Posts Tagged “Allen Lund Company”

Keeping It Fresh: From Sprout to Store

By |

By Iyer Amruthur, Business Development Specialist, ALC San Antonio

Guanajuato, Michoacán, Puebla, Jalisco, and Sonora. What do these names all have in common, despite possibly being unknown to you as an average consumer?

They combine to account for most of the 31,900 hectares (98,595 acres) devoted by Mexico for broccoli farming. 70% of the product ends up being sold to primarily the U.S., followed by Canada, Japan, and some European countries as well.

It is also the main export of Guanajuato. So, why does this matter?  Just like you, I buy my broccoli from HEB here in Texas (although you may have a Kroger, Publix, or even Walmart in your areas). It’s one of the many year-round vegetables my family enjoys. And recently if you’ve caught the news, the weather has been pretty awful for us in Texas.

Inevitably, especially with border shipments, we see adverse weather throw hurdles into the logistics game. At times the border even shuts down, to the dismay of both the U.S. and Mexico. Some 16,000 trucks pass through the border town of Laredo, TX every day, and this accounts for 37% of all our trade between the U.S. and Mexico.

As you can guess, when those 16,000 trucks can’t move, it’s going to create some big delays! How does this affect you? Many people end up confused as to why weather in Texas causes some stores to run out of broccoli, hike prices, or have older product in places like Chicago.

While we have many sources of produce, our nation’s grocery stores aim to hit between the best price and the best quality which sometimes means an import! As you must have heard, not just Laredo, but most of Texas shut down its highways and freight came to a standstill. Even at my local HEB, you can see a reduced selection of fruits and vegetables at higher prices.

Grocery chains work hard to do whatever it takes to make sure you have what you need when you enter the store, and nothing exceeds the urgency of perishable goods. Here at ALC we work with our grocery customers to smooth things out. There are things we can do as a team, that are difficult to do from a company’s in-house logistics.

We can navigate the massive amounts of information, rescheduling, constantly shifting prices/supply of trucks, arrange transportation from other sources around the country and put it together in a fashion that provides an immediate solution. During poor weather conditions, 3PLS are some of the last doors that close, and with our expertise and resources, we can even provide solutions remotely.

Weather is Mother Nature’s way of throwing us curveballs and we strive to be able to react to our customers’ needs. Our goal is to ensure the consumer can count on fresh quality products available in their local stores no matter the weather in Texas or Chicago.

******

Iyer Amruthur is a business development specialist in the ALC San Antonio office and has two years of logistics experience. Iyer attended The University of Georgia where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, with a minor in Communications.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: USDA Farmers to Families Food Box

By |

By Nick Rooney, Transportation Broker, ALC Orlando

As the pandemic continues to move its way through the world, we are still navigating how to get through each day. Businesses closing, hair and nail salons shutting down, gym memberships across the globe now unable to be used.

Money has become scarce for some, food being one of the most difficult supplies to have in abundance in many homes. Food insecurity in households with children under 18 has increased by about 130 percent from 2018 to May 6, 2020, leaving millions to worry about their next meal. The Farmers to Families Food Box has done an amazing job helping the millions of families in need during these times of hardship.

This program was built as a way to deliver food to families in need, not letting food go to waste, and helping farmers and ranchers stay in business. The Farmers to Families Food Box program purchases fresh produce and other goods directly from distributors of all sizes across the nation, from local to national. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then they are transported to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving many families in need across the nation.

This is also helping to ensure our logistics system across America remains in a healthy balance by keeping freight moving and carriers in motion.

During the first round of obtaining produce and goods, beginning May 15 and ending on June 30, 2020, an astounding 35 million boxes were delivered in just the first 2 months. Round five started on December 21, 2020 and is scheduled to conclude at the end of April.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program has now provided over 133 million boxes to families in need so far since its inception. With round 5 in play, Farmers to Families has received over 6 billion dollars in funding, keeping companies running, employees paid, and most importantly, families fed.

