Anyone know anything about driving for food service distribution companies. They seem to pay fairly well. I know that you have a lot of unloading. SYGMA has a 4 day work week with some overnight trips to make deliveries. Does that mean deliver day one, overnight in the truck, drive home day two, load out and go again without any home time?
I havent seen any of these companies discussed here and I was wondering if anyone had any experience. I was going to talk to one of the drivers one day but he didnt look too happy or friendly so I passed.
Food Service Distribution (SYGMA)
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I just left SYGMA after 7 years with them. I was a transporation supervisor for 3 years, and a driver for 4 before that. I can tell you anything you need to know.
First off, whoever told you it was only a 4 day work week straight out lied to you. Espescially when you first start with them on the extra board. Even the 3 day routes will be 6 days due to the overnight nature of the routing. Most SYGMA centers do not work Saturday nights, so that's the only guaranteed night you would have off unless it was a holiday schedule. By the way, ALL trips are overnight-not some.
They will tell you you get 5 paid holidays a year. This doesn't mean you'll have them off. You just get 10 hours pay at whatever they deem the hourly rate to be for that center.
You WILL touch every piece on that truck by hand, place it on a handtruck (2 wheeler), and roll it in the store. You'll be carrying about 32k-42k pounds per night, which is about 1000-1600 pieces and between 1600-1800 cubes. If they could stuff any more on a 48' trailer, they would.
The routes are starting to become more layover types, which is single man. In other words, you'd depart on a Sunday night and deliver 6 stops-layover at a hotel-then deliver your next 6 stops. You may even have another route the same day you return.
The average SYGMA driver makes 45-55k a year, including quarterly bonuses. There is also a yearly safety bonus. Their parent company is SYSCO, so they share the same benefits package (401k, stock purchase, employee discounts).
Which center are you looking to go to? I have worked in FL (Orlando), GA (Newnan), and have trained supervisors in SoCal (Lancaster). I know plenty of scoop on all of them, though.
The four-day workweek comes straight out of their ad in the local newspaper. Is that the norm six stops per day? All their trucks running here have sleepers so I dont think a hotel is in the plan. So do you get home every other night or are you out for 5 days?
Is the pay hourly or something else? I have seen a couple of their trucks making deliveries and the guys are humping. I saw one young kid (early twenties) who ran the whole time including when the hand truck was loaded. The activity is not totally unappealing though I dont know about the running part. What is the average age of their drivers? Do they have many 40 or even 50 year olds?
I am looking at the San Antonio terminal if some other things dont work out by the end of the year. I would eventually like to move to another terminal though. That is the second reason I was looking at them. (home time first)
Thanks for the info.
Pay is "component" pay. You will be paid for the miles ran, and the weight you have on the truck. "Hourly" pay only comes into play for breakdowns, holidays, and for time over two hours at a backhaul. Hourly rate is 12-13 bucks. Backhauls are 20-30 bucks.
6 stops is the norm for the first or second leg of a layover. Average route, depending on the concept, can be from 6-15 stops. Wendy's gets 3 deliveries a week, and those trucks are 8-15 stops. The sit down style concepts get twice a week usually, and will have about 4-6 stops.
The sleeper trucks are for "team" driving. They do not allow you to stay in the sleeper for layover routes. All centers have daycabs for local and layovers. Although, the last truck orders we placed were switched from daycabs to sleepers because there wasn't much difference in cost. Like I stated before, you are expected to follow the law and be in the sleeper when you are logged as such-but don't expect to be in the sleeper when it's a team route when you are working stops.
Depending on the route, you may be away from home for a couple days. San Antonio, for instance, delivers to What A Burgers as far away as Central Florida. You may have to work two of those routes, which would wind up being pretty close to 5 days of actual time-not including any backhauls you may have to pick up. You will also be traveling at the company speed limit of 63 mph. To get home every night, you would have to be on a local route, and those usually run from late evening to early morning-so you'd be a day sleeper.
