Very "flat" chain of command. You will know who the top executives are and they are approachable and humble. There is not a lot of office politics to put up with, and no unnecessary drama. That said, just because you're allowed to voice your opinions doesn't mean they'll listen. You can tell them what you want to change, but then they'll just tell you to go back and do it the way they told you to.
Support from management
See communication. I would also add that back when I was a company employee, I was district manager for two years and my bosses were the main thing holding me back. One of the things that makes this job hard is that you may have an idea of how you want the job done, and your boss will have another. It doesn't end there. Your boss's boss may have a third way you're supposed to do things, and that person's boss may have a fourth. You *will* get caught in an unwinnable situation where you can't please everybody.
N/A, really. Independent operator means every one is on their own. You can reach your superiors without trouble, but you could easily go weeks or months without seeing anyone else in your company, and you'll have coworkers you never even meet.
Freedom to work independently
Yes and no. Technically as an independent operator, you own the route. You're self-employed. If your truck breaks down, it's on you. If you miss a stop, it's on you. You're totally independent... except when they want things done a certain way. Then you have to do what they tell you to do. The contract has a non-interference clause - You don't mess with their business and they don't mess with yours. That clause is the poison pill in the contract, because it turns out they interpret doing things differently from how they want them done as interfering in their business.
Absolutely awful. You order product on one week to be delivered the following week, and it wasn't the least bit unusual to find out way too late that the higher-ups had put something on sale in your accounts without telling you. Sometimes you didn't know there was a sale on until you saw it in the store's flyer. You had no recourse but to accept running out of product and then being blamed for it by both the customers and the bosses.
See previous answer
Attitude towards older colleagues
See previous answer
If you make a go of your route, you can buy more. You can hire people to work for you. You probably won't be promoted.
Overall compensation for your work
The pay is the best thing about the job. My spouse doesn't work, and I brought in enough money to keep all the bills paid with plenty left over for fun stuff. Of course, when you work the kind of hours the job calls for, it's pretty hard to spend money anyway.
Office / Work Environment
Long, hard hours, indoors and outdoors. Not all trucks are air-conditioned, no warehouses are, and some warehouses don't even have lights or restrooms on the premises. You will get dirty, sweaty, wind-whipped, rained on, and cold, sometimes all in the same day, and you will normally work from before sunrise until after sunset.
See previous answer
I had to give up the route for some very complicated reasons, but one of the main ones was that I could no longer consistently work 12-14 hours a day. You can get positively rich if you can, but you will flame out hard if you can't.
The two dominant Utz brands in my part of the country are Golden Flake and Zapps. Zapps has a fairly neutral image, but Golden Flake has a longstanding problem with image. The product is frequently seen as the off-brand by the shoppers, and the employees have a reputation for laziness with the stores. I can say, from my DM days, that this is fairly earned. You will have an uphill battle in this area. You will have to prove that you're "not like everyone else."
You sign a contract when you buy the route. They can't fire you except for breach of contract. On the other hand, you can't just quit either. You have to re-sell the route.
You have to be able to get in and out of the trucks. You have to be able to drive. There aren't any other things that would physically exclude someone with a disability from doing the job.
No complaints there
This is the reason I took the job in the first place. It's a great challenge. It's the hardest job I've ever had. Every day you have to solve a maze ad every stop you have to solve a puzzle. It will engage you 100%, all the time. And the pay is great. The thing you have to watch out for is you can get stuck with an unsolvable puzzle. I had a route there for a while that could not possibly be worked the way everyone wanted it worked. Sometimes that just happens, and you will be blamed for not doing the impossible if it happens to you too.
Inclusive / Diverse
They don't discriminate against anything - even in the hard conservative state I lived in, we had all races, all genders (including trans), all sexual orientations, all ages, all levels of physical and mental ability. They are truly only interested in merit - can you do the job or not? Nothing about your identity matters.
Suggestions for improvement
- Upper management needs to get with the program. They've been in business since 1923 and their official attitude is very conservative (in the business sense, not the political one). They are slow to adapt to any change, and they need to stop trying to run the company like it's 20 years ago. The economy isn't the same, the same old business plans they've been working for 90+ years doesn't work anymore, and they just don't seem to realize that.
What I like about the company
Great pay, and never a dull moment. That kept me in there through a lot of hardship.
What I dislike about the company
See previous answers. Lack of internal communication, lack of internal support, lack of any kind of consistency on performance expectations.