As anyone in this industry knows, the grocery supply chain has been stretched to its maximum. Retailers are scrambling to keep shelves full amidst unprecedented demand that has pushed average industry sales up by 60%. Meanwhile, the threat of Covid 19 is everywhere and all it takes is one infected person to shut down a store or warehouse throwing even more strain on the supply chain.
This is one of the everyday realities that Kyle Leslie, VP Sales & Marketing/Owner of Star Marketing in Surrey, B.C. deals with. The company is a buy/sell distributor with DSD service and Leslie has never been busier in his life. He brings 24 years of industry experience, currently managing the Save On Foods account and acts as a Brand Manager for many of Star Marketing’s principals. But these days he is spending his time in the warehouse with steel-toes boots and a safety vest.
“Right now, retail warehouses have been getting slammed. The system is clogged. As a DSD distributor, we can be a lifeline to ensure the timely delivery of our products. The stores are relying on us as never before.”
Star had the choice to try hiring more warehouse staff to handle the unprecedented increase in demand but realized there were pitfalls to this that could jeopardize the whole enterprise. So, Kyle and his fellow managers rolled up their sleeves and got to work helping existing staff to pick orders and get them ready for shipment.
“It all started on March 16th and we realized we would have to pivot very quickly. At that point it was ‘all hands-on deck’”.
At the same time, they had to ensure that they were following the strictest sanitary procedures to avoid a contamination. “We made sure all staff had masks, gloves and portable sanitizer. All equipment had to be sanitized twice daily.”
Added to this has been a dramatic increase in transportation costs all while the Canadian dollar has slipped relative to the U.S. dollar, putting even more stress on the distributor. “Under the circumstances, where our transport providers would carry a load down to California and then return with our products, now they more than often have to go down with no load which doubles our cost”.
But whatever challenges Star Marketing may be facing, Leslie would like all those on both the retail and distribution side to know how thankful they are for everyone’s efforts.
“Not all superheroes wear capes”.