San Antonio is one of the better centers, along with Florida. Their management and supervisors are pretty good. Stay away from GA, Dallas, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Boston, and Oklahoma. Personally, Florida is the only center I would work for again. Their drivers are paid the best in the country when state taxes and bonuses are taken into account.
You're right about those deliveries. Those guys do hump it out. You are held very tightly to two standards: On Time Deliveries and Order Accuracy. These two categories are EVERYTHING to SYGMA. Your quarterly bonuses are based on them. 99.90% is expected, minimum. The On Time windows are fairly tight: usually 1 hour before or one hour after, and you can't be any earlier or later. The kid you saw running... well that's not necessary. A lot of guys do because they want to get home since you're not "on the clock". As long as you maintain a steady pace at a "quick" rate (170 cs. per hour is the norm) you'll be fine.
As far as 40 and 50 year olds-you'd be surprised. It's generally a younger man's job, but there are lots of guys in that age bracket. Average guy is probably late 20's and into the 30's. This job will keep you in shape-but you will need to take care of your body and use proper lifting techniques and not overload yourself. Can you retire as a driver? Let's just say I haven't seen many guys 60+. The bright side is there is room for advancement. All internal jobs are posted, and everyone has a shot. You'll at least get an interview for anything you apply for. Moving to another terminal isn't difficult, either. You can even "transfer" within the SYSCO family to keep your benefits.
SYGMA is a good company to work for, although it may not sound like it from me sometimes. It's a tough job as a driver, but the pay is pretty rewarding with bonuses. There's not too many companies that pay out a good bonus for hard work any more. Every center does it differently, but you have a chance to earn 5-10% of your quarterly pay in bonus if you top out. Safety bonuses accrue for every year without incident, and can get up there.
Another thing... even though the sleeper time on a team route isn't always utilized the way it should be...
SYGMA does follow the Hours of Service to a tee. You will NOT be expected to run over your 14 or 70. You will be expected to stop the truck and stay legal. Logs are all electronic (Cadec) and are monitored daily, and throughout the day. HOS violations, along with speed violations, are tracked by a points system. Every violation is 2 points. If you get 10 points within a 90 day period, it's termination. Progressive discipline leads up to that. In most cases, if you run out of hours and you're close enough to the center, they will send someone to drive the truck back or finish your route.
As I mentioned before about the sleeper berth... There may be a time that they use your sleeper time against you. If you have your 10 hours "off" in the sleeper, they may push you to run another route because you "have the hours" to run. I knew better, and would not push a guy to run unless he felt like he could. Not all supervisors are like that. Most are under a lot of stress when they are shorthanded and will try to "force" guys into working (usually so they don't have to run a route after working their 9 hour shift).
also not mentioned here is that most times i have seen either a sysco or sygma truck, it was pulling pups "doubles", so figure on setting them up/ breaking them down, resetting them up, breaking them down, etc,etc, and they are way too much fun to run empty in the snow too........!!
Thanks Bear Gator. Good thread for anyone thinking of going that route. Lots of info here.
What do they pay thier supervisors? I saw a posting from a competitor here in town for a supervisor position at 32K to 35K. Can't see them making less than the drivers.
Mind if I ask why you left?
They always seem to be hiring in the SA center. I guess that's the way it is with any trucking company now a days
SYGMA does not pull doubles at all. They use 46' and 48' trailers. SYSCO trailers are less than 40'. Those doubles you see pulled are brought to "domicile" locations where it makes more sense to have a small shop with a few drivers that live locally (away from the main SYSCO center). They shuttle loaded trailers to the drivers every day so they don't have to have another warehouse location. For instance, Orlando shuttles trailers to the Melbourne area where they have several drivers that live there.
The bottom end of the supervisor scale is about 44k, but has several bands that increase with performance evaluations on up to about 60k. I left making 52k a year before bonuses. Bonus potential is up to 20% of annual. Starting pay is usually determined by experience and location.
The next postion, Transportation Manager, starts at about 65k.
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