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Produce Hauling Q&A
Taking the bull by the horns

Randy Gunderman

Question: I contracted to haul a load of produce through a broker, and negotiated and agreed upon a rate. I had a signed rate confirmation to that effect. 

I got to the shipper and was told the destination had been changed, adding not only 300 miles to the destination but another stop as well. The broker had re-faxed the original agreement to my home, and my wife quickly contacted me to point out that the broker had crossed out the original destination, inserted the new one and added the stop. 

I called the broker and told her this was unacceptable and that I was already booked for a load when I got to the original destination. I refused to pull the load because the broker altered the rate agreement/contract. I was threatened with being “blackballed” and charged for damages. Did I do the right thing?

Answer: If you were here, I’d shake your hand. Too many carriers allow themselves to get pushed around by marginal brokers like this one. Too many carriers see a potential problem and look the other way, hoping it will be OK or go away altogether. 

If more truckers took the bull by the horns like you and your wife did in this situation, there would be fewer brokers (and shippers too) trying to get trucks to work for free, threatening carriers with trumped-up claims if they don’t roll over and play dead, and, in general, acting like complete you-know-whats. 

If more carriers stood up for their rights when hauling produce, less of this type of thing would happen. Like I always say: “It doesn’t get any fresher laying on the shipper’s dock.” Good job.

Question: You mentioned pulp temperatures in your last article. Did you know that USDA puts out charts on these and other produce-related things?

Answer: I have received quite a few calls and e-mails on this subject. What I was referring to in my last article was taking pulp temperatures at the shipping point and throughout transit to protect you. What many of you were referring to were charts and books stating what ideal pulp temps are during transport. 

Yes, I am aware of USDA’s publications on temperatures, as I was aware of most of the others your calls and e-mails mentioned. My company, GAIN LLC, is now offering a service called Produce Transport Support Service. We give advice and information about produce loads, discuss potential problems and provide a book to each member. The book has a great amount of information regarding the hauling of produce. My wife, Susan, and I have worked very hard to put it together. Call us if you would like more information.

Question: Have you ever heard of onions being hauled on flatbed trailers?

Answer: Yes, I have. I have heard of LTL loads being hauled short distances, such as Oklahoma City to Dallas, on a standard flat by securing the pallets of onions and rolling. Much more commonly I have heard of flatbeds with sides hauling full loads or bulk onions. Many times, these onions were covered with a tarp to keep the weather out on flats with sides for a longer trip. Onions are a hearty commodity, so I didn’t hear of too many claims when they were transported this way. 

On those occasions when I did hear about claims, it was usually because of things getting too hot under the tarp and the load being rejected. Onions “sweat” when exposed to improper temps and are often rejected for this reason. Decay and sprouting can also occur. So, if you’re hauling onions on a flat, sides or not, be cognizant of the fact that damage from the elements is always possible.

Question: You always tell us to check the credit of truck brokers. I know you worked for Red Book for a million years, but are they the only credit service you would recommend for carriers to find out about truck brokers?

Answer: No, not at all. In fact, when it comes to credit rating services to be used by produce carriers, I would recommend the Produce Reporter Co., or Blue Book, out of Carol Stream, IL. As far as credit rating services that rate all transportation brokers, I would recommend RTS Credit Services in Lenexa, KS. I have seen their service, operation and staff, and they are good. I even work part-time as an agent.

Editor’s note: Randy Gunderman is the president of GAIN LLC. You can reach him at (913) 262- 1574, or e-mail him