11/17/08 — Mt. Olive Pickle Co. to eliminate its truck fleet

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Mt. Olive Pickle Co. to eliminate its truck fleet

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 17, 2008 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mt. Olive Pickle Co. officials have said that the company's decision to eliminate its private truck fleet does not reflect any weakness in its overall operating results.

The company's finances remain strong, the officials said, but the trucks are not cost effective, and its 10 drivers were recently notified that the fleet will be eliminated effective Feb. 27.

The decision, which marks the end of an era for the company, is one of economics, company officials said. The viability of Mt. Olive Pickle's fleet has long been dependent on backhaul arrangements for glass containers.

But consolidation of the company's glass suppliers and the proximity of prime backhaul locations to the plant led to the fleet's demise. The company's 10 trucks currently deliver about 15 percent of the finished goods that are shipped out of the company's distribution center on Old Mount Olive Highway just north of the plant.

Commercial carriers already deliver "a good bit" of the company's products and some of the company's customers pick up their own orders, too. It's expected that commercial carriers will pick up most of what the company trucks delivered.

"We simply run our trucks too many empty miles between finished goods delivery and backhaul loading," said company President Bill Bryan.

The company began exploring its options a year ago to see if it could improve the economics of running its own private fleet.

"We have been unable to find a satisfactory solution that is consistent with our business strategy, and one that is fair to our drivers," Bryan said.

Mt. Olive's private fleet stretches back to 1939, when then-plant manager Harry Kraft purchased the company's first delivery truck. The truck was emblazoned with the words "Eat Mt. Olive Pickles, They're Better."

Over the years Mt. Olive's distinctive bright green trucks continued to advertise the company on highways up and down the Eastern Seaboard.

"Our drivers have represented us well on the public highways and at our customers' warehouses," Bryan said. "They have carried themselves, and our company name, with good humor, dependability and a strong sense of pride."

Mt. Olive Pickle is offering a severance package to drivers who remain employed with the company through the end of February. It is also offering assistance to drivers in helping locate jobs elsewhere.

"We reach this decision with regret, because of the impact on our drivers and their families and because we are ending a rich heritage here at Mt. Olive Pickle Company," Bryan said.

Established in 1926, Mt. Olive Pickle Company manufactures the second best-selling brand of pickles in the country. The company's manufacturing and distribution operations are based in its hometown of Mount Olive.