FOTB: Delivery driver keeps his cool; Christmas rush, new streets, inability of technology to keep up pose challenge
WILLISTON -- For UPS driver Zack Reyes, every second counts.
Delivering packages to a booming city with new addresses added daily is challenging any time of the year.
During the holiday season, the Williston UPS sees so much volume, it has to rent U-Haul and Budget moving trucks to handle the extra packages.
"We almost can't grow fast enough," Reyes said.
Reyes, a 30-year-old Tennessee native, has lived in Williston for about six months.
He didn't move to North Dakota for the oil boom. He moved for the weather. For real.
Reyes, who served in the U.S. Air Force Special Operations, suffered heat stroke in Iraq in 2006 and could no longer handle hot Southern weather.
"I just had to get up north," Reyes said.
Reyes worked for a UPS hub in Tennessee for three years, unloading and sorting packages to be sent to distribution centers.
Now as a delivery driver, everything from the brisk pace of his walk to how he holds his keys and closes the truck door is perfected to be efficient.
"We try to be as expeditious as possible," Reyes said.
One challenge UPS faces in Williston is keeping up with new addresses, especially new road names that aren't numbered, said Dan Brazil, who began managing UPS in Williston about two years ago.
"Google Maps can't keep up with the boom, either," said Brazil, a North Dakota State University graduate who worked for UPS in Fargo.
UPS delivered 81,000 packages in Williston in December 2011 and is on track to deliver 100,000 to 105,000 packages this December, Brazil said.
Last Thursday was expected to be the busiest day for delivery drivers, with 7,000 packages instead of a typical day of 5,500 packages, he said.
Williston UPS has doubled the size of its staff since a year ago, now offering $250 weekly bonuses to compete with oil field wages, Brazil said. The facility expanded three months ago and is already planning to expand again.
During the holidays, Reyes and other drivers have seasonal workers who help for a few hours a day to increase efficiency. Reyes drives and the helper brings packages to the door.
"It's silent and it's very, very fast," Reyes said.
Reyes said it's surprising how much personal interaction he can have in the 10 seconds it takes to deliver a package.
"I really do love my job," he said.