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Gary Petty
Private Fleet Editor,
    Fleet Owner Magazine
President & CEO, NPTC

September 2020

A Very Close-Knit Group

A culture of professionals who share and learn together

Troy Kays, CTP, OHST and CDS, joined Papa John’s as a transportation manager in 2013. His wide range of management experience and training has prepared him well for the leadership position he holds. Papa John’s has undergone a major cultural transformation in recent years and has seen a resurgence in its positive brand image and popularity.

His engagement with NPTC began in 2015. He attended the Private Fleet Management Institute and graduated with his Certified Trans-portation Professional (CTP) credential in 2016, and his continuous engagement with NPTC has been a beneficial influence on his leadership growth and career. Kays has had two promotions since becoming a CTP and is now the senior manager of transportation safety and compliance.

One of America’s top branded pizza companies, Louis-ville-based Papa John’s has more than 5,300 stores served by 11 quality control centers located across the United States. These stores operate at various sites such as business centers, malls, sports arenas, and university campuses. Fresh pizza dough is manufactured at each quality control center and delivered twice a week to each store along with sauce, pepperoni, and a total of 190 separate SKUs that range from pizza boxes to pepperoni. In-house transportation is a key component of Papa John’s success.

With a reputation for trusted delivery service, quality, and fresh food, the company has done especially well in the COVID-19 era. In fact, business is booming. “Papadias,” which is half pizza/half sandwich, was introduced on the menu and has been a huge success. The company’s safety precautions and “no contact” home delivery guarantees have brought about a tremendous surge in repeat business for millions forced to stay home for days and weeks due to COVID-19 lockdowns.

Company safety protocols require that every pizza be placed in a sealed box, untouched by human hands, and presented by delivery drivers wearing gloves and face masks. After the pizza box is placed at the doorstep, the driver stands six feet away and awaits the customer’s inspection and approval.

To meet high-volume demand, 14,000 new delivery drivers have already been hired with the goal of bringing on a total of 20,000 in 2020. Nearly 50 new CDL-A drivers have been brought on as well. The company’s private fleet, brought back to service several years ago because of service failures of out-side third-party logistics companies, continues to prove its value and has grown significantly. The fleet today consists of nearly 500 drivers with Class CDL-A drivers, operating mostly in teams, with more than 200 tractors, 300 trailers, and 15 box trucks.

While in high school, Kays worked after hours for United Parcel Service while also operating his own lawn care company, which he had started at age 12. After college, Troy worked for Coca-Cola as a CDL driver running intrastate routes. At age 22, he was appointed to the position of route supervisor and learned from older colleagues the importance of humility in succeeding as a leader. He was later promoted to service manager.

Kays’ next move was to join a start-up company, MainServe Install, based in Greenville, S.C., which installed water filtration systems for fast-food chains. He later became a partner and general manager before selling the company. Kays moved back to Louisville and worked for Martin-Brower for three years as transportation manager, and then Reinhart Foods in the same role for nearly three years. Papa John’s was Kays’ first direct experience with private
fleet management.

“My involvement with NPTC has broad-ened my horizon and understanding of the full spectrum of trucking. It was my first experience in understanding the holistic side of trucking and the critical role a private fleet can play in corporate success. The Private Fleet Manage ment Institute (PFMI) and CTP experiences made that happen for me,” Kays said.

Going through PFMI was his introduction to NPTC’s unique culture. “Starting from day one of the Institute, the team I was part of became a very close-knit group,” Kays said, reflecting on his time in Jacksonville. “It was an eye-opener, and I thoroughly embraced it. Right away, we developed a sense of professional connection and friendship that continues to this day.”

Since earning his CTP, Kays has attended the NPTC Annual Conference and National Safety Conference, serving more than a half-dozen times as speaker in breakout sessions or as mod-erator at breakfast roundtable discussions. This year, Kays was elected to a seat on the NPTC Board of Directors as chair of the NPTC Conference Planning Committee.

“Papa John’s is fully committed to NPTC and plans to get even more engaged in the years ahead,” Kays said. “It’s my honor and privilege to be part of such a great organization.”

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