by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Moving the Needle

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

Staying on course is an accomplishment for virtually any business during a pandemic. Still, it’s not a time to set aside laying the groundwork for improved post-COVID operations. Our annual Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey, for example, went out as planned to our customers last month, the results of which help benchmark and guide our continuous improvement initiative. Our simple two question questionnaire is sent to everyone in a customer organization, asking them on a scale of 0 to 10 would they recommend Hanson Logistics to a friend. NPS is an important score in measuring year-over-year our customers’ experience, allowing us to assess how well (not so well) we’re meeting our customers’ expectations. 

Respondents are grouped by the following:

  • Promoters (score 9-10) are loyal enthusiasts who will keep buying and refer others, fueling growth.
  • Passives (score 7-8) are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who may be vulnerable to competitive offerings.
  • Detractors (score 0-6) are unhappy customers who can impede growth through negative word-of-mouth.

This year, we were pleasantly surprised by the level of engagement and the excellent feedback from our customers. Our score confirmed that incremental, front line improvements suggested by customers and implemented by Hanson Teammates are having a positive impact on the Hanson customer experience. Yes, we have a few detractors; we view their input as an opportunity to zero in on their feedback and improve our service accordingly.

In statistical terms, our 2020 NPS improved significantly, up 20% from last year. This dramatic improvement was achieved not only in our traditional warehousing and transportation, but also in our newer service lines, such as frozen food ecommerce and single inventory national distribution. What’s more, our customers voted Hanson Logistics in the higher percentile for service levels during COVID, when the frozen food supply was reeling from rollercoaster changes in demand, and we all were working – and continue to work — under strict safety protocols.

Hanson Logistics Teammates deserve all the credit for not only making things happen, but making things happen better. 

Yes We Can!

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Rising to the Challenge

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

History will look back at this period as a time when farmers and ranchers, processors, distributors, truckers and grocery staff came together like never before with the unified purpose of keeping America fed. It’s a remarkable story of service beyond self during one of, if not the most challenging times the world has ever endured.

With gratitude to all on the front lines, I express my personal appreciation to the unwavering commitment of all Hanson Teammates for their important role in staying the course. Their resolve, their ability to rise to the challenge is a test that every Hanson Teammate is passing with flying colors. We are Hanson Strong.

Consumers are buying frozen foods at record levels. Frozen pizza, ice cream and frozen novelties are all seeing increases from 20% to nearly 60% compared to last year. Cookie dough shot up a record 439% in April, according to COVID-tracking articles in Refrigerated & Frozen Foods.

Another study, this one conducted by the American Frozen Food Institute, shows that after a 94% surge in March, frozen food sales are continuing to see 30% to 35% increases in April 2020 versus a year ago. The survey also found that Gen Z consumers and high-earning millennial households with children, who were previously not big frozen food buyers, increased their buying of frozen products substantially during in the past month.

This combined result of closed restaurants, stay-at-home orders, stockpiling and the increased need for comfort food has created higher volume throughput in Hanson Logistics facilities. We’ve increased our capacity to meet the greater demand, but it’s our Hanson Teammates that are making it happen. The eye on food safety never blinks. Increased volume requires more hours on the job and more diligence in keeping it all moving.

Yes, We are Hanson Strong; watch the below video and see for yourself. Thank you Hanson Teammates!

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Reasons to Bundle Transportation and Warehousing with One Provider

5 Reasons to Bundle Transportation and Warehousing with One Provider

Siloed logistics approaches don’t work in today’s cold chain shipping environment. Here’s how to centralize those functions and get back to doing what you do best.

With organizational silos rapidly giving way to more open and collaborative business styles, being able to “flatten out” the logistics function and bundle multiple services with a single provider is becoming more and more important.

“For both small and large transit companies, maintaining multiple locations or expanding into new markets involves lots of variables,” FleetOwner reports. “Exploring costs and service-bundling options could mean greater efficiencies and money saved—and a better chance of success.”

