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A Lot to Be Thankful For

By on July 1, 2017

To Moon & Back 10 Times

Starting with Meijer grocery stores at age 18, Paul Strodtbeck decided to trade in his meat-cutting knives after 10 years for the keys to one of the chain’s delivery trucks. Upon graduating from truck driving school and acquiring his CDL in 1972, he joined a team of 34 drivers who made daily deliveries to 24 stores from the Grand Rapids, Michigan headquarters. Today, Paul is one of 350 drivers who deliver merchandise to 230 stores across the retailer’s six-state footprint. Quite fittingly, his CB handle is Cutter.

Gas cost 36 cents per gallon back then, and Paul drank “two gallons too much of coffee,” while listening to “twangy” country music. Much has changed in the past 45 years, but one thing has remained constant: The Walker, MI resident never imagined he’d drive more than five million miles, primarily making daily meat and produce runs from Grand Rapids to Lansing, Petoskey and back.

MTA Recognition

The driving milestones—combined with his exemplary safety record, work ethic and friendly demeanor with customers and other team members—recently earned Paul recognition as one of the top 12 drivers by the Michigan Trucking Association. The statewide trade organization recognizes one driver a month each year.

“I certainly didn’t go into driving with anything like that in mind,” he said. “I appreciate the recognition, but it’s my job. I enjoy driving. I grew up knowing that anything is possible, and if you try hard enough, you can do anything.”

Paul said he’s seen a lot during the past 45 years and five million miles, and has stopped numerous times in all sorts of weather to help car and truck drivers in distress. Based on his experience, he’s recognized as a mentor among the retailer’s drivers, and regularly tests and shares his perspectives on new truck models.

A Wonderful Ride

Looking back, Paul says he has a lot to be thankful for: He loves driving for Meijer, appreciates his dispatch team that helps him along his route, and enjoys working for a company that cares about the customer and employee communities. And when he’s not driving a Meijer truck, he’s snowmobile riding, enjoying the outdoors with family, and working in his snowmobile repair shop.

“I have six kids, and I tell them all the time, ‘you only have one life,’” Paul said. “‘You’re here for a reason, and you should probably have fun doing something you enjoy while you’re here.’”

“It’s an honor and inspiration for our organization to have someone like Paul,” said David Hoover, Director of Outbound Logistics for Meijer. “His dedication, expertise and service, not to mention the equivalent of safely driving to the moon and back 10 times, is a great accomplishment and puts him in an elite group of professional drivers.”

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