Wreaths Across America receives no government funding to support operations. Motivated and dedicated patriots across the country and at locations overseas power the Maine-based nonprofit organization. The mission to remember, honor, and teach is carried out daily by millions of citizens who care deeply for those who have served our nation in the armed forces, and their families. Some of these remarkable individuals are veterans themselves or come from military families while others are driven by a deep sense of patriotism and community service.
Placing fresh, hand-made balsam remembrance wreaths on the headstones of veterans across the country in December requires tremendous logistics and unyielding support from the trucking industry.
Wreaths Across America shows its gratitude and appreciation for all those involved in transporting America's respect with "Trucking Tributes." These stories will introduce you to the men and women of the industry who make the mission possible.
Wreaths Across America is growing as more patriotic citizens step forward to sponsor veterans' remembrance wreaths to remember our nation's fallen heroes, and that means more fresh-balsam wreaths are transported from Maine to destinations across the nation and overseas. In 2016, 1.1 million wreaths were distributed for National Wreaths Across America Day.
As the organization increases its capacity to honor more veterans and their families, "Trucking Tributes" is pleased to announce Wreaths Across America's new partnership with NFI, a leading supply chain solutions provider out of Cherry Hill, NJ.
"This has grown so rapidly and it's an opportunity for us to step in and help continue to propel that growth and plan for the future," explains David Broering, NFI's Senior Vice President of Integrated Solutions. "The TCA has done such an amazing job, and Debbie Sparks by proxy, of getting it here, but, that old phrase of what's gotten you here won't get you any further sort of scenario. I think TCA deserves a lot of credit for recognizing that it was time to really move to a different level of management for the way this will be handled long term."
"With NFI managing the logistics, the sky is the limit. They will help make the entire operation more efficient,” said Debbie Sparks, Director Corporate Development and Community Relations, Wreaths Across America. "This relationship is going to enable us to grow exponentially to meet [our founder] Morrill Worcester’s vision to one day place a wreath on every veteran’s headstone."
NFI will be managing carrier onboarding, load confirmations, distributing final bills of lading, tracking deliveries, and managing deliveries to the ceremony locations.
NFI is a family owned and operated company established in 1932. Brothers Sid, Ike, and Jeff Brown are the leaders of the organization and according to David that culture of family and being able to get things done was what attracted him to the company back in 2012.
"I found NFI's commitment to a high degree of customer service and execution on behalf of its clients impressive."
In addition to the 200+ North American warehouses and transportation locations, David says NFI has nine brokerage and transportation management offices; six in the United States, three in Canada. "We have a fairly young and diverse demographic of employees who really care about what they're doing every day," David explains. "We have a purpose-driven culture. Our people want to give back and feel like what they're doing is meaningful for other people. When this opportunity with Wreaths Across America came up it was the opportunity for us to combine what we're really good at which is logistics with something we really care about which is giving back."
The commitment to the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor, and teach is personal for David as well as other NFI employees.
"My grandfather, William Gast passed three years ago was a tail gunner in World War II," shares David. "He was shot down and taken prisoner by the Germans for eight months. He lived into his nineties and he was just such an amazing person. He was always so thankful for the little things that got him through that experience."
David says upon hearing of this new support role NFI would play leading up to National Wreaths Across America Day, some of the employees who are veterans came forward to ask how they can help.
NFI’s management of the transportation will be completed with the support of FourKites, a supply chain visibility platform that tracks shipments, which helps NFI proactively manages exceptions. This will give volunteers and communities precise information on the arrival of the wreaths.
"It's a different approach than it has been in the past," David explains. "While we probably won't be successful in getting every single truck transparently tracked from pickup to delivery our goal is to have a good deal of those done in a way that everyone is aware of when the wreaths will be arriving so the ceremonies can go off without a hitch and everyone can be recognized as planned."
David says he'll be supporting three other NFI employees with the Wreaths Across America project.
"Rich Joseph is the overall manager who is the Branch Manager of the New Jersey operations. Sara Graham is the Operations Manager and she'll be working with Renata Leo who will be the day-to-day contact and main focal point of operations for NFI. They're the key to this going off without a hitch."
David says he'll be working on reaching out to some of NFI's partners who are not part of the Wreaths Across America effort as of yet in order to expand the capacity for wreath sponsorships.
Thank you, David and the entire NFI team for your patriotism and tireless support of the Wreaths Across America mission to remember, honor and teach.
You can hear more from David and our other patriots in our "Trucking Tributes" on Wreaths Across America Radio at 11:00 AM and again at 4:00 PM Eastern Monday-Friday.