“Anything to do with food, VersaCold knows how to handle all the goods.”
Our people here at VersaCold are the backbone of all that we do. So we’d like to introduce our new interview series that will continue to roll out in the months to come. These stories will feature different VersaCold employees across the cold supply chain and explore how their specific roles and personal dedication demonstrate their commitment to safety, quality and the freshness of the food families eat.
We recently sat down with Vera Penney to chat about her role at VersaCold and why it’s so important to her. Vera has been with VersaCold and Atlas Cold Storage (a company VersaCold acquired over 10 years ago) for a combined 13+ years. She’s taken on many roles at a number of Southern Ontario locations over the course of her cold chain career—from inventory control to customer service to workflow control and, most recently, as a shunter at our new Milton location.
Q: What made you decide to move to your most recent role?
VERA: I knew quite a bit already about supply chain logistics, but I decided to further my experience and knowledge and took a full year to go to college. In the last 3 months of my program, I went for my AZ license and got hired as a shunter. I’ve been driving ever since.
Q: What’s a typical day at your job?
VERA: My day starts here at 4 am and finishes at 4 pm, so it’s a 12-hour shift. I get in, get my walkie-talkie, and grab the keys to the truck. First, I do my safety check on the truck to make sure everything is operational. Dispatch tells me what needs to be put in and put out. I make sure all the reefer fuel in the trailer is full. I do yard checks and door checks, then I police the yard, reporting any problems or concerns. Oh, I also keep the yard clean. Since we’re a food company, our first impression should always be immaculate. I take a real pride and I’m very focused when it comes to the yard.
Q: How do you ensure the safety, quality and freshness of the foods families eat?
VERA: I am the last line of defence. When it comes to me pulling a trailer out of a bay, I am the last person to touch that trailer before the customer gets it. It’s so critically important that the reefer is running for the safety of consumers’ food products. If the temperature needs to be at -20°C, then I have to make sure it’s at -20°C. If it’s not, then we have a problem and I have to report it. I catch errors. If a temperature looks wrong, I question it. I work closely to make sure that the trailer is fit for the food inside.
Plus, I set the drumbeat for the warehouse. If the trailer isn’t ready, then the floor operators have to wait. I have to get the trailer in as soon as possible to keep the workflow moving. It takes about 10 minutes to get a trailer to the bay door. If I don’t get the trailer in, those guys are on the floor doing nothing. So I have to be quick and snappy in order to set the beat for the rest of the day.
Q: What does Your food matters mean to you?
VERA: It means that—even as a company that’s so busy—if only one case comes into this location, we take care of it for the public. No matter how big or small it is, we maintain proper temperatures and make sure no products get damaged or lost.
The cleanliness on the inside [of the warehouse] reflects our dedication to the families who eat this food. Especially pizza. Everybody loves their pizza. We have to make sure it gets out with the proper date codes and the proper temperature because quality matters. And families should have the best product, as if it was made just yesterday.
I’m proud that we stand for food. Your food matters is not just a new tagline—it’s a commitment. By saying this to the public, we’re holding ourselves accountable to it.