What goes into the making of the world’s largest fruit display? We found out this summer when we created a display that featured over 10,000 watermelons. It took four semi truckloads to transport all 157,000 pounds of the fruit to the Cub Foods® store in Maple Grove, MN, where the display was constructed. Images of the watermelon display have been sent to Guinness World Records in England for validation, but we can say with confidence that being part of the event was one of the highlights of our summer. In addition to the record-breaking display, people from all over the Twin Cities came together to participate in watermelon eating and seed spitting contests and to sample the fruit and snow cones.
But before the festivities could begin, there was plenty of work to do. Putting together a record-breaking event like this requires a lot of meticulous planning. Working in the produce and logistics industry, we naturally focus our attention on the delivery of the 225 bins of watermelons we needed to create the display. Cannon Transportation—and, most importantly, driver Tom—delivered a load of watermelons to the store. Tom’s job didn’t end when he pulled into the lot. Instead, when he realized the bins were loaded sideways, he worked with us to find an efficient way to unload them. We could tell he took pride in his job and his company, and that left a big impression on us. So much, that we wanted to connect with Tom and learn about his experience as a driver and what he thought about being part of the world’s largest fruit display.
Robinson Fresh: How long have you been a driver?
Tom: Twenty years, and I have driven for three companies.
Robinson Fresh: Why did you want to be a driver?
Tom: I’ve wanted to be a driver since I was 10. My dad was a driver, so he inspired me.
Robinson Fresh: What is the most rewarding part about driving a truck?
Tom: Seeing all of the neat sites throughout the country and being able to help people on the road who are in need.
Robinson Fresh: What is the most challenging part about being a driver?
Tom: The most challenging part is managing the distance between vehicles in front of me. Many people think we can stop on a dime, and we can’t! Our trailers are heavy, and we need that distance to stop the rig in time.
Robinson Fresh: Do you typically haul produce?
Tom: Yes, produce is the primary commodity I transport.
Robinson Fresh: What is unique about hauling produce?
Tom: You always have to be aware of the trailer and product temperature—every item is different. And you have to know which products you can transport together and those that have to ride separately. The weather can also impact the temperature of your load—especially in the Midwest and Northeast in the winter!
Robinson Fresh: Did you know you were going to be part of the world’s largest fruit display?
Tom: I did not know about the event until I arrived on site. I was coming from Missouri, and my main concern was making my delivery appointment. As a driver, that is always top of mind.
Robinson Fresh: What did you think when you realized you were part of it?
Tom: It was different; I have never been a part of something that was going to be part of the Guinness World Records. After knowing that, I knew it was critical to get the watermelons unloaded timely and perfectly.
Robinson Fresh: I noticed the bins of watermelons were sideways on the pallets. It was challenging to get them out. You went to the hardware store to get a hook for your strap to unload the bins. I thought that was above and beyond service. Do you always going above and beyond for your customers?
Tom: The bins were intentionally sideways to stabilize the load. I have had to do this a couple times before for customers. To answer your question, I try and help the receiver anyway way I can. I am the middle person and represent my company, so I do my best to facilitate a smooth delivery. Everyone should help when needed—we all need a hand every now and again.
Robinson Fresh: One final note, any advice to up and coming drivers out there?
Tom: Take advice from the experienced drivers and make sure you learn something every day.
Our half hour chat with Tom taught us a lot about what a driver goes through when transporting freight. Whether the delivery is for an event like the world’s largest fruit display or to fulfill a grocery store’s order, it could not be done without the driver. Have you delivered goods to a unique event or been involved in another way? If so, please share your experience in the comment section.
Disclaimer: This blog originally ran September 10, 2014 on The Road.