Inbound Logistics | March 2022

At the same time, BioCare focused on sourcing from multiple suppliers. When the cost of a material or supply is negligible, sourcing from only one supplier to capture volume discounts can leave an organization vulnerable to shortages and delays, Kirk notes. Also key was leveraging the experience of BioCare’s entire team, some of whom came from other industries and brought new contacts and insight to solve these challenges. “Don’t take supply chain people for granted,” Kirk advises. One decision that proved fortuitous for North American Meats & More, particularly over the past few years, was to truly partner with Silver Fern Farms, a producer and exporter of grass-fed meat based in New Zealand. Together, the two companies improved the butchery and distribution processes, boosting yields of various cuts of meat by between about one-quarter and one-third. That’s key, given the price pressures bearing down on many restaurants. North American Meats also regularly travels to New Zealand and has worked with Silver Fern to help them provide ready-to-portion cuts. These produce less waste and require less labor in the kitchen. This has been signicant, particularly recently, as many restaurants struggle to attract workers, often paying higher salaries for individuals with little experience. “Working with them on fabrication and butchery has been powerful,” says owner Justin Marx. And as shipping delays intensied, Silver Fern, possibly working with other companies, began chartering ships from New Zealand to the United States. That helps ensure North American Meats can ll its clients’ orders on time. “Logistics involves physical constraints— trucks, containers, warehouses, time and space,” Marx says. “Often overlooked are the communication and relationships that take time to build and that you can lean on in difcult times.” n

To ensure growth continued through the pandemic, technology-driven e-commerce company developed strategic relationships with a range of partners, including its ocean carriers.

a locked rate, and then placed funds in escrow to hold it. “Looking back, it was one of the best investments we made,” Liu says, as it went into effect about the time the pandemic hit, offering secured space while other companies struggled to nd capacity. Liu also worked with some of’s smaller vendors who were having trouble getting shipments from Asia. Instead of “pounding on them,” Liu says, she worked directly with these suppliers’ Asian operations, and then used its carrier partnerships to move items to the United States more quickly than many other companies could. To further connect with vendors in Asia, Lui traveled to Taiwan for several months. After quarantining for two weeks, she was able to visit vendors and engage with them face-to-face. “It was key to keeping strong relationships,” she says.

will be transported must complete an extensive validation process, says Andrew Kirk, chief revenue ofcer. In spring 2021, a supplier of lining material was unable to source material, which delayed its shipment of liners to BioCare. The reason? The Ever Given ship blocking the Suez Canal. BioCare’s warehouse manager went to work, contacting multiple vendors until locating a suitable replacement made from the same materials. Instead of insisting on its full order right away, BioCare communicated its exact shipping needs. The supplier was able to send one-third of the original order, which was enough to last until the remainder arrived. “The important takeaway was to share honest, realistic needs so we could manage through the problem,” Kirk says. BioCare also leased an inexpensive shipping container to store supplies, such as packaging materials, on its premises without eating into valuable warehouse space. As they met these challenges, Kirk and his team learned several lessons. When validating packaging, it’s critical to consider the availability of related supplies, including inexpensive materials such as liners. They also worked even more diligently to maintain strong relationships and communicate with suppliers on all items.

Even when a company can access raw materials and components, it can be hamstrung by a shortage in packaging. Just ask BioCareSD, a specialty distributor of life-saving medications that often require refrigeration. Before any products are shipped, the packaging and liners in which they

54 Inbound Logistics • March 2022

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