The product provided is not limited to any specific commodity, for round 5, the USDA will purchase fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, meat, and seafood. This product assortment is just one example of why funding for boxes has been sporadic in cost throughout the year, markets are still alive and adapting causing rates for certain products to reach high dollar amounts, this isn’t stopping the millions of Americans pulling together to help each in need.

The year 2020 provided some of us with a different perspective on daily life and what it means to be in need. I suggest we take a step back and start looking at families and friends within our communities to find struggles and needs that we can try to help with. With everything going on right now, some need food, others may need a friend or someone to talk with, you can truly make a difference in someone’s life this year.

I will strive to make an impact in my community throughout this year starting with donations made to my local food bank. Farmers to Families has opened my eyes to a struggle that I truly thought was being handled here in America. Seeing that there will be more families in need within the coming year, I hope more programs like this one are put into place.

Nick Rooney began working for the Allen Lund Company in October of 2019 as a broker in training for the San Francisco office. Nick then joined the Orlando office in August of 2020, continuing his path to become a broker. As of January 2020, Nick is a transportation broker and manages produce loads for the Orlando office.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Difficult Choices

By |

By Matt Fyten, Operations Manager, ALC San Francisco

Everyone is familiar with the phone call, the Monday after a hectic holiday pull, “Hey it’s Never There Trucking, remember me? I have four empty reefer teams ready to go anywhere, can you help me out?”

As brokers, we have to make a choice on which carriers we give our business to in an effort to support our customers. While it might be tempting to give our business to that truck that is ready to haul our loads at a low rate, experienced brokers know that is not always the best long term solution.

What about the carriers that gave you trucks all year and even took on extra loads during that holiday? Are we really going to pass on those options for a truck even if it’s 100 dollars cheaper? These are the questions that are fiercely debated among brokers every day. Managing a carrier’s load volume as well as their relationship expectations has never been more important as we navigate this time of uncertainty.

The largest challenge for produce transportation brokers was that midway through 2020 dry van rates surpassed refrigerated truck rates. There is significantly less liability for a carrier to haul a dry van load compared to a refrigerated load. Refrigerated trucks hauling fresh produce know that they are going to get paid more money because they must wait for extended periods of time to get loaded, use more fuel in their reefer units, maintain a continuous cold chain, and are dealing with a product that has a short expiration date.

We spoke to one of our carriers who stated, “we are getting over $3.50 a mile, having zero claims with flexible loading and delivery dates, along with being able to use 80% of my reefers without having to buy new equipment made dry a profitable option for us.”

They know any breakdown or issue could cause a very expensive problem, constricting an already volatile truck market as our country was entering various stages of pandemic responses.

The rate discrepancy has made many refrigerated trucks that specialize in produce hesitant to commit to a year-long contract rate in 2021. I reached out to some of our highest volume carriers to get their thoughts on the upcoming year. Another of our larger carriers stated that contracts this year are “very risky and a gamble he is not willing to take.”

One solution is to work out mini contracts. These are locked in rates that can last for six months, a season, a month, or even a week. Having carriers sign up for programs like our own RIGS, will ensure we keep their trucks loading with ALC. Carriers take comfort in knowing that a single company can provide them round trips and they don’t need to search the load boards for freight. That same carrier also informed us that they avoid the posting boards because in times like this they need to be assured that they will receive payment from a reputable company like ALC.

Coming off of a very challenging year in 2020 it might be tempting to give business to the less expensive truck that shows up as the market softens. Last year showed us a market shift can come at any moment not just during the summer months or before the holidays. We have to treat carrier relationships like a long-term investment and continue to educate our carriers on the value of repeat business with ALC.

