Like Fine Wine

When truckers for Garrison Transportation Services Inc. of Salt Lake City arrive at a wine tasting festival, people gather to admire the pretty truck and to ask questions.

“We talk to wine lovers,” says trucker Jim Herd. “They ask all about the wine, where it’s delivered and where it’s from.”

Herd, of Boise, Idaho, has driven for Garrison for almost a year. He delivers to Nebraska and the Commonwealth area, which includes Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Stephen Brown started Garrison in 1988, and the majority of his customers run along I-80 from coast to coast. His drivers deliver imported and domestic wine and spirits. The wine and spirits are chilled at 50 degrees. They pick up on the East or West Coast and deliver to their hub in Salt Lake City. The deliveries are broken down and loaded on trucks to transport to certain areas.

Brown, who started trucking in Connecticut, tends to change the color of his trucks every three years. These days his 11 company trucks are either green or white, and he lets the drivers choose additional items to go on their trucks.

“Our trucks are not cookie-cutters,” he says.

Herd’s truck is a green 1998 Peterbilt with a green and blue reefer. He won several awards at the Great Salt Lake Truck Show, including People’s Choice. Brown says participating in the truck show was a fun day for his truckers.

“Truck shows are like Lagoon Day, an amusement park for drivers,” Brown says. “The guys take pride in their trucks. We’re distinguished from other companies because our drivers have nice trucks and help customize them. We add extras for them so they’ll feel the truck is theirs.”

Blaine Flanagan of Hermiston, Ore., has driven for Garrison for little over a year, but his ties with Brown go further back: He and Brown worked together as owner-operators in 1985 hauling produce and general commodities.

Flanagan delivers into Long Island, the Bronx and Staten Island, N.Y., as well as New Jersey. He says hauling wine and spirits is all in a day’s work, and his job is to deliver his load safely and on time. The company’s reputation is important and leads to additional loads.

“We get referrals by word-of-mouth,” Flanagan says. “We represent Garrison everywhere we go.”

K.C. Terpstra has been with Garrison for 1 1/2 years. His deliveries extend from Missouri and Ohio to Virginia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia on the East Coast. The Dutchman says he enjoys hauling imported wines, especially ones from his country, but knows his job is more than pleasure.

“We just load the wagon and go,” he says.

The Business Manual for Owner-Operators
Overdrive editors and ATBS present the industry’s best manual for prospective and committed owner-operators. You’ll find exceptional depth on many issues in the 2021 edition of Partners in Business.
Download
Partners in Business Issue Cover