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A Conversation with Butterball’s Dan DiGrazio

Our National Account Manger Ada Brewster chatted with Dan DiGrazio, Sr. Director of Logistics at Butterball and we wanted to share her conversation with him with you.

As our country faces great crisis, Dan DiGrazio, Sr. Director of Logistics at Butterball, has found inspiration and has been humbled by the trucking industry. Not only are truck drivers getting in their trucks and carrying on in order to keep the supply of food and essentials, while everyone else hunkered down, but it also is happening at a time when rates have spiraled downward while owners of these companies, many of whom are facing financial challenges they may not recover from, are still doing everything they can to keep America going.

This is not the first economic downturn that DiGrazio has seen. He joined the logistics world after graduating from Penn State. It was at Penn State where Dan was intrigued by both a friend who worked in supply chain and a professor who had great enthusiasm for logistics and supply chain. Realizing that he would be graduating at a time when the country was in a recession he was happy to find that there were still job openings in Supply Chain, and his career began working in the steel industry managing shipments on flat beds, rail and specialized freight, where he spent 12 years. From there he went on to broaden his craft in brokerage and LTL (less-than-truckload) before entering the food service world with Ocean Spray in 1991.

Now with over 35 years in the industry, the biggest changes to the industry DiGrazio has seen have been as result of the governments interaction. First with deregulation, which completely changed the pricing structure offering discounts for LTL shipments and a price war that forced 20 of the 30 largest companies out of business, followed by about 400,000 new owner operator companies coming into the business. Then the hours of service ruling completely changed the playing field for everyone from truckers to shippers.

DiGrazio said that business is tough right now, there are a lot of companies calling and telling him they will haul a load for a fraction of what his carrier base is charging.  “You have to ask yourself, if one of these carriers, who is struggling to survive, has a Butterball load on their truck and has a breakdown, do they have the money to get necessary repairs, and if they lose a load, will it be at Butterball’s expense?”

When looking at 3PLs (third-party logistical services), DiGrazio is cautious when not having a long standing relationship with them and knowing or not knowing if they are financially secure with a huge risk being that they may never pay the actual carrier who hauled the load.

“The risk in dealing with these companies who want to undercut prices just is not worth it,” DiGrazio said. “Plus, the tables will eventually turn, we are not asking our carriers to decrease their rates right now, and we will have loyalty from them when things are in their favor. Our team at Butterball pride ourselves in long standing relationships with our carrier base, we want to see them grow and be successful, and they take care of us. We believe we have true partnerships with our carriers. Partnerships are built on service, communication, response, reliability and pricing.”

The why behind what DiGrazio does is simply put in three points: give God the glory, feed and serve others, and serve as a mentor for those who work for him and with him.

DiGrazio has enjoyed working from home the past couple of months, he has found extra time for reading, and refocused on the important things – God, family and friends. He and his wife, Cathy, have made a point to stay in contact with those they love and have tackled several home improvement projects. The couple also made an unexpected trip to Maryland in order to be with their son and his family after the loss of a family member. The bright spot was some special time with their four-year-old granddaughter.

“I’m a man, working from my home office, and I feel tremendous gratitude for the many men and women who are leaving home to do a thankless job.”

Ada Brewster can be reached at ada@kottke-trucking.com and by phone at 320-510-0033. This is Ada’s second piece in our conversation series. Ada talked with Kottke Trucking driver’s Laurie and Buz Scutt last week and you can read that article here.

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Kottke Trucking, Inc.