DOT Foods Holds Unique, Regional Competition - - No One Gets You Closer

DOT Foods Holds Unique, Regional Competition

ARDMORE, OK -- At first, you may think the largest food redistributor in the U.S. and the rodeo have nothing in common.

But throw in heavy machinery and some bragging rights, and you got yourself a unique competition.

Between the aisles of A1 steak sauce and California raisins,  a fierce competition ensues at the DOT foods distribution center in Ardmore.

"They hear rodeo and they're like, 'Oh you know bulls, cows.' But no by far this thing right here, it's a competition like no other," said Adrian Roberson, a warehouse trainer at the distribution center.

It's not your typical rodeo, this is a forklift rodeo.

"It's much harder than it looks," said warehousing director Rob Hendry. "Yeah these guys are very good at what they do."

These warehouse wranglers are driving against the clock for a spot to compete in the company's grand national championship rodeo.

And instead of bucking broncos and bulls, they maneuver their forklifts through an obstacle course while switching out pallet loads, and balancing basketballs.

"It's a challenge," said Cindy Young, who represented the distribution center at the finals in 2009. "It makes it fun."

Employees say the rodeo is a great opportunity to build camaraderie while having fun.

"We work as a team daily so we all try to support each other," said Young.

And for some drivers like Matt Boyd, the competitive side can come out quick.

"I hit a trashcan," said Boyd. "There's two very difficult turns and I'm on a mule that I've never driven before. Ever."

But at the end of the day, the warehouse wranglers ride off into the sunset on the same team.

"DOT offers a career, an opportunity at a career," said Hendry. "How better to prove that than to give them a means to celebrate their profession."

"Oklahoma DC, we're going to the nationals," said Roberson. "We're going to win it too."

The center in Ardmore will send four to the forklift rodeo national championship.

The finals where representatives from all eight DOT foods distribution centers will compete is scheduled for June 19 in Mount Sterling, Illinois.