Here’s how cold chain shippers can benefit from bundling:

  1. Focus on your core competencies. No more running around, trying to oversee and micromanage multiple providers and getting them to “talk” to one another. When it’s all under one roof, your central transportation, warehousing, and logistics provider will handle it all for you and allow you to focus on what you do best: supply customers with refrigerated and frozen goods.
  2. Use your provider’s infrastructure to save time and money. Delegating multiple company functions—such as warehousing and distributing—to a single service provider can result in significant time and cost savings. “Bundling these services together with one provider serves to reduce the resources required for oversight as well as provides for economies of scale,” FleetOwner notes, “as a transportation and distribution provider can often utilize their infrastructure and purchasing power to reduce distribution and fleet cost.”
  3. Have a single point of contact. Bundling logistics services with a single provider means you need only make one phone call, send one email, or schedule one meeting to get everything you need. Because this provider will serve as your focal point, you’ll avoid the wasted time, effort, and cost associated with tracking down multiple providers to get your questions answered or problems solved.
  4. Get consistent results. If you’ve historically used multiple providers for your cold chain transportation and warehousing needs, then you probably understand pains like inconsistent service levels, fluctuating rates, and unpredictable outcomes. By bundling these services with a single provider, you can avoid these uncertainties and focus on getting consistent results from one business partner.
  5. Create a win-win partnership. When companies skip around from supplier to supplier, they never really get the chance to create true, lasting partnerships with those providers. By putting the time and effort into working with one logistics provider, companies can create win-win collaborations that can help them shepherd their cold chains through even the toughest logistics environments (i.e., the current driver shortage and capacity crunches).

Demand for next-day delivery, the driver shortage, and rising transportation rates are all pushing cold chain distributors to find ways to work smarter, better, and faster in today’s transportation environment. In their quest to manage more volume and deal with more complex customer demands than they’ve ever faced in the past, more shippers are bundling fulfillment, warehousing, and shipping with single providers that can meet all of their current needs while also helping them prepare for the future.

To improve your cold chain shipping efficiency, contact us today to learn how Hanson can help.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

5 Reasons to Use Continuous Improvement in Logistics

5 Reasons to Use Continuous Improvement in Logistics

Cold chain shippers can gain efficiencies and save money by paying closer attention to the art of continuous improvement.

Whether a shipper wants to save money on transportation, lower employee turnover, develop more competitive products, improve customer service, or operate at a higher level of efficiency—or, all of the above—the path to getting there usually includes at least some type of continuous improvement.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Continuous improvement helps improve employee engagement. Also called operational excellence, lean transformation, Kaizen, or any other number of names, the act of continually honing and perfecting a company’s operations has become an imperative in today’s business environment. For example, it’s a particularly good tool for improving employee engagement. “At its core, continuous improvement is designed to empower employees to solve problems that bug them and gradually improve the efficiency of their work processes. Lean lets employees know that their ideas are important,” Nawras Skhmot points out in 5 Benefits of Continuous Improvement. “When an employee makes a suggestion for improvement, the idea can be carefully tested; and if successfully implemented company-wide. This changes the employee’s role and responsibilities from being a passive actor to being an active participant in the business processes.”

2. It drives waste out of costly processes. Commonly known as Kaizen, continuous improvement is defined as “a method for identifying opportunities for streamlining work and reducing waste.” Formalized by the popularity of lean/agile/Kaizen in manufacturing and business, continuous improvement helps companies identify cost-saving opportunities and work better, smarter, and faster.

3. Your competitors are probably already doing it. Facing steep competition, pricing pressures, a tight labor market, and various other challenges, companies that don’t continually step up their games often find themselves left in the dust and scrambling to catch up to their competitors. “While there are numerous ways in which businesses can compete, logistics ranks high among them. Improving logistics to a point and then taking a passive approach to the system allows competitors to gain advantages in terms of cost savings, improved quality, and production capacity,” Dennis Hartman writes in Why Is Continuous Improvement in Logistics Important? “Even incremental improvements in logistics can translate into significant savings over time and lay the foundation for further improvements in the future.”

