Openfield is investing heavily in its transport fleet and driver recruitment to improve grain and input deliveries at a time when heavy haulage is under immense pressure.
Over the past year the farmer-owned grain marketing and arable inputs co-operative has grown its HGV fleet rapidly and is now gearing up to expand further, by hiring and training its next generation of drivers.
Over the last year Openfield has quietly grown its own fleet by around 40% and now plans to double the original fleet size over the coming months. In doing so the co-op believes it will further improve grain collections and input deliveries to farmer members and grain deliveries to consumer customers who manufacture some of the best know British food and drink brands.
But finding drivers isn’t easy and recently, the team has been looking at how to expand its driver workforce, says head of HR Gaynor Hannen. “We have been looking at ways to encourage more drivers into the industry. It is an expensive process to take an HGV test and most hauliers only take drivers on if they already have an HGV licence.
In response, we have developed our own ‘Feet to Fleet’ Programme. This offers the opportunity for anyone with a clean driving licence -and a great attitude and approach- to join us and then train to become an HGV driver.”
Openfield will take trainee drivers into the programme full-time, paying for training and all driving related tests. The starting salary is £21,000 per year with an immediate start, based at Colsterworth in Lincolnshire.
The training takes about 16 weeks to complete and at the end of it, subject to passing medical and driving tests, the trainee will be promoted to a qualified HGV C+E driver working at Openfield.
Recruiting and training more drivers will continue to boost Openfield’s reputation for service, says head of operations Simon Briscoe.
“Our drivers are a key point of contact and represent Openfield’s brand every day. Excellent service is critical to us so flexibility, initiative and a customer-focused approach are key to delivering our exacting standards of efficient and effective service. Full training and support will be provided to every driver around the bulk haulage operation and in all other aspects of the job role.”