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Indy beer delivery company crafting Hoosiers to fill driver gap

Hiring Hoosiers
Posted: 7:44 AM, Oct 23, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-23 07:44:39-04

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INDIANAPOLIS — If open roads, beer, and being home every night are things you would like associated with your job, this could be the right opportunity for you.

Monarch Beverage is an Indianapolis-based beer delivery company working to fill the talent gap in truck drivers by crafting Hoosiers to fill the driver shortage.

"You ready to start driving," asks Colleen Gipson, a new truck driver at Monarch Beverage. "All right, let's do it. The more I do it, the more I am like, I know what I am doing."

It is all in a day's work, logging mile after mile on Indiana roads.

"It's pretty much like driving my normal vehicle," Gipson said.

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Gipson made a big career change, from the chalkboard in the classroom to behind the wheel of a big rig, delivering beer.

"I get to do something different and I get to be out there with people and I am not stuck on a truck for 12 hours a day and all of that," says Gipson. "And I get to interact with customers and it is a lot of fun."

The working new mother started at Monarch Beverage three years ago working in the warehouse, until a few months ago when she wanted to stay at the company but step out of the building.

"I had a kid and decided that the hours were better on this side, pay was better," Gipson said. "Just all in all a different experience."

Gipson had no truck driving experience until she climbed into a Monarch Beverage truck. The company has a driver-in-training program where they provide the tools and resources necessary for beer delivery drivers to get their CDL to start their career as a driver for free, also while getting paid.

"We create safe drivers, confident drivers, and drivers that are going to be comfortable in tough situations," Jordan Fuller, the route driver trainer at Monarch Beverage, said.

Fuller has been with the company since 2013 and he works one-on-one with drivers going through the roughly 20-day program.

"Here it is about 40 hours worth of drive time and we get to actually put our drivers through real-life scenarios, going, we pick up from the local breweries, Sun King, Triton, Dare Devil, Oak and Barrel all over, and that puts our drivers in real life situations," Fuller said. "If for instance, they are struggling on their cone work, we can focus more on their cone work for a day rather than worrying about their drive. Or if need be, if they are falling behind on their pre-trip, we can sit there and take our time and focus on that."

LEARN MORE | Careers with Monarch Beverage Company

The training is done within regular work days and drivers start at $22 an hour before picking up speed with the company.

On an average day at Monarch Beverage between the 155 drivers they make 1,200 stops a day, delivering 1,200 kegs of beer, 1,900 different packages of beer, and 65,000 cases. Scheduling at the company allows for each driver to be home every night.

Monarch Beverage has been in Indianapolis since 1947, and now employs about 600 people. The company distributes to retail outlets and big venues.

On top of getting big discounts on beer, there are other perks to the job.

"We have a medical clinic that is downstairs with a medical doctor in addition to an assistant and a nurse practitioner as well," Lloyd Brown, the organizational development manager at Monarch Beverage, said. "And those three take care of all our needs and they see anyone inside the company or family who needs medical attention. Also there is I believe 140 different prescription drugs that we can get for free in terms of generic versions, also we have two fitness centers, one that has got more of the weight room sort of a feel with more of the treadmills and things like that. We have a crossfit gym out there with a Peleton, Peleton bikes in addition to weights and all the other things you would see at a typical gym."

Gipson's work days will now include anywhere from seven to 20 stops delivering beer across the state from as far north as Fort Wayne to as far south as Evansville. The job also requires some muscle for the cargo.

"You get used to it, working out and just making sure that you lift properly, you make sure you work smarter, not harder," Gipson said. "Making sure you are letting your equipment do most of the work. Not trying to muscle everything is a lot better than you know, just trying to lift kegs and use your lift gate and go up and down. Where some of the guys will try to muscle it, you just got to know your limits too."

She is crafting her career with each mile at Monarch Beverage. And when Gipson is told that being a truck driver is a man's job, she simply replies that she can do it too.

"Being a female in this industry is actually very different, because they try to pretend, or they try to act like you can't do things for yourself," Gipson said. "And it is nice whenever you can prove yourself and show that 'I am capable of doing my job and that's why I signed up to do it.'"

Interested drivers will need to apply with Monarch Beverage and take a labor test to make sure this is the right fit before getting hired on and starting the driver-in-training program. Drivers will need to commit to working at the company for at least one year.