4. The benefits of continuous improvement are well documented and immediate. For shippers, improvement opportunities not only within their own operations, but also across their logistics operations, transportation networks, and end-to-end supply chains. In fact, by taking an all-encompassing, supply chain-wide view on continuous improvements, companies can see significant benefits from their efforts, including improved productivity, lower costs, decreased delivery times, and other strategic gains.

5. If you’re not improving, you’re stagnating. Continuous improvement helps cold chain shippers enhance their processes and products in ways that traditional business approaches can’t match. “In the modern workplace, knowledge, and technology quickly becomes obsolete over time. If you are doing business in the same way that you did five or 10 years ago, your company will quickly go out of business,” Skhmot concludes. “Continuous improvement gives organizations a framework for reaching the next level of excellence.”

If you’re looking to gain efficiency and save money, contact us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

U.S. Growers Thrive as Consumers Load Up on Fruits and Veggies

Spring planting time is here and as the produce season kicks into full gear it looks as if 2018 will be another good year for the nation’s food growers. With consumer tastes continuing to tilt in the direction of fresher, local, and more wholesome meal options, the companies that supply fruits and vegetables are in high demand. According to Packaged Fact’s Fresh Produce: U.S. Market Trends and Opportunities report, consumers’ consumption of fresh produce grew steadily—albeit modestly at about 1.3%— between 2011 and 2016. Those moderate annual gains are expected to continue over the next several years through 2021. “Fruit and vegetable producers benefited from steady growth among the U.S. population, as well as from the fact that all age groups have high usage rates, especially Gen X adults,” says Packaged Facts’ David Sprinkle in a press release. “Fruits and vegetables are expected to continue experiencing growth in niche areas as consumers persist in seeking out novel flavors from around the world. Increases in disposable personal income will support purchases of premium fruits and vegetables, including non-GMO, organic, and locally grown types. Also, marketing strategies focusing on health and the delicious taste of fresh produce will help fruits and vegetables to expand their appeal and per capita consumption.”

Millennials Love Frozen Foods

Frozen foods are on a tear this year, and both fruit and vegetable growers are benefitting from consumers’ renewed interest in frozen options. Forty-three percent of Millennial shoppers said they have purchased more frozen foods this year than last year, according to a new report from Acosta. The frozen food revival also crosses generational lines, with 27% of GenXers, 19% of Baby Boomers, and 19% of the Silent Generation are also buying more frozen this year. Acosta attributes the growth to several industry trends, including:
  • Convenience drives prepared meals, and frozen meals enable consumers to have a stock of meals whenever they are out of time/ ideas/ fresh ingredients
  • Health and wellness – frozen food enables companies to offer longer shelf life without preservatives; textures are maintained without the use of artificial ingredients, and manufacturers are able to offer niche products at a better price point, including vegan options.
  • Better value for the money – hectic, unpredictable meal consumption leads to a staggering amount of food waste, and frozen food decreases the amount of food spoilage.
  • The rise of breakfast – with the search for new breakfast options, consumers are warming up to breakfast sandwiches and other frozen baked goods.

Nutritious and Natural Both Rank High

Right now, Food Industry Executive says grocery shopping preferences are “trending heavily toward nutritious, natural foods from transparent manufacturers that share their health goals.” Successful manufacturers are following suit, the publication reports, while convenient and healthy frozen options from restaurant-style appetizers to full dinners and desserts are “revitalizing the frozen food aisle, despite the common belief that fresh trumps frozen.” Packaged Facts points to the Green Giant brand as a good example of how frozen food marketers are getting back on track. The brand changed hands in November 2015, when B&G Foods purchased it from General Mills for $765 million and began breathing new life into the brand. In less than a year it was rolling out a series of new and innovative Green Giant frozen products, including veggie tots, a “kid-friendly, mom-approved alternative to potato tots and French fries that are filled with vegetables such as cauliflower or broccoli instead of potatoes; riced veggies, made from 100% vegetables and with no sauce or seasoning, are positioned as alternatives to traditional rice; and mashed cauliflower, an alternative to the typical potato side dish. “Since the acquisition of this iconic brand, we have been working tirelessly to meet consumer desire for new, delicious ways to incorporate more vegetables into their daily lives,” Robert Cantwell, chief executive officer of B&G Foods told Packaged Facts. “This consumer desire has inspired the creation of new Green Giant frozen innovations, as well as the brand’s modernized persona, with the intention of bringing back the Green Giant with a purpose — adding more vegetables to America’s plates.”

