Getting my start in beer

longhaullounger longer uses Truckingboards.
I've spent about a month working for a beer distributor as a helper.

They've got me on a program to get my CDL. I already got my permit and did a little driving. I have driven the rig back to the warehouse from our last stop a few times, and I did some backing practice at the warehouse the other day.

There's a lot of turnover in this industry, but most of the route drivers at my workplace have been doing this for a while. Some of them told me I started in the right time of year (summer), because if I could make it through the peak season while I was a total newbie, then the off-season would be a breeze.

I'm mostly looking forward to the off-season giving me a little more breathing room to learn other aspects of the job. This month has been so heavy that I haven't had time to do a lot of driving or learning things like the handheld. Most drivers memorize our product code numbers that print on our invoices so they can check-in their deliveries faster with the store clerks. That part will take some time to memorize.

Long-term, my goal is to build some driving time and possibly get into a linehaul or city P&D job years down the road, once my body starts telling me it can't handle two-wheeling cases of beer every day.

Did anyone else here get their start in the beverage business? I'd love to hear how it went for you and where you are now.
I did it almost exactly the same way 12 years ago.went to foodservice for more money and personally foodservice was easier for me. but now I’m on easier street and am a linehaul driver. the reason being the foodservice companies want younger newer drivers so they can pay them less. at least in my recent experience Down south.where there are no unions in Mississippi at least in my long story short get your experience and look for better work. that’s my opinion, and good luck!!
I humped groceries for US Foods now I work for UPS Freight. We're hiring at most locations all you need is class A with doubles tanker and hazmat
I started out working 11 years for Canada Dry. The best thing is get some experience and GET OUT, I was 32 when I made the switch to LTL body said that's enough.
Also if there union and you do decide to stay at least wait till your vested. I started collecting a pension from Canada Dry at 41, only good thing about that job.
I'm getting my start with beer too this weekend....


Then maybe a few of these....
Got my CDL and ran my first fill-in route a couple weeks into it, before my real license even had time to get to my mailbox (just had the temporary paper copy in my pocket).

The route went ok. Had a couple of places where I wasn't great at parking because I had never driven this route before. I was a little slow, 420ish cases delivered across a 125ish-mile run in 11 hours. But then, I've only been on that route as a helper. It's a lot faster with two men than with one.

The good things: I didn't hit anything and a couple of customers bragged that I actually took time to pull up and face our products in their coolers. "My regular driver doesn't do that," they said. Also, I didn't have any broken product that was my fault, just a case or two I found leaking on the truck. (Thanks, warehouse!)

The worst error I made was with my handheld. Easily remedied at check-in once I got back to the warehouse, though.

I'll probably fill in for that same driver tomorrow. We'll see if I can still be the first truck back on Monday, since he usually is. Probably not -- it's not a race, and I'm not treating it like one.

Things have slowed down considerably since my start in the summer. A day of 700-800 cases is pretty big now, where 1,000-1,100 was not uncommon in the summer. So, pretty good time to be breaking myself in as a fill-in driver I guess.
I didn't end up filling in or that driver last week, but I learned I'll definitely do a fill-in/relief route this week. We're working Christmas Eve kind of like two days in one, since Christmas is in the middle of the work week. So I'm running basically a Monday route while the driver who would normally run that route does most of his Tuesday stops that would have otherwise been missed because of the holiday.

This route is in the city, lots of traffic after 6:30-7 a.m. and much tighter quarters than the route I did a couple weeks ago. I'll have to be extra careful planning how I'm gonna get out of places before I get into them, and paying attention to where my trailer is while turning in and out of those places.

I've run that route as a helper once or twice, so it's not totally foreign to me, but I'm still a little nervous. I know a couple of places where it's real easy to curb the trailer tandems or hang the trailer on a pole or gas pump on that route.

The driver told me he figures I'll have it whipped by 10:30 or 11 in the morning, so basically 5 or 6 hours, tops. I told him, "That may be how quick YOU get it done, but I bet I'm a lot slower than you."

He just grinned and said, "Yeah, but you're younger than me."
Welcome to beer-hauling: The city route I was supposed to run ended up going to another fill-in driver because I ended up filling in for a sick driver on a long route out of town. I had a little over two hours in just drive time, about 13 hours total time. It was my first time with a 48-foot trailer. Plenty of tight spots, but I somehow avoided hitting anything.

That same week I did a second day with a 48-foot trailer on a different (also very rural) route. Dead battery on the truck stranded me early in the day for a couple of hours. Even though the case count wasn't bad, it was another 13-hour day.

I've earned two paychecks since getting my license and corresponding pay raise. That's making it all worthwhile. But I gotta admit, I'll probably like it better if/when I get my own route and truck. At least then I'd know where I'm going every day.
I'm a little over a year into this beer life.

I'm still not running a route of my own. I'm still a fill-in driver. It's been months since I had to fill in for anyone. Management has me doing mostly merchandising three days a week. That's my "route," if you will. I drive a van to grocery stores and put the beer into the coolers after a driver delivers it. That's not why I came to this job, but it still pays the same rate as driving -- and with less responsibilities/danger than a driver typically has, I'm not complaining much.

A friend of mine works for US Foods and informed me there's a driver opportunity local to me. Pay is probably better than I'm earning now, but the work wouldn't really be any less physical on the route. They have a listing on the jobs site for shuttle driver. Now, if I could get into that and earn a decent pay increase along the way, I'd definitely apply. But for a delivery job, unless they're gonna pay me a ton more than I make now, I'm not really interested in starting over and losing my vacation time, not to mention the company match from my 401(k).
I got out of the beer life last summer and went to hauling linehaul on a team truck for a FedEx contractor. I had to live on the truck for a while, but then convinced the contractor to let me stay home every night because I live in the middle of the route.

Easiest money I've ever earned, in a lot of respects, even though there was a learning curve to setting up and breaking doubles -- something I got my endorsement for literally a few weeks before I got the job. I'm still not totally used to my schedule, which requires me to get up at 12:30 a.m. and drive until about 1:30 p.m. every day. I go to bed at 4:30 every afternoon and hope I can fall asleep fast and stay that way, but it seldom goes like that.

The contractor is constantly calling in favors and has high turnover. I'm without a full-time co-driver and have missed a week of work already in the first month of this year because they lacked sufficient fill-in drivers to guarantee me a driver.

I interviewed with a union LTL carrier this week who says they have a spot for me if I can get my tanker and hazmat endorsements. I'd be commuting about 2 hours one-way, but I'd be earning a lot more money for shorter work days and wouldn't be paying anything for health insurance for me or my family, so I'd not only gross a lot more on each check, but also see a lot more net income in my bank account each week. I go get fingerprinted in a couple days.

What a ride these last couple of years have been.
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