Wallis Companies driver cooperation delivers success
Jul 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Mary Davis
Because drivers are willing and able, the operation at Wallis Companies in Cuba, Missouri, moves smoothly — come rain, sleet, or snow, says Jason Wallis, supply and transport director, Wallis Companies.
That kind of driver cooperation is what has enabled the company to thrive, adds Wallis.
Wallis Companies distributes petroleum products under the major brand names of Mobil, Conoco, BP, and Phillips 66 to Wallis-owned convenience stores and more than 150 fuel dealers located throughout eastern, central, and southern Missouri, says Randy Stewart, transportation director.
The company is a wholesale distributor of distillates and industrial and commercial lubricants to the public, industry, government, schools, hospitals, and farmers. In addition, Wallis operates Great River Wash, a car wash distributorship that provides services, equipment, and supplies to car wash operators. Wallis also operates the Hen House family restaurant in Bourbon, Missouri.
But despite its varied and large operations, the company prides itself on its personal touch and family-like atmosphere that encourages employee interaction, says Stewart.
Wallis gives credit not only to the drivers, but to all employees for the success of the business established by his father and mother, Bill and Lynn, in 1968. That first year the couple handled 200,000 gallons of fuel with one tractor/tank trailer unit and one bulk truck.
After the death of Bill Wallis in 2001, the family continued to build upon the company's success. Today, Lynn Wallis serves as president and chief executive officer. Her daughter Rachel Andreasson, is vice-president, organizational services. Two other sons, Chad, general manager of the company's car wash division, and Adam, director of wholesale, complete the family lineup.
Since its inception, the company has grown at a steady pace with business generated by long-time customers. A Route 66 service station in Cuba was part of the original acquisition and was operated for several years until it was restored to its original 1930s design and leased for other commercial purposes. In the beginning the company's service stations were in rural areas. By 1993, Wallis Oil had acquired the Mobil assets in St Louis — and still owns and operates most of them today.
“We've really tried to stay in our niche to have petroleum products,” says Wallis. “This allows us to maintain our service to customers.”
As the company has expanded, the leadership in the transport group has developed a program that they believe contributes to employee cooperation. Many of the employees observe their colleagues' duties as part of their training so that they can understand the challenges each face. Drivers spend time in the dispatch office and are given opportunities to transfer to office positions when they become available. All current dispatchers were formerly drivers, Wallis notes.
“Many of our office employees will ride with our drivers to experience the routine,” says Stewart. “That's no matter what the driver's schedule is. Sometimes it may mean starting out at 3 am. We also discovered something we weren't expecting when employees began telling us that their driving skills in their private vehicles have improved as a result of their observations in the truck.”
Driver applicants must be at least 25 years old. “We look at drivers that have a lot of driving experience, but not necessarily in tanks,” says Stewart. “We would rather hire drivers who have a lot of experience with trucks, and we will train them to haul fuel.”
Training under the direction of Jessica Christiansen, environmental compliance manager, includes company policies, Department of Transportation regulations, and hazardous materials handling. Trainees are familiarized with rural two-lane highways and small-town deliveries. “They learn to watch for that deer in the road,” says Wallis.
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