McLane New Jersey serves just one customer—the Wawa convenience store chain.
McLane New Jersey is a rather unique facility. Out of McLane Co.’s 20 grocery distribution centers, it is the only one to serve a single customer—the Wawa Inc. convenience store chain.
The distribution center was built in 2004 after McLane teamed up with Wawa to create an innovative way to streamline operations and improve customer service. In just five short years, the start-up DC has matured into a full-fledged model of efficiency, with outstanding on-time delivery and order fulfillment rates.
The success is due to the hard work and commitment of the employees of both companies, says Jim Tidmore, president of McLane New Jersey. “McLane and Wawa have a lot of beliefs and values in common. We both believe in taking care of our employees, creating an environment to work in.”
Tidmore, who started out with Fleming Cos., is a 22-year McLane veteran, having worked in a number of McLane divisions throughout the U.S. He’s been at the New Jersey DC for two years.
The McLane Co., headquartered in Temple, TX, is a $30 billion wholesale distributor, providing grocery and foodservice supply chain solutions for thousands of convenience stores, mass merchants, drug stores and military locations, as well as thousands of chain restaurants throughout the United States.
For its ground-breaking relationship with Wawa, McLane’s New Jersey DC has received Food Logistics’ Golden Pallet award in the convenience store wholesaler category. The Golden Pallet Awards, sponsored by Food Logistics, are the first industry awards to recognize excellence in warehousing. The award for foodservice distribution will be featured in our October issue.
IN IT TOGETHER
Wawa, based in Wawa, PA, opened its first food store in 1964 and over the years became a regional market leader by differentiating itself from its competitors.
Already well known for its award-winning freshly-brewed coffee, the retailer was expanding its fresh and prepared foods lines, serving up products such as breakfast items, hoagies, sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, soups and wraps. These products—as well as outstanding customer service—helped Wawa build a loyal customer base and continually increase sales.
But with this growth came a complex, disjointed supply chain and by 1999, Wawa found itself facing delivery challenges. At that time, the company was working with two McLane distribution centers—the Mid-Atlantic division in Frederickburg, VA, and the Northeast division in Baldwinsville, NY—as well as with another wholesale distributor.
“We were making deliveries to their stores once or twice a week,” says Tidmore. “In addition, Wawa was handling some of their own distribution. They had a lot of trucks on their sites each day and the stores were getting multiple deliveries. They wanted that one-stop truck that covered the majority of their products.”
Wawa began looking for a vendor that could consolidate its supply chain and be flexible enough to quickly adapt to changing customer needs. And with fresh and prepared foods being such a high priority, the retailer needed a partner that could manage its cold chain, which called for multiple temperature zones in the warehouse as well as on the truck.
After evaluating a number of vendors, Wawa decided to work with McLane. “We had been servicing Wawa stores for more than 10 years, so there’s been a long relationship between the two companies,” says Tidmore.
In addition, with McLane being one of the largest supply chain providers in the country, Wawa knew it could rely on McLane’s distribution prowess for dependability and a high level of customer service—as well as the commitment of its employees.
By 2003, the companies had defined a business model that would accommodate all of Wawa’s needs. They decided to build a custom distribution center in New Jersey. McLane would build, own and run the facility for Wawa. “This was a first for McLane,” says Tidmore.