Addressing Logistics Challenges

As produce season heats up, both manufacturers and their logistics providers are keeping an eye on capacity, rates, regulatory changes, and other issues that could impact their supply chains. With U.S. crop volumes growing between May and July—and due to the time-sensitivity of such shipments—expect available frozen and refrigerated capacity to shrink and rates to rise accordingly. “Tight U.S. truck capacity and rising rates marked the first quarter of 2018, and the outlook for the remainder of the year is more of the same, if not worse,” JOC reports. “That is the dilemma for shippers of perishable goods, especially food, who are seeing growing demand from buyers, on the one hand, tempered by a capacity crunch on the other.”
by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

How the New Generation of “Fast Food” is Impacting Food Logistics

How the New Generation of “Fast Food” is Impacting Food Logistics

Much like Uber did to ground transportation and Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry, doorstep food delivery is disrupting the food supply chain with its promise of delivering everything from raw ingredients to hot-and-tasty dishes right to the consumers’ doorstep.

In a world where searching for ingredients, visiting a store for those goods, and then going home to cook meals is giving way to more immediate, on-demand options, the logistics industry has found itself in an interesting position.

And when consumers can get their favorite meals with the tap of a mobile phone, both cold chains and refrigerated warehouses must be able to adapt quickly to that level of order fulfillment.

“The cold chain industry is changing fast. Between the increased development and usage of temperature sensitive biologic pharmaceuticals and consumer preferences for convenient, fresh foods, the cold chain must adapt quickly,” Datex Corp., notes in its 2018 3PL Refrigerated Warehouse & Cold Chain Trends report.

The All-Powerful Consumer is in Charge

With more than 600 refrigerated warehouse operators across the U.S., the cold storage warehouse industry is dominated by the top 10 companies, which own 80% of the market. This trend is poised to continue, Datex reports, as the largest enterprises merge or acquire smaller cold storage warehouse operations.

Consumer power is a major factor dominating the cold chain, where convenience, wholesome food, and just-in-time delivery are converging and creating new supply chain challenges. The shift away from highly-processed foods with a long shelf life to temperature-sensitive perishable food products, for example, requires an adjustment in the food supply chain.

“Because consumers value convenience and fast delivery, there are added complications,” Datex notes. “From U.S. ports to distribution centers, 3PLs and privately-owned refrigerated warehouses, designing a cold chain that meets consumers’ needs can seem daunting.”

More fresh and chilled products are being ordered in smaller quantities and from a wider range of product choices, Datex adds, leading to a proliferation of new product development, product and packaging changes, and updates.

“The food and grocery industry is changing at breakneck speed, due to consumer buying habits and expectations,” Datex concludes. “The cold chain needs to change and must become as flexible and transparent as possible and that will take technology, forward-thinking business executives and investments in innovation.”

Feeling the Impacts

In Blue Apron and the Subscription Retail Supply Chain, Arc Advisory Group’s Chris Cunnane says consumers like the model for its sheer convenience. Suppliers, on the other hand, face some unprecedented challenges in the race to provide that convenience.

Ensuring that ingredients are kept fresh during the delivery process, for example, incorporates both storage and delivery. The last mile, warehousing expenses, and labor also present their own challenges for companies with these new food delivery models.

