Life would be a lot simpler and angst-free if your fairy godmother could simply wave a magic wand and “poof!” the perfect third-party logistics provider (3PL) appears instantly at your doorstep. As one insider quipped, “You have to be careful because there are a lot of toads out there.”
So how should food shippers approach their quest for that princely 3PL without mistakenly choosing a toad that could wreck havoc on companies’ supply chains, customer service levels and reputations? Let’s first take a look at a company that found a perfect match in the 3PL it chose.
The Right Stuff
Amelia Bay produces highly valuable and very fragile concentrated liquid botanical extracts for clients making ready-to-drink tea products, ice creams, sorbets and frozen yogurts.
“The parameters of the ingredients in our liquid product constantly must be kept at the proper temperature, or the ingredients will separate,” explains Sue Ann Rhodes, director of operations for the Alpharetta, GA-based company. “So when we request that our product remains chilled and somehow it is accidentally frozen, that product is ruined because when it thaws, the liquid will not return into a solution again. Sataria, our 3PL, understands that when we say the product must remain chilled, we mean it can reach a minimum of 35 degrees Fahrenheit and no lower. Sataria will not put our product on a truck for delivery to our customers if it has not been maintained within the specified temperature range.”
It’s also a source of peace of mind for Amelia Bay to know that Sataria carries the proper liability coverage in the event that something happens during delivery. “We are assured that our product is 100-percent covered,” notes Rhodes. “This is extremely important, as there are many companies out there who may allow you a few cents on a pound of product. But our products are worth around $10 per pound.”
When products leave Amelia Bay’s facilities, they are in A-1 condition and the company expects those products to arrive at their customers in that same A-1 condition. “We don’t want to have claims due to something like a punctured drum of product because of undue rough handling,” Rhodes continues. A damaged drum would be unacceptable to a customer and creates a situation with the potential to affect the company’s pristine customer service levels.
Prior to its four-year-long relationship with Sataria, Amelia Bay was no stranger to the uneasy situation of being bumped from a scheduled pickup because the scheduled carrier’s earlier customer had loaded an extra two pallets, leaving no room for Amelia Bay’s shipment. These incidents meant shipments had to be held over until the following day, which negatively affected the company’s supply chain and customer service.
“Now with Sataria as our 3PL, we don’t have to worry about there not being enough room for our shipments, because when we call for a pickup, we know that pickup will happen when we need it to happen,” Rhodes says.
Having the perfect 3PL relationship means Amelia Bay rests assured it has an entire team at Sataria who understands the company’s unique requirements. “The people I work with at Sataria really network with each other so that if I place my pickup order with one person there, the others in the team are always aware of it,” explains Rhodes. “So there is a shared knowledge among the team relative to our specific needs.”
For this small, niche company, getting acceptable shipping rates is guaranteed through Sataria’s extensive network. “I wouldn’t be able to get these kinds of rates on my own,” Rhodes reports. “When I put us into their cooperative, I know I am saving a lot of money without having to call around to find the best rates from a company who will be able to meet my pickup and delivery requirements.”