Written by Emery Gronewold, Data Accuracy Analyst

Dot Foods’ Fourteenth Annual Forklift Rodeo National Championship was held on June 20 this year in the Illinois dry warehouse, and the contestants were some of the “sweetest” the Rodeo has ever seen! 

Over 50 order selectors from across the country, representing 11 U.S. and two Canada distribution centers (DCs), competed to test their skills with four different types of warehouse machines.

How the Forklift Rodeo works:

Each employee must navigate through a pallet-stacked course while carrying a load of pallets, an upside-down trash can, and two basketballs on top. The basketballs are used to make sure the drivers are starting, stopping, and turning at safe speeds. 

Some typical time penalties include knocking over a pallet (add 5 seconds), losing a basketball (add 20 seconds), and failing to use proper safety procedures (add 20 seconds). The driver with the lowest time wins!

The importance of safety:

This year, our warehouse material handlers accomplished 18 “clean runs,” which means there were no pallets touched or knocked over, and no basketballs were dropped—This is an excellent example of the safety and skill of our forklift drivers.

Discover pride, respect, and friendly competition:

California Material Handler Ulises Rodriguez highlighted how the Rodeo made him feel part of a family.

“I feel the family environment every time I come to work. Hopefully, I get to see these guys next year when I come back to Nationals.”

This Rodeo was Idaho Material Handler Nick Scott’s first time to Nationals. It was also his first time on a plane!

He stated, “There is just no other place like here. Everyone is treated with such pride and respect. And it is amazing that they do events like these where we get to meet new people.”

Illinois Cooler Coach Chris Gobel encouraged all warehouse employees to do the Forklift Rodeo.

“You get to see other DCs and talk to people you wouldn’t get to meet.” Chris also commented that the Rodeo brings out some friendly competition, not only between employees but also managers and other DCs!

Illinois Dry Material Handler Dustin McGee shared that the Forklift Rodeo wasn’t the only event for the competitors.

“We also got to go down to St. Louis during Mid-Year meetings and talk to other people and managers. And then after the Rodeo, we go to Twin Hollows and have a cookout and a skeet shoot.”

The winners of each category will enjoy their choice of one of seven all-expense paid vacations to the following: Cancun, Las Vegas, St. Petersburg Beach, Disney World/Land, or a Cruise

Watch the Video:

2019 Forklift Rodeo Champions:

DC Champion:

Ardmore, Oklahoma

Order Picker:

First Place – Jacob Judy – Indiana: 1 minute 6.8 seconds (Clean Run), five years of service, five years injury free

Second Place – Justin Gray – Maryland: 1 minute 11.5 seconds (Clean Run), 19 years of service, eight years injury free

Third Place – Jordan Thomas – Oklahoma: 1 minute 13.5 seconds (Clean Run), seven years of service, seven years injury free


First Place – Ryan Stambaugh – Illinois Frozen: 1 minute 1.8 seconds (Clean Run), 12 years of service, 12 years injury free

Second Place – Michael Barnes – Idaho: 1 minute 1.8 seconds (Clean Run), two years of service, two years injury free

Third Place – Cody McGowan – Tennessee: 1 minute 3.3 seconds (Clean Run), three years of service, three years injury free

Mule/Pallet Jack:

First Place – Elliot Thompson – Oklahoma: 1 minute 7.8 seconds, six years of service, four years injury free

Second Place – Gerald Tipton – Illinois Dry: 1 minute 9.7 seconds (Clean Run), six years of service, one year injury free

Third Place – Gordo Sanchez – California: 1 minute 12 seconds (Clean Run), seven years of service, seven years injury free

Narrow Aisle:

First Place – Braxton Prather – Illinois Dry: 1 minute 4.4 seconds (Clean Run), two years of service, two years injury free

Second Place – Rhett Butler – Indiana: 1 minute 9.4 seconds (Clean Run), one year of service, one year injury free

Third Place – Brandon Battice – Oklahoma: 1 minute 11.4 seconds, six years of service, six years injury free 

Think you have what it takes to become the next Forklift Rodeo National Champion?