We're the wheels underneath the one billion pounds of pork
“If the production team is the engine, we’re the wheels underneath the one billion pounds of pork we’re sending to market this year, and we’re not about to fail them,” said Chris, a member of the transportation dispatch team.
Every week 38 sow farms are weaning 231 loads of pigs, while at the same time 450 loads of market hogs are headed to the packer, not to mention the hundreds of internal movements of animals between nurseries and finishers.
“In this business we have wheels moving 24 hours a day, and this year we have hauled six days a week from early September and continue until sometime in April. It takes a tremendous effort on the part of many to make it happen, especially when we’re shooting for a billion pounds of pork this year,” said Chris, who is part of a four-member team accountable for dispatching the market drivers.
Chris—along with Toby, Tracy and Greg—are on the phone with drivers, farm managers and supervisors all day, working through the daily challenges that come with safely moving 70,000-plus hogs to market each week. “Weather is always the biggest challenge—especially in the winter—but holidays and disruptions at the plant are always major events because the movements have to be pulled forward or pushed back into days that were already full.”
“This is a team effort for sure, but the drivers are really the ones who have the hardest job, and at times we ask a lot of them,” said Chris. “They do a great job, and are, quite literally, the driving force of the transportation services team.”
Dispatch is just one piece of the entire transportation department. The finishing team relays what farms have pigs ready to transport to JBS or a light farm, the logistics team creates the schedule, Chris and his fellow team members designate the drivers and communicate the assignments, then the drivers, load crews and unload crew ultimately execute the deliveries.
A dispatcher with Iowa Select Farms since 2009, Chris laughs remembering his interview in a tiny office just off of the wash bay of one of the first sanitation facilities, where the aroma from the used bedding freshly cleaned out of the trailers serves as a reminder of how much and how fast the company has grown.
“When I started, I think we had 23 to 25 owner operators and we’re now up to 35, plus contracted transportation teams that run loads for us,” said Chris. “With 45 drivers and loads running six days a week, there is never a dull moment in dispatch.”
Chris has been in the transportation industry for the better half of his life, working at locations in Indianapolis, Arizona and Kansas City before settling in Des Moines. Since his start with Iowa Select Farms, he has been inspired by the work his team has accomplished and the immense growth of the company.
“We started off with one set of wash bays. Since then we’ve added more bays, drying facilities and a separate washing complex exclusively for market trucks,” said Chris. “I’m continually amazed at not only the growth we’ve had over the years but in the investments we’ve made to bring innovation and technology to make transportation more efficient, safe and biosecure.” #billionpounds