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Logistics prep kept supply chain moving through Northeastern storm

“There’s never a good time for a winter storm,” says Seth Gottlieb, the SVP of logistics at Baldor Specialty Foods in Bronx, New York. “However the day before Valentine’s Day—one of the busiest days for our restaurant customers—definitely presented unique challenges.”

Gottlieb is referring to Tuesday’s snowstorm and rains in New York, New Jersey and other parts of the Northeast, which brought as much as 15 inches of snow in some places--the type of snow the region hadn’t seen in two years.

Via reports from produce shippers in the region, produce shipments weren’t necessarily impacted and made their way through to their destinations. “As soon as there is word of a storm, we follow a protocol of monitoring state announcements on road closures and weather forecasts to ensure we can deliver safely,” says Gottlieb. “We layer in our area knowledge of roads and previous conditions. We also ensure we have tight communication flows with drivers, which gives us confidence to service our customers through these storms.”

At Exp. Group LLC based in North Bergen, New Jersey, Anthony Serafino says Tuesday was challenging in the sense that it’s been a while since the region saw serious snow accumulation. “We had to remind our staff that we didn’t deal with this for two seasons because in New York that was the first serious accumulation of snowfall in 700+ days,” he says.


Keeping shelves stocked
That meant navigating road closures but also port closures thanks to road conditions but also winds. “Road closures can delay deliveries. We try to ship ahead and encourage our clientele to order a little bit ahead,” he says. “Retailers are very understanding but the most important goal for them is having their shelves stocked. There’s no worse P. R. for a supermarket or retailer than an empty shelf.” He also adds that there was even less room for delay this week given Monday’s federal holiday in the U.S.

Much is this relied on learnings from the pandemic which had seen numerous supply chain challenges over its course. “The pandemic taught us that the supply chain is so fragile. It also taught us that preparation is the most important thing in our industry,” he says, noting its logistics team as well as heavily monitoring the weather to navigate those port and road closures.

Planning ahead was also the theme at S. Katzman Produce, also based in Bronx, New York. “We faced some challenges in the supply chain with the storm, but we planned the best we could to make sure our customers did not feel those gaps,” says Stefanie Katzman, executive vice president. “We loaded extra product to arrive early before the storm in anticipation of delays. We had some trucks and trains that were held up in transit, but we were still able to take care of our customers.”

Katzman notes that on the outbound side, it was lucky with most of its local deliveries because New York City did not get that much snow and it didn’t stick on the streets. “For customers further north and west, we ran into road closures and snowy roads, but we were still able to make all of our deliveries. Things were cleaned up quickly and within 24 hours were back to 'normal.'"

For more information:
Seth Gottlieb
Baldor Specialty Foods

Anthony Serafino
Exp. Group LLC

Stefanie Katzman
S. Katzman Produce