“With continued innovation, and more companies joining the subscription ranks, the market is poised to continue to put more control over the shopping experience in the hands of the customer,” Cunnane notes. “The big question is whether these companies have the supply chain to accommodate the change.”

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

Our Role in Exceptional Customer Experience

As many of you know, March is National Frozen Foods month. Thanks to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, Inc. (NFRA) for their recently launched promotional efforts on why frozen food continues to offer an excellent value with minimal waste. Their points are spot on:

  • A wide variety of single serve and small plate options – portion control at its best.
  • Requires little preparation – the picking, cleaning, slicing and dicing are already done.
  • Flash-freezing technology delivers “perfect preservation,” freezing at the peak of freshness, right from the field or sea.
  • Your favorite foods are always in season.
  • Eco-friendly packaging is keeping frozen foods fresher longer and retaining more nutrients.
  • New brands and product lines are aligned with current health trends.
  • No spoilage or food waste – use what you need and put the rest back in the freezer. Money-saving!

This impact is hitting home as well as the Hanson Logistics teammates gathered at the America Frozen Food Institue’s, AFFI Con 2018, where the enthusiasm for the future of the frozen foods industry is optimistic. That said, the vast majority of growth appears to be in developing countries, while the U.S. enjoys a modest uptick in frozen food sales.

Late last year, an Acosta 2017 Insights Report pointed to the fact that 43 percent of Millennials are shopping frozen more frequently. All generational demographics indicated an increase in frozen food purchases, including 43 percent of Millennials; 27 percent of GenXers; 19 percent of Baby Boomers; and 19 percent of Silents.

While we’re not involved in the development or marketing of frozen food products, we can — and do — make a contribution to the consumer’s experience. On time, in full delivery of freezer case ready appetizers, bakery, entrée, and dessert items is our task at hand. Providing our customers with supply chain transparency, Class A warehouse space, accurate picking, and refrigerated truck capacity as needed is a behind-the-scenes scenario unfamiliar to most. The majority of consumers grabbing a quick bite or serving dinner to friends and family don’t give much thought to the growers and processors, warehouse and customer service staff, and drivers who make it all happen.

At that’s OK. Just keep making your selection from the freezer case, and we’ll keep fulfilling our “Yes, We Can” promise. Thanks again to our friends at NFRA and AFFI for their role in making it all happen.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Ken Whah Joins Hanson Logistics as Chief Operating Officer

Ken Whah Joins Hanson Logistics as Chief Operating Officer

Ken Whah, Hanson LogisticsAndrew Janson, President and CEO, Hanson Logistics, announced today that Ken Whah has joined the third-party logistics company as Chief Operating Officer. This newly created position follows the retirement of Greg Hanson, with Andrew Janson appointed CEO as well as President.

Whah comes to Hanson Logistics from Whirlpool Corporation, where he was most recently the Director of North American Logistics Operations. In that role Whah oversaw more than 1,000 logistics associates and a network of 23 factory and regional distribution centers. Among many other achievements, Whah initiated multiple large scale infrastructure, system, and technology investments as strategic enablers.

“To say that we are excited to have Ken onboard is an understatement,” said Andrew Janson. “His tenure at Whirlpool Corporate was one of continuous improvement and strategic planning and execution. Ken is uniquely qualified to lead our operations at a time when Hanson Logistics is undergoing tremendous growth in customer volume, and an expanding service and technology offering. We look forward to his leadership of Hanson teammates and partner vendors.”

Whah will oversee the company’s warehousing, transportation and information technology operations, including Hanson’s flagship Velocities Multi-Vendor Consolidation program. Hanson Logistics is currently the 13th largest refrigerated warehouse network in the country, with 9 facilities in Michigan and Indiana and a total capacity of 39,000,000 cu. ft. of deep frozen, refrigerated and dry warehousing space. Additionally, Hanson Transportation Management Services operates a refrigerated truck fleet of “dedicated and over the road assets as well as a freight brokerage operation for dry and refrigerated freight.

