Earlier this week, I sat down and chatted with Washington Rock’s dispatcher, Rick, who joined our team just a few months ago. A basketball player in high school, Rick went on to play college ball while earning a bachelor’s degree in business management at St. Martin’s University.
Rick has carried on his love of basketball as head coach of the White River High School basketball team. In addition to coaching and spending time with his family, Rick loves to fish.
As dispatcher, Rick fulfills delivery orders by calling local trucking companies and arranging transportation. Trucks then pick up materials from the pit or quarry and deliver them to customers throughout the Puget Sound. It was fascinating to learn some industry tips from this quiet 6’ 3” point and shooting guard who made the leap from basketball to dispatch.
What led you to this industry?
Out of college I had some interviews for different jobs. I thought I might be interested in the insurance business, but I worked in construction in high school and had some knowledge and experience in the industry. That led me to settling into the transportation industry in 1995.
Early in my career I was doing a lot of work in the pits, but I found that I enjoyed working as a right-hand man to the owner. At my first job out of college, I was working on a project, and my team managed to multiply the trucks we had by more than three times. Before joining the team here at Washington Rock, I worked as the general manager at Harlow Construction doing dispatch, sales, hiring, and just about anything in between.
People often seem surprised that you manage to stay calm and relaxed even though dispatch can be very stressful. How do you keep a calm, positive attitude at work?
A lot of it I attribute back to experience. After about 23 years of working in the industry, I’ve gotten used to things going wrong and going right. I learned a long time ago that I can’t take things personally in this job. Being goal oriented, I expect 100% delivery from everyone every day. I find myself being more disappointed when we don’t meet goals than with the little frustrations that arise from day to day.
How has trucking changed since you first started?
It used to be that truckers would come to work and work until the work was done. There seems to be a larger emphasis on families now, which is good, but there are also a lot more distractions.
What wisdom would you pass on to truck drivers?
For drivers already in the industry or those just starting, it is important to keep in mind that things are always changing. Drivers change and climate changes, but traffic is always terrible.
What makes a good dispatcher?
Good temperament. You need to know how to push things and makes things work. Especially during the busy times, it can be hard to keep everyone happy—in fact, it’s impossible. Dispatchers need to work out a system, keep everyone going on an even keel, and stay organized. However, sometimes being organized is easier said than done.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to end up in your shoes 20 years from now?
Dispatch can sometimes be a thankless job, but at the end of the day you can step back and look at the things you helped build and the problems that you helped solve. It’s important to be a problem solver, and you need to like talking to people. Time management is huge! I have learned that when I pay attention to people, it makes them feel important; they get things done, and there are a lot less mistakes.
For more information about Washington Rock’s delivery services, our Delivery Services page.