*****

Matt Fyten joined the Allen Lund Company in August of 2014 as a broker in training. Over the years he has held the roles of broker, senior broker and now Operations Manager in the San Francisco office. Matt holds a degree in Liberal Studies from San Francisco State University and has 12 years of experience in sales/customer relations.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Topo Chico: Bubbling Over Borders

By |

By Iyer Amruthur, Business Development Specialist, ALC San Antonio

The Legend of Topo Chico has a near and dear place in every Texan’s heart as the premier choice for natural sparkling mineral water. From an ancient story of an ailing Aztec princess whose father, Movtezum I Ilhuicamina, searched far and wide for a cure; wise priests told the king his daughter must bathe in the mystical waters to the north of them. The tribe embarked on a search, for health.


The king took his daughter to the springs by a mole-shaped hill called Topo Chico. After bathing in, and drinking the waters, legend has it that she was immediately cured. Now we see this same spring as one of the most popular sources of beverages in the world! Topo-Chico began selling its mineral water to the U.S. in the 1980s, with its primary market being the Mexican-American communities.


Texas was the biggest consumer of the Topo Beverage, and soon it developed a cult following which exploded in 2010. With retro-green-tinted bottles, and a mythical location in one of Monterrey, Mexico’s inactive volcanoes, they took the market by storm. That is until they closed one of the biggest deals in their history.


In 2017 Coca-Cola, the world’s largest soft drink company acquired Topo Chico for 220 Million Dollars. With the added supply chain, marketing, and business expertise they were able to expand their sales by 25% in the first quarter. Before the acquisition, 70% of all Topo Chico sales were in Texas but with Coke’s distribution network, they were able to easily reach areas they were unable to before. Soon they started to pop up in convenience stores, additional Walmart’s, and even Costco.


Coke understands the effect the supply chain can have on companies. One thing that the company recognized about Topo-Chico is that the following was cult-like, it was based in certain demographics, and it had a certain image people loved. As Kellam Mattier, a VP of innovation at Coke said, “It’s important for us to maintain the relevance with the core Topo Chico fan base while introducing the brand to new people.” This helps the original company, traditionally regional, to bring that same company feel to the whole nation.


Now with 2021 on the horizon, Coke will debut Topo Chico’s first Hard Alcoholic Seltzer in Latin American cities and will be launching in the U.S. in 2021. This shows the perfect synergy, and what happens between a loved brand, and an expert distributor. Logistics has a lot of the focus on trucks, but before trucks even hit the road, someone needs to make routes, orders, and deals. This is what Coke brings to the table, and why you may see Topo Chico in a store near you soon.


With the bottled-water industry booming to $16 billion in 2017, the market was shifting slightly away from soda. In this gap today, Topo-Chico fits perfectly and is growing just like the legend from long ago.

Iyer Amruthur is a business development specialist in the ALC San Antonio office and has two years of logistics experience. Iyer attended The University of Georgia where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing, with a minor in Communications.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Resilience

By |

By Braden Goodere

Business Development Manager, ALC San Francisco

Resilience is an important part of this industry and this year is no exception.

I believe this quote by John Rockefeller perfectly describes the current state of our industry. “If you want to succeed, you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the work paths of accepted success.”

The way growers, shippers, retailers, and transportation providers deal with ever constant change, have determined their success in the new “norm” we live in today.

Sales obviously has had to adapt, as well. The conventions that take place throughout the year have all taken place virtually and the in-person handshakes have been replaced by video chat requests. The most common word used to describe this year’s market is “uncertain” and with many clients working from home they depend on us more than ever to not just provide fair rates but to educate them about what we are seeing and hearing in the market.

Although rates started out lower than expected for summer, freight rates increased quickly and the usual decrease after the 4th of July never happened. This left many clients scrambling, looking to secure capacity for their supply chain. 

Our team at Allen Lund Company stood by our clients, growing year-over-year and absorbing costs on a percentage of our freight. Much of the success in expanding our base over the past seven months is due to the hardworking, essential employees throughout our offices working diligently with our clients to navigate the road ahead.

As we prepare for the holidays, our industry and companies’ resilience will once again be put to the test. California outbound freight is now seeing dry van rates surpass the refrigerated freight market. Many of the large cultural festivals that occur during this time are not taking place in person, however, we still anticipate drivers continuing to take time off to spend time with family.

