The Customer Comes First Is His Motto

Andrew BeardenAndrew Bearden, who drives for Yellow Transportation in Tracy, Calif., is as adept at snagging new customers as he is at snagging a fly ball in center field. Bearden, a city driver by day and softball player by night, says he is always looking for opportunities to obtain new business.

"Whenever I go pick up freight, I try to get business away from Fed Ex," says this Yellow Driver of the Year. "I always talk to my customers and look at the freight they have sitting out to see where it's going. I'll tell them, ‘Yellow goes to that area. Why not let us take it?'"

And frequently, they do. That's how Bearden got the Hotan, Inc. account. Hotan manufactures blank CDs and DVDs.

"Andrew is very sales-oriented, and he works as a team with our account executive," says Tim Kroetch, Tracy general operations manager. "Andrew really contributed to the team effort for one of the area's biggest Red-50 wins."

Red-50 was a program Tracy instituted to compete with Fed Ex.

"We were to try to get a Fed Ex customer on board and get 50 shipments a month," says Kroetch. "Andrew got Hotan, securing more than 250 new shipments."

"That was a big one," Bearden laughs. "Sometimes we have as many as 150 pallets in one day."

Service With A Smile

Whenever he sees an opportunity for new business, he'll call the Tracy account executive and give him the lead. Not only does Bearden shine in getting new business, he takes good care of the business he already has, as evidenced by his having one of the lowest return rates in the service center.

"Andrew is very customer-oriented," Kroetch says. "I can't say enough good things about how he manages his route. His attention to detail is impeccable. He always goes above and beyond to make sure the customer's shipments are handled properly, that the equipment meets their needs and time requirements. He knows every one of his customers by name and what time they go to lunch or close up shop."

And Bearden plans his pick ups and deliveries to accommodate their schedules.

"I take pride in not bringing anything back," Bearden says. Bearden works in the Livermore vicinity, a busy, compact area.

"It's not a large area, distance-wise," he says, "but we're always busy. We pick up and deliver a lot of freight. I like it. I like hustling."

Bearden says he gets help from his colleagues and credits teamwork for much of his success.

"I work with a great bunch of guys," he says. "A couple of other guys work the same area, and we talk to each other and help each other out. And the guys in the shop are great, too. They keep my truck up to par and fix my tractor for me immediately."

Pleasing Bearden isn't that easy.

He Likes Equipment Clean

"He's a stickler about his tractor and trailer," says Kroetch.

"My pet peeve is shoddy equipment," Bearden says. "I'm always polishing it and working on it. When you go to a customer, you don't want to show up in dirty equipment. That's not the image we want to project. Customers don't want to see their stuff looking ratty and coming off a dirty trailer. The customer notices those things. And for me, the customer comes first."

Bearden, who's been married four years to his wife, Courtney, carries Windex and Armor All in his truck. A couple of times a week, he wipes everything down. "I clean my windows three times a day," he says.

He's a stickler about his personal appearance, too. He's neat, clean and he keeps himself in good physical condition.

"He's a poster child in that area," says Kroetch. "He represents the company well."

But Bearden doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. Not only does he play softball on a championship team that includes other Yellow employees, he also likes to hunt. But only birds, he says.

"I've been duck hunting since I was eight years old," he says. "I wait to take some of my vacation in December and I hunt all week."