Fueling Growth: How Transportation Ride-Alongs Cultivate Industry Expertise and Connections

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As a wholesale lumber supplier, AIFP sources high-quality lumber and steel products from mills and suppliers across the US, Canada, and Europe, sells those building materials to clients, and arranges delivery to job sites and retail businesses across the country. Because we take care of transportation, distribution, and logistics, it’s important that our traders and admin team have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of steel and lumber delivery. In today’s blog, we discuss what rookie trader Jael Stein and our carrier representative Brandy McLain learned on their ride-along with TR Oliver Trucking Inc., one of our trusted transportation partners.

Ride-Alongs Show What a Typical Day Looks Like for a Trucker

While the team is familiar with federal transportation laws that govern driver’s workdays, including their maximum workday and travel limits, the ride-along gave Jael and Brandy a whole new look at these restrictions. Whether it’s leaving at four in the morning to avoid commuter traffic in Portland and Seattle, the importance of clear and accurate paperwork, or how much it can slow you down to arrive at the same time as another load, the AIFP team learned more about the many different ways steel and lumber deliveries can be delayed. While drivers aren’t in total control of how quickly loading and unloading happens, for example, there are things they can do to expedite the process. Different mills also have different reputations for speed and efficiency, and while drivers tend to have this information, it isn’t always reflected in their daily assignments, which they only receive at 4pm the day before.

Ride-Alongs Highlight the Importance of Different Processes

One of the biggest takeaways from the transportation ride-along was the importance of accuracy. We can’t necessarily control traffic or what mills are open when, but the AIFP team can take extra steps to ensure the accuracy of all of the information and paperwork they send to the drivers and the carriers. Not only will this prevent timely bottlenecks that could affect steel and lumber delivery times, but it also makes AIFP a more enticing company for truckers and carriers to work with. The more they trust our process, the more likely they are to want to work with us, because they’ll be able to make more money in a given day.

Ride-Alongs Give Team Members More Appreciation for Truck Drivers

Because traders and carrier reps do most of their work behind the scenes, ride-alongs can help them gain appreciation for the truck drivers who make their sales possible. Not only will our team members be more likely to respect trucks when driving on the road, but there’s a real face to the tasks they’re assigning out, making them even more inclined to do everything they can to make their job easier and more efficient. And the more efficient the truckers are able to be, the more money they make and the more time they get to spend with their families.

Ride-Alongs Build Trust with Our Transportation Partners

At AIFP, it’s our goal to work with the best, most-efficient truckers, and these ride-alongs offer an opportunity for the truckers to put a face to the AIFP name so we can build better business relationships. That way, they’re even more connected to the work that we do, and are more likely to seek out loads with us in the future. Ride-alongs also give our transportation partners a chance to pass along helpful insights and to have those insights acknowledged. If a specific mill frequently doesn’t have enough staff to accommodate a quick load and unload, for example, this information could impact delivery timelines.

Whether you’re looking to pick up a load, buy lumber in bulk, find an admin or trading career at one of the best places to work in Portland, or just looking to better understand the building materials industry, AIFP can help. Check out our blog to learn more about everything from the benefits of working with a wholesale lumber supplier and how AIFP traders can help your business to what you’ll learn during the AIFP trader training program and what you need to know about dimensional lumber.

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