Keeping an open dialogue with the companies we work with allows them to keep surprises to a minimum and in turn, help them service their own customers and consumers. While the upcoming holidays will be different for everyone, we know that our customers depend on and appreciate the resilience of our team.

Braden Goodere began working for the Allen Lund Company in September of 2013 as a business development specialist. In September 2019, he was promoted to business development manager. Goodere joined the company with many years of experience in agriculture, having grown up on a ranch. He attended Cal Poly-SLO and received a BS in agribusiness finance.

Read more »

Allen Lund Company’s 16th Year With Navidad en el Barrio

By |

The Allen Lund Company has committed to sponsorship and participation in Navidad en el Barrio, an organization established in 1972 by Danny Villanueva, former NFL player, to provide a healthy Christmas dinner to the most underserved families in Southern California. This will be ALC’s 16th year supporting this event. This year due to the pandemic, distributing Christmas dinners to 10,000 families is the goal with all of the proper protocols in place.

“We look forward to working with Navidad en el Barrio every year”, commented Nora Trueblood, director of marketing for the Allen Lund Company. “This year has been challenging to make sure that the warehouse and distribution processes all meet COVID-19 protocols but we will ensure that the communities of Southern California will have plentiful dinners to feed their families this Christmas.”

The Allen Lund Company coordinates transportation for perishables from growers to Southern California. Depending upon the size and location of the donation, ALC will combine products in the most efficient way to move to Los Angeles, where the donations are divided for the Christmas dinners.

Over the years, Grimmway Enterprises, Inc., Wada Farms Marketing Group, LLC, Duda Farm Fresh Foods, Mission Produce, Inc., Rainer Fruit Co., and so many other companies have joined ALC in the effort to give the least served in Southern California a proper Christmas dinner. Donations will be accepted the week of December 7th and the dinners distributed Saturday, December 12, 2020.

If you have an interest in participating in this event contact Nora Trueblood at 800.475.5863 or if you would like to donate, click here. Donate

About Allen Lund Company:

Specializing as a national third-party transportation broker with nationwide offices and over 550 employees, the Allen Lund Company works with shippers and carriers across the nation to arrange dry, refrigerated (specializing in produce), and flatbed freight; additionally, the Allen Lund Company has a logistics and software division, ALC Logistics, and an International Division licensed by the FMC as an OTI-NVOCC #019872NF. If you are interested in joining the Allen Lund Company team, please click here.

Established in 1976, the Allen Lund Company was recognized by Food Logistics magazine as a 2019 Top 3PL & Cold Storage Provider for TransKool Solutions, Logistics Tech Outlook for our software division ALC Logistics as a 2018 Top 10 Freight Management Solution Providers, 2018 Food Logistics’ Top 3PL & Cold Storage Providers list, 2017 Supply & Demand Chain Executive Top 100, 2017 Food Logistics 100+ Top Software and Tech Provider, a 2016 Top IT Provider by Inbound Logistics, 2015 Coca-Cola Challenger Carrier of the Year, 2015 Top Private Company in Los Angeles by the Los Angeles Business Journal, 2015 Top 100+ Software and Technology Providers, 2015 Top 100 Logistics IT Provider by Inbound Logistics, a 2014 Great Supply Chain Partner, and was placed in Transport Topics’ “2014 Top 25 Freight Brokerage Firms.” The company manages over 365,000 loads annually, and received the 2013 “Best in Cargo Security Award.” In 2011, the company received the TIA 3PL Samaritan Award, and NASTC (National Association of Small Trucking Companies) named Allen Lund Company the 2010 Best Broker of the Year. More information is available at allenlund.com

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Freight Rate Regulations Under Discussion

By |

By Steve Hull, Manager, ALC, Portland

What a strange year it’s been so far in 2020, with so many changes and challenges in the perishables space! One item, that could greatly affect the business models and proprietary information of grower/shippers, has gone under the radar.

