Shipping 101: The Challenges of Old Man Winter

mike gallagherPost written by Mike Gallagher, Sales Coordinator

I’m a true believer of the four seasons in weather. There’s an old saying we’ve all heard before:

“If you don’t like the weather currently, stay around a few hours because it will change.”  

At Durvet, we deal with the change of seasons in our business. The weather, winter or summer, dictates whether we can ship products out of our warehouse to the distributors’ warehouses. Right now, we’re in the extreme part of the year and dealing with colder temperatures.

As I researched information for this post, I tapped into the vast knowledge of Bobby Bowers, Durvet’s Warehouse Manager. A big part of Bobby’s job each and every day is to make the decision to ship out our freight and keep it in good selling condition for our distributors.

You see, when you ship products out during the winter months of December, January and February, you’re betting against the odds that the shipment will arrive at the distributor’s destination in excellent condition. Many of the products Durvet sells are liquid products that can’t be exposed to temperatures below freezing for long periods of time.

Durvet sells to 22 different distributor members who are located from Albany, Oregon to Hershey, Pennsylvania and many points in between.  When the temperature in Blue Springs, Missouri is 40⁰, Bobby has to look at the terminals of where this freight may be laid over and then the temperature of the final destination (let’s say Fargo, North Dakota, as an example).

In addition to that, many of the less-than truck load terminals on the way to Fargo don’t have heated rooms so the overnight layover could be exposed to extreme cold.

winterThe question was asked of Bobby about choosing a heated truck to pick up the freight from our dock and move it on to our distributor. There are two issues that surround that theory.

First, heated couriers are extremely difficult to hire this time of year because of the shortage of carriers with heated trucks. Second, of those freight companies that have heated carriers, many don’t want to agree to a shipment that isn’t a full truck load. Because 95% of Durvet’s loads going out are less-than truck load shipments, this limits our options with the heated carriers.

In addition, freight carriers don’t want to be held responsible for damaging our freight if the temperatures allow for freezing the liquids.  Therefore, there are times Durvet would choose to send out a shipment to our members hoping that the product will get to its destination intact, and in good condition, but the freight companies refuse to pick up that day because they don’t want to take the risk.

In the case of our vaccines being shipped out, there is less risk. The vaccines are shipped in thick styrofoam boxes, which gives the vaccines a great deal of protection from the outside elements.

In addition, we have a policy of shipping these vaccines second-day air, ensuring they arrive at their destination in the same week they leave Durvet.

In summary, our goal has always been to get shipments to our distributor members within 24 hours of receiving their orders. However, our second goal is to take into consideration the weather conditions standing in the way of that shipment getting out, and to make every effort to make sure it gets to the target warehouse in excellent condition.