Even with masks, closed windows and plenty of distance, Centerline Drivers was able to thank a special group of truckers.
Every January, Centerline and Coastal Pacific Food Distributors in Stockton, Calif. – the second-largest military distributor of food and related products in the world -- host a post-holiday holiday party for the hard-working drivers who deliver food and commissary items to military bases across the West Coast. This year was no exception, except it looked a little different.
The post-holiday celebrations are usually large parties attended by drivers and their families and thrown by the two companies to thank them for their hard work throughout the year. Most years, the in-person celebration involves a large convention center, tons of catering and prizes for drivers. With COVID-19, only the prize part stuck around.
“We have to do the celebrations in January because the grocery business is very busy in the fourth quarter,” said John Trahan, director of operations at Centerline. “So we do this at a quiet time, just in time to catch up and get ready for the Super Bowl and Easter. This year, with COVID-19, we couldn’t meet in our normal environment so we set up a drive-thru event for our drivers.”
Centerline Account Manager Robert Perez and Coastal Pacific Transportation Manager Val Cabanig set up stages for drivers and their families to drive through in their cars and enjoy the event. The guests started at the raffle ticket station, where each person received a raffle ticket – including kids – to win great prizes and continued around the warehouse, passing banners and signs of appreciation and thanks.
“We focused mainly on thanking them and emphasizing that they’re the heart of the operation and nothing could happen or be done without them,” Perez said. “All the drivers were greatly appreciative that we didn’t go without doing something for them.”
At the back of the warehouse, they stopped in front of a truck adorned with pictures of each driver, thanking them for their hard work in a challenging year.
There they found Perez and Coastal Pacific COO Tim Tveitnes ready to call raffle tickets and hand out prizes. They handed out almost 20 prizes, including a big screen TV, video games, video game systems and coolers.
The drivers enjoyed being able to hang out – at a distance – with their fellow drivers and families. It lent a sense of normalcy to a difficult year. And to top it off, all of the attendees – 23 drivers and their families totaling more than 75 people – received DIY pizza kits to continue the celebration at home.
“What a wonderful event that Centerline and our Driver Management team put on for our Drivers,” Tveitnes said. “In these trying times it is great to see that we take the time to honor and appreciate these men and women that continue to keep the supply chain moving. We are very fortunate to have the drivers that we do and this is a testament to the efforts Centerline has made to ensure we have the best people possible.”