In a nutshell, a minority of motor carriers and carrier trade associations (such as OOIDA) are pushing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to update the terms and enforcement of an existing section of federal code relating to freight costs paid between grower/shippers, brokers, and carriers. 49 CFR 371.3(c) was initially written back in the days of deregulation in 1980, and requires brokers to allow carriers to view the rates paid by the transportation buyer to the broker.

In practical terms, however, carriers have rarely asked to view that information. The majority of renewed interest in the regulation came about in Q2 of this year. Coinciding with historically low shipping volumes nationwide, normal supply and demand market forces caused a sharp fall in freight rates to carriers. Basically, a lack of supply (not as many available loads) caused a decrease in demand (lower freight rates). Carriers in turn, wrongly accused brokers of price gouging and other unscrupulous business tactics.

How does this all apply to grower/shippers? Just like forklifts, pallets, and packing material – the linehaul freight cost of getting your goods to your customer is something you purchase out of your operational budget. When the code was written back in the 80’s, it was more normal for carriers to pay a ‘commission’ to the broker. But now, the way most freight transactions occur has changed.

Per an article about this topic on Overdrive Online, Jason Craig, of C.H. Robinson stated on a recent listening session with the FMCSA, many brokers treat the contracts with shippers and carriers, as “separate transactions” and that “the price paid by the shipper does not affect the price paid to the carrier any longer.”

If changes are made to the code, the proprietary pricing you pay to a broker could be mandated to be given to a motor carrier. For every load. In essence, your buying power and negotiated pricing would be laid bare for all to see.

An important point as well, you could be barred from inserting language into any shipper-broker contract to keep your pricing from being disclosed. A dire scenario would be one that causes you to change your business practices.

You could even decide to end yearly, or quarterly, RFPs to brokers! All because a few carriers didn’t like the rates they were being offered by some brokers for a few weeks in early 2020. (And to get you up to speed on rates in Q3 and Q4, per DAT, there are many lanes that are seeing record high truck rates being paid to carriers.) 

What can you do? You can read up on these broker carrier issues here. And more importantly, FMCSA is still accepting comments from anyone interested in voicing their opinion. The comment period is open until November 18, 2020.

You can use this link to submit your thoughts, comments, and concerns. You can also reach out to your freight broker, to discuss how any changes would affect your specific business.

Steve Hull is manager of the Portland office and has been with the Allen Lund Company for 24 years. Hull is a graduate of the University of Southern California completing a dual major in political science and U.S. history.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Fatigue Management

By |

By Veronica Marshall
Broker’s Assistant, ALC Boston

Everyday there are millions of drivers on the road in the U.S. Unfortunately many of these drivers see or experience the dangers of driving while fatigued.

According to a recent publication, “approximately one in every five fatal vehicular crashes involve driver fatigue; a third of crashes involving a drowsy driver result in injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations stated, tired drivers are responsible for over 70,000 crashes a year, causing nearly 45,000 injuries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year are caused by drowsy drivers.”

We have to take responsibility for our own actions. If we feel tired but think we could go another five miles or so, don’t do it. Some people are unaware of how tired they are and begin to fall asleep behind the wheel.

Truck drivers do not sleep enough for the amount of work that they do, making them more likely to have accidents late at night or early in the morning. That is why it is best for all drivers to get adequate rest and be aware of their lethargies.

Truck driving is a popular industry and can become competitive. It is important for us to remember that the safety of everyone on the road is our top priority.

Can you imagine if all our truck drivers were tired, set the wrong temperature or crashed and never made it to their destinations? Not only is being alert important for driving but you also need to be attentive to temperature controls, especially with refrigerated freight.

The produce cannot be too cold or hot during the trip. Every product, especially produce, is different when it comes to temperature requirements. The products have a limited time to stay fresh in our trucks, which is why we must be vigilant.

