Castellini Group of Companies' Brian Kocher Shares Transportation Insights
CINCINATTI, OH - Throughout the month of June, United Fresh hosted multiple sessions that addressed key issues within the supply chain. One such issue was transportation, and the discussion surrounding what needs to be done as we look at innovative solutions for future challenges. One of the speakers, Brian Kocher, President and Chief Executive Officer of Castellini Group of Companies, spoke with me regarding the transportation landscape.
“With the current global shipping market, containers and vessels are out of balance in certain geographies, and that's putting pressure on even the domestic transportation market in truck rates. So, that certainly is a challenge,” Brian began. “I think when you look at the broader economic challenges we see pressure from a continually shrinking driver pool, as well as a supply chain that demands flexibility.”
Castellini itself is constantly working on providing multiple nodes or distribution point centers so that, if one aspect of the supply chain shuts down, you have redundancy and can switch to another. Brian also noted that different operators, such as ghost kitchens, have different supply chain needs, which means that as an industry, we need to adapt and adjust to multiple demands.
“We’ve invested heavily in technology to make sure that we immediately have access to data. Castellini is dealing with tens of thousands of pallets a week, so we can’t just walk into a warehouse and demand to know where one pallet is,” Brian remarked.
As part of its technology platform, Castellini has the manage complete warehouse and delivery programs for a customer’s entire inventory—a must when delivering fresh produce is on the line.
“Castellini is built for variability,” Brian asserted. “We have a large portion of outbound distribution delivered via own driver network, but we supplement that with dedicated carriers for certain routes, and we supplement that further with brokered loads. We try to build our transportation network so that we can handle 90–95 percent of the variation in the produce supply chain. If a costs a little bit extra in the moment, it’s a more cost-effective solution for the long run.”
Throughout the United Fresh discussion, flexibility could not be emphasized enough. As Brian concluded, the more flexibility you have as a company, the more likely you’re going to withstand variation at market.