A desire to make a difference drove Alex Grafton to pursue a career in transportation and logistics. She liked the idea of helping both companies and consumers by ensuring products get where they need to go when they need to be there.
In 2016, after three years working as an assistant plant manager at a dry cleaning and laundry services facility, she transitioned to a new role: driver manager for CRST The Transportation Solution in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Grafton managed and coached more than 60 truck drivers for four years. She optimized routes, tracked freight, authorized payments, and served as a liaison between drivers and other departments to resolve requests and issues. She earned the trust and respect of the drivers she supervised, which improved their performance and increased retention.
“It has always been a priority for me to build good relationships with the drivers on my team,” Grafton said. “I do whatever I can to make it easier for them to do their jobs well. To this day, I keep in touch with a lot of the drivers I worked with at CRST.”
Grafton started looking for a remote position that would allow her to spend more time with her young children in 2020. While scrolling through employment website Indeed, she discovered that CPC Logistics was seeking a dispatcher for one of its customers, John Deere Shared Services, in Davenport, Iowa.
“Being from the Midwest, the thought of working with a company that has such deep roots here appealed to me,” Grafton said. “I thought a career with John Deere would offer me stability as well as opportunities for growth, so I decided to apply.”
Grafton began her new job in April 2021. She handled the daily planning, scheduling and dispatching of John Deere truck drivers, communicated with customers to make pickup appointments and deliver loads, sent billing requests to railyards and more.
“My favorite part of this position was facilitating communication with truck drivers to make sure they know their dispatchers are here to help them and that we are all on the same team,” Grafton said. “We can’t do our jobs without them, and they can’t do their jobs without us.”
Both CPC and John Deere took notice of Grafton’s success maximizing the efficiency of truck drivers and their equipment. In July of 2022, she was promoted to drayage supervisor.
“Alex brings an attention to detail that helps streamline work, and her communication with her team ensures she gives them the support they need,” said Matt Carr, CCLP, PCE, P. Log, vice president of operations for CPC. “Most importantly, she is dedicated to the growth of herself, her team and the entire John Deere operation. She takes the time to learn what she doesn’t know and understand how her current toolbox can create a critical contribution to everyone working with her.”
Grafton did not have a lot of experience with drayage when she started her current role, but she learned quickly. Now, she effectively oversees a network of dispatchers and manages relationships with customers across the country, from Iowa to Georgia to Tennessee and beyond. She also regularly meets with John Deere representatives to provide updates, discuss challenges, and make sure everyone on her team has what they need to keep things running smoothly.
“Going from dispatcher to drayage supervisor was a big transition for me,” Grafton said. “It’s incredibly fast-paced, and I expect things will get even busier as we continue growing John Deere’s private fleet. Since CPC partnered with John Deere, we’ve added more drivers and more trucks to continue meeting their transportation and logistics needs.”
According to Lance Burnett, U.S. fleet manager for CPC, John Deere has grown from five drivers in 2018 to 90 drivers in 2023, and he expects that number to continue increasing.
“Alex is an excellent employee for CPC,” Burnett said. “Her positive attitude and work ethic helps stabilize a division that is constantly evolving. Her leadership will be extremely important for the future growth of John Deere’s drayage operation as we continue to quickly expand in several areas.”
Grafton is looking forward to seeing where her career with CPC and John Deere takes her next.
“My goal is to continue to find ways to increase efficiency, streamline processes and keep costs low for John Deere,” Grafton said. “I also know that I still have a lot to learn, but I am in the right place to continue growing and progressing.”