food and beverage

Cargo theft can cost thousands or even millions of dollars per load, and food and beverages are among the most targeted commodities across the United States and Canada. That is followed by household goods, vehicles and accessories, and pharmaceutical and medical products, according to the latest figures from CargoNet, a theft prevention and recovery network. CargoNet said the cost associated with stolen cargo was just over $60 million in 2021.

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Maximizing space within a warehouse and positioning items to improve efficiency can add up to significant financial and time savings. The layout and design of a warehouse and a distribution network should be an ongoing process. Shippers can improve their food warehousing and distribution with these six strategies:

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ATV Bakery

ATV Bakery, based in Reading, PA, has been in business for over seventy years, supplying customers with hearth-baked breads and rolls. Currently in its fourth generation of ownership, ATV bakes over 1,000 rolls a day. ATV's reputation for consistent quality and personalized customer service has allowed the company to grow to more than 40 employees and deliver over 30 products daily to customers throughout eastern and central Pennsylvania.

Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative (LFFC), a non-profit, organic farm cooperative comprised of 75 farmers in Lancaster, PA, depends on Penske trucks to maintain the proper refrigerated temperature while making deliveries. LFFC considers its relationship with Penske to be more than just a contract, but "an extended friendship; a business that has our back."

To-Jo Mushrooms

Mushrooms are highly perishable and need to be transported from farm to market quickly and efficiently. To-Jo is a family owned and operated company that grows and distributes a full line of fresh and prepared mushrooms for supermarkets and food distributors. They harvest and deliver products daily with freshness and quality.

Victory Brewing Company

Victory Brewing knows that beer tastes better when it's fresh. Victory specializes in creating craft beers that are distributed across the U.S. and in countries around the world. Penske helps companies like Victory Brewing drive fleet efficiency, minimize operating costs and maximize truck fleet up-time all while ensuring its products get to market safely and efficiently.

Within the cold chain, every degree counts, and maintaining temperatures can get challenging as summer temperatures rise. That is especially true in areas with hot climates, such as Arizona, Florida and Texas. Penske Logistics and Penske Truck Leasing work together to help meet the needs of leasing and logistics customers.

"The combined strengths of Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics allow us to really compete in the market with high quality and grow the business," said Tom Scollard, vice president of dedicated contract carriage for Penske Logistics.

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The refrigeration units on trailers keep products cold to ensure quality and safety, but the equipment can be more demanding than its dry van equivalent. Maintaining the units is the key to success.

“We service reefer trailers more often than dry vans,” said Mike Hasinec, vice president of maintenance for Penske Truck Leasing, adding that the refrigeration units, as well as the insulation on the trailer, should be checked periodically.

In addition, refrigeration trailers can have more demanding applications with multiple stops. “Typically in those applications, the doors are used more often, and there are liftgates that are used regularly, especially if it is a multi-temp unit that delivers to the food joints and c-stores of the world,” Hasinec said. “The application is harder on the equipment.”

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This current customer – one of the largest produce distributors and fresh-cut processors serving the Southwest region – relies on its equipment to get products where they need to be, when they need to be there. For the company's Chief Financial Officer (CFO), reliability is key. "We're dealing with a perishable commodity," he says. "I need my trucks to run 99.9% of the time."

He turned to Penske Truck Leasing to help him manage his fleet. "I look at Penske as a solution," he said. "The reliability and the consistency; that is the biggest value that I see."

At first, he was reluctant to lease, but quickly realized it allowed him to focus on the core aspects of the business. "I want my team focused on buying the right product and having the right inventory and not on maintaining trucks," he said. "Internal operations is our focus, and that is the value of having the lease take care of the transportation-related headaches. I'm not a trucking company, I'm a wholesale produce distributor. You want the crucial thinking in your business to be focused on what makes the company money."

Utilizing leases has helped the company reduce a number of risks and given the company's CFO increased flexibility.

Increase Equipment Uptime

The number one goal of operations is to fulfill the obligations to the customer, which means equipment uptime is crucial. "When a truck fails we irritate our customer. If I fail enough, I'm going to lose business and lose accounts," the company's CFO said, adding that regular maintenance increases the uptime, and if a truck needs a longer repair or fails in the field, Penske provides a replacement vehicle. "I just stress to whoever I'm talking to at Penske: I don't care how you get it done, just get it here and ready to run."

Spec the Right Equipment

The company's CFO said he finds value in the expertise of Penske to spec the right equipment to get the job done for his company. "I know that they know what I'm doing with the equipment and they're not going to go and spec 500 tractors that are completely wrong."

Remain Flexible

Several years ago the company's CFO realized he had the wrong truck for a new customer who was located at the top of a big hill. "If you have an underpowered truck, you're killing the truck trying to run it uphill. We got rid of the truck and replaced it," he said, adding that he has found it easy to work with Penske to get the exact equipment he needs.

Improve Agility

Leasing is a flexible alternative for the company's CFO. "If your needs change, [Penske] will work with you to try and have the right equipment. It's a phone call." That agility allows the company to pursue new opportunities without being bound by equipment.

Reduce Litigation Liability

Not maintaining equipment properly increases the amount of risk a company is exposed to, the company's CFO said. "In this day of everyone wanting to sue everyone for everything, if you don't have a full-service maintenance operation on your equipment, you're exposing yourself to huge litigation liabilities." With Penske Truck Leasing's full-service maintenance program, the company's CFO now has a record of when certain items were serviced or replaced. "When you have a third party doing it and it is documented, you have something to fall back on."

Reduce In-House Liability

Having a third party manage maintenance also reduces the liability an on-site maintenance facility carries with it. "My alternative is to build a shop and hire the guys; that is a lot of additional liability, particularly with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues you have to deal with if you're conducting your own maintenance on your property."

Retain Drivers

New, well-maintained equipment helps the company attract and retain quality drivers. "The right people value driving a relatively new unit that is in good shape and that they know is maintained," the company's CFO said. "When my transportation manager interviews guys and when they have their initial onboarding and training, they are impressed. The wrong guys don't care."

Support the Brand

The chefs and restaurants the company serves expect top-quality products that are handled carefully and safely. The company's CFO emphasized, "If you are going to be a top provider of high-quality food, then everything has to go along with it and the equipment is part of that."