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There are 1,500 of them in service, and about 80 percent are on the road at any given time, many carrying toilet paper, food and the other essentials that grocery stores have to restock onto their shellves night after night.
They are trucks with the cobalt blue paint jobs and the red letters that proclaim they are part of the fleet of Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT).
What started in 1981 as a small trucking firm based in Las Cruces that specialized in refrigerated cargo delivery has since grown into a major player in the United States trucking industry, and since day one, Royal Jones has been at the helm.
Jones said moving products safely and on time is the company’s mantra, and he said that since China’s freight shipments to the United States fell off in late February, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the company has been “working at 120 percent” to keep stores stocked along every route the company services.
As a key player in the supply chain, Jones has a different perspective than most about what’s happening in the United States relative to essential goods.
“We don’t believe that hoarding has much to do with the shortages you see in stores, he said. “At first, people were hoarding toilet paper, but [now] the stores aren’t allowing this. I would say the biggest reason for the runs on the grocery stores is that most people eat out nowadays and don’t keep a lot of food inventory at home.”
He said the pandemic has forced some operational changes for the company as it works to keep the supply chain on track.
“We have installed hand sanitizers in all locations at every spot possible,” he said “We have also let people in the corporate office work from home and have about half of them coming in and half working from home. Especially those with small kids with no place to go.”
Jones said he’s heartened by stories he hears from his drivers about kindnesses they see on the road.
“We’ve had drivers who have witnessed people buying them lunch at drive throughs since their trucks wont’ fit, in and most [establishments] won’t let you walk through the drive up windows,” he said “Many have just expressed a big thanks to our drivers for working to keep all of us in food and necessities.”
One of MVT’s biggest contracted customer’s Jones said, is Walmart.
“We’re delivering to the local WalMart stores more than ever ,but ,as you see, people are lined up to get it, so by end of day, people don’t realize that it gets restocked each night,” he said “We haven’t had to go out of route to do this, and our rates are contracted, [so] we haven’t been price gouging. The rates are set for a year.”
Jones said the pandemic has created challenges for MVT, but the foundation of the company remains strong.
“We’re proud to serve the Mesilla Valley and El Paso areas for the last 38 years,” he said.