivers more than 100 million cases annually to over 180,000 different customers across the country—all made possible by a team of more than 14,500 employees.

The company’s outbound distribution is served entirely by its private fleet, which consists of 1,800 Class 7 straight trucks, 300 Class 8 tractors, and 1,800 employee drivers.

Nationally recognized by both supplier partners and customers for its state-of-the-art distribution capabilities and leading-edge technology, the company is the leader in the wine and spirits distribution business in the United States. This leadership position has been significantly enhanced by the services performed by the company’s successful private fleet.

“Our delivery process is the most productive and at the lowest cost,” says Larry Sullivan, vice president of fleet, safety & compliance. “We are blessed with a team of long-term drivers with very low annual turnover who see our customers as often as any other Southern Wine employee,” he adds.  Drivers make their runs from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.  and typically make over 20 stops a day, averaging 18 cases delivered at each stop.

Sullivan notes that quality drivers are a key factor in being able to consistently provide often specialized and varied service to customers as well as to serve the peak demand season from October through December when 30% of the company business is done. “Driver professionalism and adaptability to individual customer requirements—year in and year out—help make our company successful,” he says.

Building the private fleet to its current state of excellence has been in the works under Sullivan’s leadership since 2008. Prior to that time, the private fleet was run by an outside consultant.

Sullivan’s background is in computer technology. He worked  for AT&T, Apple, and IBM before joining Southern Wine’s Information Technology Group and assuming management of the private fleet.

“Trucks are a lot like computers,” says Sullivan.  “Spec’ing of equipment, lifecycle costing, maintenance, optimized utilization, operator training, trade cycles, etc., are common practices in both fields. There is a strategic process to each of these components.”

Sullivan established a strategic plan of action that focused on a standardized process for all aspects of the private fleet.  This process took years and was done in stages. “First, we gave attention to equipment spec’ing, taking into account different applications, terrain, weather, and the like. Next came maintenance, fuel management, registration and titling, telematics, and so forth,” he explains.

Out of this process evolved a system of management practices that places a premium on safety, productivity, driver comfort, and cost savings aided by a network of long-term partnerships with outside suppliers. “Achieving a national best practices standard while maintaining local focus is a great business model for our fleet and the company overall,” says Sullivan.

“As the company continues to grow, quality people continue to be a hallmark of our success,” he continues. “The key to our growth is that we always have the best people.”

Gold Standard

At its founding and from the time of its charter class graduation in 1993, the National Private Truck Council’s Certified Transportation Professional (CTP ®) program’s guiding vision was to create a widely recognized and respected   . . .  read more . . .

Be Remarkable

Founded in 1921, Coborn’s Inc. started as a produce market in Sauk Rapids, MN, and has grown to 52 grocery stores in five upper Midwest states under a family of brand names including Coborn’s, Cash Wise, Marketplace Foods, and Save-a-Lot stores. In addition, the company provides a home-delivery operation with $36 million   . . .  read more . . .

Prime Grade Fleet

Part of a privately held family business of integrated companies started in 1946, American Foods Group provides highly dependable on-time delivery of the freshest beef to foodservice, retail, and international markets. The company ranks as the fifth largest beef producer in America, shipping over 4 million lbs. daily.   . . .  read more . . .

A Higher Calling

As disciples of Jesus Christ, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints strive to follow the biblical admonition to feed the hungry. Welfare services—helping members in need with basic life necessities—became a cornerstone of the Church’s mission at its founding . . .  read more . . .

Safety by the numbers (August)

The opening general session of this year’s National Safety Conference will highlight a report on a year-long study that just ended. Titled The Efficacy of Active Safety Technologies and Policies within Private Fleets, the report was sponsored by NPTC and conducted by the . . .  read more . . .

Superior fleet solutions (July)

Three years ago, the privately owned company formerly known as Hickory Springs Manufacturing changed its name to HSM and began a dynamic transformation of corporate rebranding and reinvigoration. A new CEO with dynamic and visionary leadership came on board, organized a new ...   read more . . .

Sustainable Solutions (June)

UNIFI Manufacturing in Greensboro, NC, is a leading producer of multi-filament POY, textured and staple polyester, nylon-textured yarns, recycled PET chip, and premier value-added yarns. Since 2007, UNIFI has become a global leader in offering transparent and certifiable    read more . . .

Better Ingredients (May)

Last year, Papa John’s Pizza celebrated its 30th anniversary and was recognized as # 1 in customer satisfaction among national brand pizza companies. The company’s enormous success remains driven by read more . . .

“Best Drivers in America” (April)

By reputation within the industry, working as a truck driver for Walmart’s private fleet has always been viewed as one of the best jobs to have – a company with outstanding pay and benefits, an industry-leading read more . . .

Biggest and Best (March)

This year’s NPTC Annual Conference scheduled for April 26-28 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza and Duke Energy Convention Center is on track to be the largest, best-attended, and greatest read more . . .

Productivity Boost (February)

The National Private Truck Council has joined the Steering Committee of the Coalition for Transportation Productivity (CTP), a group of shippers, motor carriers and their associations seeking to increase truck weight limits.      read more . . .

Premier Safety Culture (January)

Founded nearly 20 years ago, Sentinel Transportation is a national model of exceptionally high safety management standards and operational practices.  The company’s 750 employees, including 650 drivers and 400 tractors, operate out of 40 terminals. Sentinel provides specialized         read more . . .

Higher Education (December)

Leading private fleet management practitioners and supplier partners will gather in Jacksonville, FL, January 17-21, 2015, for the Private Fleet Management Institute (PFMI) in what promises to be the best program in the event’s two decade-long history. Since the event has a         read more . . .

Raising the Safety Bar (November)

Praxair Inc., which traces its roots to 1907 when it became the first company in North America to commercialize cryogenically separated oxygen, is the largest industrial gas supplier in North and South America and one of the largest worldwide. Its products include           read more . . .

A Star Behind the Wheel (October)

In conjunction with its annual National Safety Conference, NPTC is pleased to recognize a unique group of some of the nation’s top private fleet drivers.  They are recognized as such by being selected as an NPTC National Driver All-Star.  The program, which is now     read more . . .

Setting The Standard (September)

Started by C. L. George over 90 years ago in a modest country store outside of Springdale, AR, George’s Inc. began as a one-truck operation hauling live poultry to major cities in the Midwest. Today, the fourth-generation, privately held company has grown into a highly successful producer of read more . . .

Safety Summit (August)

The annual NPTC National Safety Conference, scheduled for September 11-12, will again be held near the Washington Dulles International Airport at the Dulles Hyatt Hotel. Check out NPTC’s home page at www.nptc.org for details about hotel reservations and conference registration.

Designed to optimize return  read more . . .

Their Own Fleet (July)

Mid South Baking Co., headquartered in Bryan, TX, operates a successful regional commercial bakery, producing and delivering an enormous number of fresh quality products each day to thousands of customer locations and distribution centers throughout read more . . .

A Winner – Again (June)

Attendees at  NPTC’s 2014 Annual Conference felt that this was perhaps the best overall event in the Council’s history.

“This was a great show and more spectacular than ever. Everyone seemed pleased,”  commented an attendee.

“All the speakers were  phenomenal and the food was incredible,” said another.  “A great job of creating natural…opportunities for vendors and fleets to interact.”   read more . . .