Whah completed his undergraduate work at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business in both Engineering Science as well as a Masters in Engineering Science from Purdue University. He is a visiting professor of business at Indiana University and Purdue.

Whah reports to Andrew Janson, President & CEO, Hanson Logistics.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Hanson Logistics Announces Veteran & Military Spouse Hiring Commitment with Hiring Our Heroes and FASTPORT

Hanson Logistics Announces Veteran & Military Spouse Hiring Commitment with Hiring Our Heroes and FASTPORT

Hanson Logistics announced its commitment to hire veterans through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Trucking Track and a partnership with FASTPORT, Inc. to help fulfill that hiring commitment.

Hanson Logistics is the evolution of Hanson Cold Storage, founded in 1954 to support fruit and vegetable growers. Hanson Cold Storage grew to become the 13th largest refrigerated warehouse network in the country, with 9 facilities in Michigan and Indiana and a total capacity of 37,000,000 cu. ft. of deep frozen, refrigerated and dry warehousing space.

“The bedrock of Hanson Logistics is our motto “Yes, We Can!”, which we apply to everything we do,” said Andrew Janson, President and CEO of Hanson Logistics. “Military veterans, transitioning service members, members of the Guard and Reserve as well as military spouses carry that same work ethic and attitude. We are thrilled to provide careers and a professional environment where that mentality is recognized and rewarded. More than that, we are grateful to have persons with that can-do spirit as a Hanson teammate because we know they will help our business succeed.”

“We are thrilled Hanson Logistics has developed a military hiring strategy to recruit transitioning military veterans working in collaboration with FASTPORT,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes. “The trucking industry can benefit immensely from our country’s talented veterans, and we look forward to working together to help Hanson Logistics find and employ more veterans and transitioning service members.”

“We are honored to help Hanson Logistics connect the military community to their next careers, especially with incredible great entry-level and experienced opportunities such as professional truck driver, forklift driver, warehouse workers and refrigeration technicians,” said Brad Bentley, President of FASTPORT. “They value military talent and provide great career paths to allow military community members the opportunity to continue serving the country in a critical industry.”

About Hiring Our Heroes

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with a vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment. In March 2012, Hiring Our Heroes and Capital One launched Hiring 500,000 Heroes, a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire half a million veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. This milestone was achieved in June 2015 when 500,000 veteran and military spouse hires were confirmed.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy.

About FASTPORT

FASTPORT, Inc. is an employment software development company that builds products to help Veterans, members of the Guard and Reserve, transitioning service members and military spouses find meaningful employment. Using its proprietary technology, FASTPORT is committed to matching job seekers to employers actively hiring from the military community.

FASTPORT, Inc. is a Department of Labor Industry Intermediary to increase apprenticeship programs for civilian and Veteran talent and has a commercial co-venture with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program to develop the preeminent employment marketplace to connect employers and military candidates. For more information, visit fastport.com.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The Future of Cold Chain Logistics

The future of cold chain logistics is almost always in transition: from growth to slow-downs, modified trends to shifted needs from customers. After two considerably slow years for the industry in 2014 and 2015, shipping providers are eager to see a new era for logistics.

That new era might be closer than we think: the Council of Supply Chain Logistics released its 27th Annual State of Logistics Report and suggested a shift to a more sound logistics industry. The report documented the positive changes in the logistics market from last year. This showed providers it may be time to accommodate accordingly.

The Findings

In this year’s report, what began as lulls in traffic and a rise in costs for businesses has accelerated into a cost efficient system. This includes having services available in plenty, with agreeable pricing and rationalized demand. The report mentioned an increase in supply chain transparency as it continues to grow. Another highlight was technological changes for 3PLs, helping enable more efficient production of data to drivers and coordinators alike.

Interpretations

What does this mean for providers? An air of excitement looking forward into a stronger industry. This also infers more promising results as the next few months finish out the quarter.

Partner with us in the new era for cold chain logistics. At Hanson, no matter the change in industry, we are always saying “Yes, We Can!” to providing solutions and pursuing excellence.