- When COVID-19 hit a lot of businesses switched from restaurants and other foodservice to retail. What are your biggest challenges making the transition from a logistics stand point?
When the pandemic hit, ALC was very busy and actually increased our business because we are deeply imbedded in the food and beverage space. Our customers were required to help feed even more people than ever before. Our foodservice businesses were of course more stressed as restaurants, schools and big venues were closed or cancelled, so we helped by working on other strategies with our customers and worked to pivot into retail whenever possible.
2. How much of your perishable freight is handled by owner-operators and small fleets and do you see this changing at all?
We have a mix of owner-operators and smaller fleets as well as some of the biggest trucking names in the produce industry hauling loads for Allen Lund Company. In order to service our clients, we need all of our carrier relationships to work together to solve the complex transportation issues for our shipper clients. In general, the trucking industry is made up of wonderful people that follow the American dream of owning their own businesses and I hope that doesn’t change. The one thing I hope people realized through this crisis is that all of the drivers across the U.S. have kept the flow of goods moving – without these drivers this pandemic would have been much worse – so thanks again to all those drivers out there!
3. What trends do you see in the coming months regarding truck and driver availability, as well as freight rates?
Well with what’s going on in the economy we should not see a driver shortage in the near term. We do not see the purchasing of many trucks right now, as class 8 sales are way down. Freight rates have been all over the place this year, and we all want to make sure the trucking companies stay in business and are treated fairly. However, we do live in a supply demand market – which can really be difficult to maneuver through during these major disruptions. Overall we see this year as a roller coaster, but feel truck rates will be going up later in the year and into next year as we hope the economy gets back on its feet.
4. What are the biggest changes you have seen in recent years making trucking more efficient such a communication, dock scheduling, etc.
You know everyone is talking about data, but truly accurate data that tells a good story is still a few miles away. We all like getting packages in just a few days so the systems to make that happen will require trucking to continue to change, but that change will be substantial as we work out all the kinks. We need all of our carriers to get on a network of some sort so they can all play in the successes of this new market we are entering in. It’s funny that you mention dock scheduling as our AlchemyTMS has solved major issues for our customers – carriers and shippers with that software module. The more we can automate systems that help our carriers and shippers alike, less manpower and frustration exists – which is a great thing. We have spent a lot of time and money to develop systems to make sure our customers get their products to market safely, secured and on time.
Bob Rose is Vice President, National Produce Sales, for the Allen Lund Company. While ALC is based in LaCanada, CA, Bob is based in the San Francisco office and has been with company 34 years.
Allen Lund Company is a national third-party transportation broker with nationwide offices and over 500 employees working with shippers and carriers across the nation to arrange for dry, refrigerated (specializing in produce), and flatbed freight. Additionally, the Allen Lund Company has a Logistics & Software division, ALC Logistics, as well as an International division.