July 11, 2013
New Rules Of The Road
As if we didn’t need more stress and strain, another challenge is headed our way that will further impact our day-to-day efficiency and profitability. The trucking market is in rapid decline and we will see even further rate increases over the next year or two. This time, the culprit is not a short-term spike in fuel prices, which often decline as quickly as they rise. Rather, the issue now is more structural in nature and will be with us for the long term. The good news is that when something is structural, we know it will be with us for awhile and we can plan for it. But the bad news is that it will be with us for a long time and that we need to plan for it. New Rules Now In EffectAs of July 1, new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rules went into effect. Within […]
October 24, 2012
Choosing Shipping And Distribution Software
It often surprises me to hear how many growers don’t use adequate software for shipping and distribution. Sometimes they don’t use any software for shipping and distribution — just spreadsheets, paper and a whiteboard. Why? For most growers, the cost of shipping and distribution is among the highest for line items. The return on investment of logistics software and automation, however, is one of the shortest you will find. In some cases, the investment is returned in a matter of days — or during your next shipment run.If I were to give you the following offer, would you take it? You give someone $1 on Monday, and by Friday, you will have reduced your costs by $2? Of course you would. In the same way you use automation for your greenhouse or shade house operations, like watering, heating, air flow control, potting, etc., you should also look at every area […]
August 2, 2012
The Great Truck Driver Shortage
You probably got into trucking by complete accident. You started growing or brokering plants and all of a sudden, you were in the trucking business too! How did that happen? Don’t worry, you are not alone; I ask myself the same question every day. As with all of the challenges we face each day, except for the drain on cash part, the actual physical trucks aren’t really the problem. No, the real problem is the drivers, or rather, the lack of good ones. There is good reason for this shortage — and it is getting worse. Demographics People are getting older. This seems obvious, but what I mean is that the general population is getting older, and a lot of the good old drivers of the past are retiring or close to retirement. Typically these empty seats would be filled by new drivers entering the market. The problem is, nobody […]
January 19, 2012
Overcoming Spring Freight Challenges
Here we are again, with spring upon us as well as the worst freight market in modern history. What do I mean by “worst in modern history?” In the trucking and logistics world that I live in, we are experiencing the toughest capacity crunch in more than 50 years. It is a perfect storm of driver demographics, government regulations, lack of financing and shippers willing to pay top dollar to move their freight. Let me explain. Driver DemographicsDrivers are leaving the workforce faster than ever before. Many trucking companies are paying sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000 for drivers to change companies rather than allowing the truck and trailer to sit idle. Unused vehicles cost the trucking company money. As a whole, our workforce is getting older, and the drivers aren’t necessarily the youngest (nor the fittest) bunch. Moreover, strict immigration laws and government regulations have virtually stopped foreign drivers […]
August 10, 2011
Is Dedicated Contract Carriage The Trucking Solution For You?
Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try […]
June 24, 2011
Higham: One Transportation Solution
Dedicated Contract Carriage is one of the fastest growing segments of the trucking and distribution industry. Companies like Walmart, Target, Kroger and a host of name brand distributors use Dedicated Contract Carriage as a way to reduce costs, increase truck capacity and transfer liability and headaches. In fact, many major corporations that need a truck fleet are moving away from ownership (including leasing) and toward Dedicated Contract Carriage for some or all of their trucking operations. Generally, you have four options when moving your material to your customer locations. The first three of these options are relatively common–and 99 percent of growers fall into one of these three categories. First, you can buy your own trucks (and I include leasing or renting trucks in this category). Second, you can outsource the entire job to a third party (a third party logistics provider, 3PL or a broker). Third, you can try to […]
April 20, 2011
Higham: Freight Rates Soaring, Capacity Tightening
A perfect storm of issues are affecting available truck capacity, causing freight rates to soar and growers to scramble for capacity. Interstate Transport’s Tim Higham explores the challenges many growers are facing. For those growers reaching into the common carrier pool this year, in order to move material to customers they are finding trucks impossible to find–at any price in some regions. A perfect storm of issues are just beginning to show their effect on available truck capacity, causing freight rates to soar and growers to scramble for capacity. This week, I have been inundated with calls from growers nationwide looking for help. One grower, who did not want to be named, stated: “I have loads sitting on the dock for days while we look for trucks. I am at the point where I will pay anything to service the customer or I will lose them. The problem is that […]
March 17, 2011