If deliveries are late, the integrity of the produce could begin to deteriorate. With everything going on in the world today we need our produce delivered in the shape that it was picked up in. This is why truck drivers need to be alert and attentive when transporting produce.
Here are some tips on how to remain alert and attentive while driving:

  1. Ensure you are getting adequate sleep on a daily basis.
  2. Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  3. Avoid taking medications that may cause drowsiness.
  4. Be aware of warning signs to know when you should take a break. Warning signs can include frequent yawning, eyelids feeling heavy, blurred vision, inability to concentrate, feeling your head start to tilt or fall to one side.

Overall, its is important for all truck drivers to sleep well before long hauls, follow hours of service regulations, and recognize and acknowledge feelings of fatigue. If needed, find a rest stop or safe place to pull over and rest. The safety of truck drivers and other drivers on the road is a top priority.

Veronica Marshall began working for the Allen Lund Company in April of 2019, as a broker’s assistant for the Boston office. Marshall earned a degree in accounting from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Heroes Among Us

By |

By Kelly Miller, Assistant Manager, ALC Los Angeles

There is so much uncertainty surrounding this pandemic, we are bound to see impacts on our food system and the supply and demand of fresh produce. Growers, packers, processors, transportation and shipping are some of the industries that have been affected. Halts and delays due to insufficient labor in the fields will cause dwell times to increase for drivers and ultimately delay transportation to stores as well as price hikes and availability of products. Tom Stenzel, CEO of The United Fresh Produce Association, estimates that the produce industry will take a $5 billion dollar hit from the Covid-19 outbreak. Stenzel stated that “restaurants and other foodservice outlets account for as much as 40% of fresh fruit and vegetable sales” and it’s unfathomable to be shifting that amount to retail outlets.
So far, we have not seen a shortage of produce in our stores which is great for consumers. Many people are looking to increase their consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables hoping to boost their immune systems in order to stay healthy and combat this virus. Behind the scenes, industry members are dealing with logistical complications like making sure the labor force in the fields, packing houses and stores are safe and employees are able to work.
In the transportation industry, there is a growing concern for driver shortages due to health issues as well as limited resources out on the road. Many rest stops have been closed which means limited bathroom or shower availability. These are just a few challenges that drivers are facing and some have even decided to retire early due to the pandemic. I don’t know about you, but I would not want to work without these necessities.
I would personally like to take the time to thank all the essential workers. Drivers, growers, manufacturers, grocery store employees and the healthcare workers for they are the heroes in this pandemic!

***

Kelly Miller began working for the Allen Lund Company in October of 2001. She started her career as a transportation broker, was promoted to operations manager and now is the assistant manager of the Los Angeles Sales office.

Read more »

Keeping It Fresh: Beyond COVID-19

By |

By Nora Trueblood

We have been inundated with information, some mostly correct, some not, specific to COVID-19. I don’t know about you, but I am quite exhausted by it all. Every one of us is on a different journey because of the pandemic, and I personally continue to recognize that a person’s opinion is just that…their opinion. I do think it is safe to say, that we are all trying to manage and figure out our own journey through life as we deal with COVID-19.
Keeping it Fresh is distributed to many of our perishable/produce customers, and I wanted to take the opportunity in this issue to bring to your attention some of the great philanthropy that is taking place during this crazy time. Many of these growers/shippers work with the Allen Lund Company in everyday business, but many also donate food to Navidad en el Barrio, a project that has existed since 1972, and one that ALC has supported since 2004.
So, a hearty thank you from the Allen Lund Company and the recipients of these generous donations to:

We still have quite a road ahead, and we wish all of our industry friends the best as we maneuver through our current challenges.

****

Nora Trueblood is Director of Marketing and Communications, Allen Lund Company Corporate of La Canada, CA. She began her career with ALC in 2002 as Director of Marketing & Communications. Prior to joining the company, Trueblood worked as the event manager with the Montrose Arts Council and Alpine Dance in Montrose, CO, had her own production and event planning company and spent 7 years with Lorimar Television.

Read more »