To encourage safe and efficient operation of its material handling equipment, Dot Foods holds an annual “Forklift Rodeo Grand Nationals” competition. At this year’s, held on June 23rd, three Dot Foods warehouse employees won a free vacation after earning top scores maneuvering through an obstacle course on a sit-down forklift, a mule (pallet jack) and a narrow-aisle reach truck.
As part of the competition, thirty competitors from Dot’s eight distribution centers carried a trash can with a basketball balanced on it through a timed obstacle course, with penalties for safety infractions or contact with the course boundaries. This year’s competition was held on the dry dock and the contestants had the choice of taking a longer path with fewer hazards or a shorter route with a greater risk of penalties. Dot further emphasized safety with the addition of two stop-and-honk intersections built into the course.
Josh Hall and Nick Blayney, both from the Burley, Idaho, warehouse, took home first place wins on the forklift and narrow-aisle, respectively. Hall edged out Noah Sheckler from Illinois by 1.4 seconds. Aaron Walker, representing the Illinois frozen warehouse, won first place on the pallet jack by 7.2 seconds. The top three scorers in the pallet jack and forklift categories had clean runs with no penalties. The Idaho warehouse accumulated the best overall score to earn bragging rights as the all-around DC champion.
“The contestants did a great job of focusing on safety first, then speed,” said Rocky Vecera, assistant warehouse manager of Dot’s Indiana distribution center. “This was evident in the low number of infractions issued due to not stopping and honking. Overall, the event was a huge success and it was great to see 30 order selectors from across the country come together over a two-day period to network and to form lasting relationships.”
Each year, Dot Foods holds Warehouse Appreciation Week at each of its distribution centers across the country. As part of the week, employees compete in qualifying rounds of the Forklift Rodeo, and the top winner on each piece of equipment earns an all-expenses-paid trip to Mt. Sterling for the Grand Nationals.