Minimizing Freight Claim Headaches
As a grower, you know it can take months or even years to produce a finished product. You put tireless hours, hard-earned money and personal pride into growing products that please your clients. And how unpleasant it is when you get that phone call from one of them reporting a claim on those products. You want nothing more than to make sure your client is happy, yet you know you must minimize your out-of-pocket costs, especially when it comes to claims. The question is then: How do you mitigate most of these claims up front and handle them professionally when they do occur? The answer is to have a claims process in place before you ever load your product on a truck. The two basic components of that process are communication and documentation. If you use your own drivers and local delivery trucks, you have much more control over the […]
September 28, 2010
If you think your distribution costs are high now, just wait until new government regulations become effective later this year! What? You didn’t hear? I love the free market. I love it when barriers to enter a market are low, and the most cost-savvy companies offer the most competitive rates. Competition in the marketplace goes a long way toward keeping the prices of goods and services contained. When the free enterprise system is allowed to operate with minimal interference, consumers benefit. Unfortunately, government regulations will soon be imposed that may constrain the free market that most of us hold dear. The regulations may eliminate much of the competition that keeps trucking healthy. The issue at hand is the government’s desire to place new standards on truck drivers and trucking companies. While safety is important to all of us in the industry, the regulations may have some unintended economic effects on […]
November 30, 2009
Cutting Transportation Costs To The Bone
As I have written here many times over the years, transportation and distribution are among your greatest costs. Any cost decrease has an immediate effect on your bottom line, so cutting costs is a compelling proposition that translates to more money – right away! I have heard from many growers over the years who have followed the advice in my columns, and they have had great success. What I don’t understand is why more growers don’t implement these cost-cutting measures. If growers would merely simplify the fundamental elements of their businesses, they would not only stop wasting money but could focus their time on growing. So, here is your chance to cut your transportation costs to the bone. These four things will immediately slice at least 20 percent off your entire distribution costs. Bid Your Freight Today The available truck capacity in the market is greater than ever. Freight volumes […]
January 18, 2017
Upcoming Seminars to Focus on Managing the Greenhouse E…
The seminars, which will also be accessible online, are presented by the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center.
January 17, 2017
Two Major Growers Recovering and Rebuilding After Fires
The blazes occurred at Dan Schantz Farm and Greenhouses in Zionsville, PA, and Spring Meadow Nursery in Grand Haven, MI. Both companies say no employees were injured, and they plan to pull together and stay on schedule for the remainder of the year.
January 17, 2017
Dallas Johnson Greenhouses Owner Passes Away at 78
Dallas G. Johnson, who started the company in 1985, is survived by his wife, Kay, and two children.
January 17, 2017
Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…
Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.
January 17, 2017
Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…
The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.
January 17, 2017
Stephanie Whitehouse Takes Her Passion for Plants to Di…
Stephanie Whitehouse, who has spent the last seven years as the Sales and Marketing Director for Peace Tree Farm in Kintnersville, PA, recently joined Dickman Farms Greenhouse and Garden Center in Auburn, NY, as the company’s new Retail General Manager.
January 13, 2017
We Must Help Heal Our Nation, with Plants and Flowers […
No matter how you may feel — personally or professionally — about the outcome of the election, it’s likely that you realize our nation has some healing to do.
January 12, 2017
Prevention and Early Intervention: The Keys to Biocont…
Advance preparation and starting out right helps you implement an effective biocontrol program that reduces pest pressure.
January 11, 2017
New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…
Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.
January 10, 2017
Sidney B. Meadows Scholarship Endowment Fund Accepting …
The deadline for applications is May 26, and 12 scholarships of $1,500 each will be awarded at the SEGreen Conference in August.
January 10, 2017
Pest Management Workshop to Take Place in Virginia on J…
Battlefield Farms will host the workshop, which is being coordinated by Virginia Cooperative Extension and will focus on new techniques in disease and insect control.
January 10, 2017
Greenhouse Grower Quadcopter Sweepstakes Winner Announc…
Anne Bolser of Van Wingerden International was the Grand Prize Winner in Greenhouse Grower magazine’s recent Quadcopter Sweepstakes.
January 8, 2017
Sakata’s Participation in Tour de Fresh Race Results in…
On the heels of riding in the Tour de Fresh Race in July, Allen Satterlee of Sakata Seed America celebrated by presenting a new salad bar to Galt Elementary School in California.
January 6, 2017
Griffin Opening New Hard-Goods-Focused Distribution Cen…
The planned February opening of the 18,500 square-foot facility is part of the company’s continued expansion into the Western U.S.