Product is placed at key locations throughout the store, with most cases being delivered inside the cooler. Wawa associates quickly put the items away to ensure temperature integrity. One idea that McLane and Wawa came up with was to chill water and Gatorade at the distribution center and deliver the product cold to the stores—so that customers wouldn’t get warm drinks.
“It takes about three days to chill down a load of water or Gatorade, so we always make sure we’ve got enough on hand,” says Tidmore.
“It’s more cost effective to chill down the product at the DC than it is at the store. Plus, those walk-in coolers are very small, so when you let in a big load of heat with warm products it impacts the other products as well.”
McLane and Wawa worked with Sterling Solutions LLC, a Memphis-based supply chain and management process improvement firm, to help it improve its cold chain.
Last year, McLane began delivering to each Wawa store every other day. “That way, the store manager knows when to expect the delivery,” says Tidmore. “And we typically deliver between 2 p.m. and 4 a.m., when they’re least busy, so we don’t have to worry about tying up parking lots.”
Tidmore points out that in recent years, McLane has made a lot of investments in fleet technology. “We’re using technology for routing and tracking. We’ve got onboard computers and service logs. It has certainly helped our drivers become more efficient. The last mile is critical.”
A LOOK AHEAD
While there are no immediate plans to expand the distribution center, Tidmore is anticipating growth in the future. “We designed the DC so that we can make the aisles longer to accommodate more product or add more shipping doors,” he says. “We’ve got a lot of options.”
And while the partnership between McLane New Jersey and Wawa has been a success, Tidmore isn’t resting on his laurels.
“The last two years have been great—we have matured as a division and have made great strides in our performance,” says Tidmore. “We’ve got a great relationship with Wawa, but none of us takes that for granted. The challenge is doing it right every day of the week—you can never take a short cut.”
Safety Is The Top Priority
At the New Jersey division of McLane, safety is the number one priority and the company regularly promotes, recognizes and rewards its teammate for working safely.
“Our safety programs are explained to each teammate on their first day of employment,” says Ron Hervi, the division’s human resources manager. “We cover our safety policy and our safety/performance reward policy. In addition, we explain our conveyor safety and ‘stretch and flex’ and ‘power and position’ programs.”
“Stretch and flex” is a set of stretching exercises completed at the start of each shift by all DC teammates. “Power and position” is the company’s method of using proper lifting techniques. Since most employees at McLane New Jersey perform some sort of physical labor, all teammates are required to learn proper lifting techniques.
“We have an active safety team that makes a big impact in our work environment,” says Hervi. “In addition, we have electronic message boards in our break room that displays safety tips and constant reminders of our daily progress to reach safety milestones.”
During orientation, each teammate is assigned a back belt and provided instructions on how to use it properly.
The company’s safety policy is covered in detail, and each teammate signs an acknowledgement statement regarding their understanding of it.
To support its commitment to a safe work environment, McLane provides financial and material rewards for its teammates. “At 100,000 safe hour increments, we celebrate the milestone with a cookout or catered meal and raffle prizes,” says Hervi.
“Our teammates want to work safe and everyone enjoys the food, prizes, enthusiasm and camaraderie created when the momentum builds,” adds Hervi. “Every McLane teammate embraces our safety culture and we are proud to promote a safe environment every day. ”