UNFI Grows Truck Driver Pipeline

In-house paid training program helps associates advance careers
Dillon Farmer, a graduate of UNFI’s Warehouse to Wheels Program
Dillon Farmer, a graduate of UNFI’s Warehouse to Wheels program, started with the company as a loader at UNFI’s Hudson Valley, N.Y., distribution center in 2018.

United Natural Foods Inc.’s Warehouse to Wheels program has grown by more than 300% over the past two years and is now available to associates at a majority of UNFI’s 56 distribution centers, according to the distributor. Originally rolled out at a single UNFI distribution center in response to a driver shortage, the program is currently offered to eligible distribution center associates who wish to get the training necessary to receive a Class A CDL license while employed by UNFI. Associates who complete the 12-week program become full-time UNFI truck drivers with assigned routes and opportunities to earn higher wages and annual safe-driving bonuses. 

A key priority of  UNFI’s Fuel the Future strategy is to create career opportunities for associates. Warehouse to Wheels supports front-line associates by eliminating financial barriers or time constraints so they can advance their careers, making it easier for them to gain the skills and certifications they need to become fully licensed truck drivers. For UNFI, the program bolsters its open driver recruitment efforts while helping to create a pipeline of qualified drivers. Warehouse to Wheels is expected to help fill about 10%-15% of UNFI’s annual truck driver needs.

“In many ways, drivers are the face of our company, and we rely on them every day to deliver the widest variety of products to over 30,000 customer locations,” noted UNFI Chief Supply Chain Officer Mark Bushway. “Today, more than ever, traditional career paths are being challenged, and the Warehouse to Wheels program offers associates a unique opportunity for career growth while creating stability for our operations and within our supply chain.”

According to the Washington, D.C.-based American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry lacks about 78,000 drivers and based on current driver demographic trends, as well as projected growth in freight demand, this shortage could rise to more than 160,000 over the next decade.

Providence, R.I.-based UNFI delivers a wide variety of products to customer locations throughout North America, including natural product superstores, independent retailers, conventional supermarket chains, e-commerce retailers and foodservice customers. The largest publicly traded grocery distributor in America, the company is No. 49 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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