Industry Spotlight: Gerri McLamb, Director of Transportation, Performance Foodservice – Virginia
Gerri McLamb never says no to an opportunity.
This native of Chesapeake, Virginia credits “luck and good timing” for her decades-long career in foodservice distribution.
It all started with a casual conversation. She’d left college, was working at a Food Lion, and chatting with a delivery guy from Pepsi who spoke so passionately about his job that he convinced her: getting a CDL was her path to making a good living.
Six months later, CDL in hand, she had an over-the-road job.
But Gerri quickly learned that the long haul life wasn’t for her and moved back to her hometown, where she took a series of odd driving jobs before another right place, right time moment struck. In fact, she credits her open mindedness and willingness to try new things for the vast array of employers, experiences, and positions that have come her way over the course of her career. Since stepping foot into the transportation industry, she’s worked in the routing department, worked in safety, and started supervising nearly 20 years ago—each opportunity moving her one step closer to her current job, Director of Transportation at Performance Foodservice-Virginia in Richmond.
In an industry that is focused on increasing women in its ranks, Gerri notes that in her experience, “no one has ever shied away from giving me opportunities because I’m a woman.” She feels passionately that more women should join foodservice distribution. “Every interaction I’ve had has been positive. No one tells you what you can and can’t do. More young women looking for job security and a good work environment should join this field.”
Her advice to drivers: take a chance, no matter how out of left field it sounds. “If you want it, you can try it and learn it—you can do it.” The foodservice distribution industry has taken her all over to the country. She helped deploy the troops after 9/11. She’s helped bring relief to people in hurricanes and supplied food for firefighters battling wildfires out west. “Our industry pitches in when other people are hunkering down.” Last year’s pandemic posed its own challenges and survival was “a matter of how fast you could switch gears. What we did for a living changed from Friday to Monday, it happened so fast.” She’s proud that PFG was able to weather the stormby finding new partnerships to keep the food supply chain strong, including deliveries to grocery stores. “PFG thought and acted creatively to keep our associates working.”
For anyone considering getting a CDL, Gerri has this to say: “The return on investment on truck driving school is high—and isn’t advertised enough. Not many jobs out of the gate consistently pay anywhere from $70-90k, and without being saddled with decades of student loan debt. I stumbled into this career, but others should intentionally seek it out.”
“You can do anything in this industry if you don’t pigeonhole yourself,” she says with pride.
“Gerri has made many valuable contributions to Performance Food Group and our Performance Foodservice division,” said Robbie Horton, President, Performance Foodservice – Virginia. “Her openness to opportunities is well aligned with the approach we take in driving our business forward. Gerri’s dedication to and enthusiasm for her team, her customers and the work we do is a wonderful example for all our leaders and those aspiring to leadership roles too.”