After leaving the Royal Air Force, having served for ten years, David Palfrey moved to Devon in 1981 and began his career in the logistics industry.
As a regular recipient of glowing feedback for his attitude and quality of service, there was no better candidate to feature as April’s Driver of the Month.
We wanted to get to know David more and asked him why he loves his job in logistics.
Did your career in the Royal Air Force help prepare you for working in logistics?
“In the RAF I was a Movements Controller, so I was responsible for getting resources where they were needed, all around the world. That could be troops, machinery, or even aircraft and so that was a logistics role in the first place.
“I travelled the world whilst serving, being based in places like Brize Norton and the Indian Ocean, and then spending two years in Northern Ireland, for which I earned a General Service medal.
“The discipline, planning, and logistical knowledge that I gained during my time in that role has definitely helped me with my career in logistics, which is now 41 years long!”
What does a normal day look like for you as a driver with Pall-Ex South West?
“I start work at 7AM every day and I have no idea what my workload will be for that day, and I regularly make anywhere between 12 and 20 drops.
“Travelling around the region usually equates to around three hours of my day, and the deliveries and collections of course take time too.
“I try to plan my route as efficiently as possible, so I save time on the road and make sure deliveries are made on time. I enjoy being out on the road, but things can be a bit stressful when there are diversions and road closures that affect your route, but that’s when you have to use your experience to find a way around.”
What are the things you dislike about the role?
“Something that does occasionally present challenges is when freight arrives late on the night trunk, and timed deliveries can’t be met. In addition to that, wrong addresses and incorrect pallet weights are always frustrating because they mean the planning that has been done often has to change.
“As I mentioned before, diversions and road closure also make life hard sometimes but that’s just a part of the job.”
What do you enjoy most about your role?
“I get a lot of satisfaction from making deliveries on time and to the right location – Making sure the freight arrives with the customer when they expect it is what this job is all about.
“For me logistics is all about the people! Communicating well with the team is what makes the operation run smoothly and I am fortunate that the team at Pall-Ex South West all share one common goal.
“Every member of staff, from Forklift drivers to the mechanics and night operations staff all work in unison to ensure the freight is where it needs to be when it needs to be there.”
What surprises people most when you make deliveries to them?
“A lot of people are surprised that their goods are with them so soon, as often the freight is delivered on a next-day service and it just highlights how efficient our network can be.
“I think many are also surprised by the fact that there is just the one person making their delivery, as they often expect two people to move pallets that can weigh hundreds of kilos.
Thankfully the equipment we use, including the electric pallet trucks we have make this a safe process.
“Whether I am delivering to schools, private residences or businesses, I do what I can to call ahead to make sure the customer is ok to take delivery, which is something most people are not used to from other delivery companies.”
How have you seen your job change since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic?
“The workload has increased since the start of the Covid crisis, that’s for sure. The demand for deliveries has increased and it makes the job tougher.
“As I have mentioned, I plan my route every day, but that has become more challenging with the increased workload and a rise in the number of specific timed deliveries we are now seeing come through the network.
“Being busier is a good sign though, because it means business is good, especially when many businesses have been hit hard by the global situation. I am fortunate to work for a company and in an industry that has seen demand for its services increase massively since the onset of Covid-19.”
Finally, what advice would you give to someone looking to enter the logistics industry today?
“I would definitely recommend getting into logistics. Whether you are driving, based in the office, there are so many roles available, and the career is rewarding.
“When you come across a challenge, take it on with a positive attitude and an open mind to find a solution, because you need to be able to make quick decisions and rely on your initiative in logistics.
"Finally, make sure you are always polite and do what you can to help others because that makes such a difference to customers. Just that extra please or thank you can really make someone’s day and it costs nothing at all!”
This advice is clearly something that David applies to his own work, having received positive feedback on numerous occasions.
Customers have often expressed their thanks and wanted the team at Pall-Ex South West to know that he is a “credit to the company” and that it has been “rare to have such good service”.
For this reason, he is very well deserving of being Pall-Ex’s Featured Driver of the Month for April.