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PhilaPort Special May 2022

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18 The Journal of Commerce | May 23 2022 PHILADELPHA TRADE & LOGISTICS addition two months after opening." The company strives to meet customer needs by creating economies of scale. It deploys a team approach with a positive mindset, which proved valuable in training and transferring staff to the New Jersey location. "It was seamless. New Jersey was up and running problem-free within a week," Manfredi said. The Manfredi Company can house and consolidate various import fruits and vegetables, often eliminating the need for a customer to go to multiple warehouses. The strategy is working, and the expansion continues. A current priority is the installation of citrus packing equipment. The company can currently put through more than 6,000 pallets per day, in both locations combined, but instead of racking and stacking to the rafters, Manfredi has taken a different approach. "Our buildings are low density, with easy access to every pallet. We don't stack high or deep. To get to anything requires a one-pallet move," he said. The low-density system allows for better air flow, keeping products fresher. "We've been doing this for 20 years. It enhances the quality of product. Our costs per pallet space are more, but the easy access helps keep labor costs low. Now there are many new boutique varieties [of food products] that require low- density storage," Manfredi said. His company is already able to meet that need. The Manfredi Company's campuses are wireless; warehouse equipment is outfitted with onboard computers directing employees where to go and pick. "We can load customers' trucks in real time. Every pallet is staged in our building. There is no need to call ahead. When a truck shows up, we can immediately load," Manfredi said. Some pandemic-inspired changes, such as truck loading procedures, actually increased throughput and velocity, with 30 percent more pallets now handled by a single person than two years ago. "Also, we are installing a second kiosk, so drivers don't have to come back to the office to get bills of lading. It will enable a driver to go to the exit, see the kiosk, scan the paperwork, and make copies of paperwork. The kiosk will save a driver 15 minutes to a half hour," he said, an appreciable amount of time in a time-sensitive industry. "The whole industry is about keeping moving." Michael Levari is owner and operator of Vineland, New Jersey's First Choice Freezer & Cold Storage. The company's flagship facility was built in 2001 and underwent three significant expansions — in 2007, 2014, and 2017. It now measures 300,000 square feet. The company's sister facility, called M&O Freezer & Cold Storage, opened in January 2019, with a first addition completed in January 2020, a second addition in October 2021, and a third under way now with completion expected in August. At that time the facility will reach 400,000 square feet, bringing the two-facility total to 700,000 square feet of primarily frozen (75 percent) and refrigerated space. First Choice offers blast freezing, which is in constant use due to constant demand. In addition to warehousing, the company also runs a fleet of 15 tractor trailers to better serve customers, Levari said, explaining that the reason the company has been able to expand every year for the last five years is superior customer service. "It is a family-run company, and we treat customers like family," Levari said. "We have been in business for a lot of years. We understand the silent needs and how to service them. We offer a personal touch." First Choice specializes in food products. Pandemic- and e-commerce-related growth have driven changes and opportunities for food supply chains. "Distribution centers have given a big lift to our industry. We aren't fulfilling local orders, but we ship out to DCs," Levari said. The company now provides freezer facilities for the meal-kit industry. Food service industries are subject to many regulations. For instance, First Choice is a member of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, adhering to its best practices and industry standards for safety, and is regularly inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and third-party entities to ensure it meets the strictest food safety standards. "We also have certified plans in place for every critical control point of our operation," Levari said. First Choice Freezer & Cold Storage and M&O Freezer & Cold Storage are part of a family business now represented by three generations of expertise in the agriculture transportation and warehousing industry. "We are proud of our level of service and what we've been able to accomplish" throughout the expansion, supply challenges, and the pandemic, Levari said. John Gaudet is vice president of business development for RLS Logistics, a cold chain third-party logistics provider (3PL) with a string of recent national expansions to its credit. RLS' cold storage in the greater Philadelphia area includes warehouses in Delanco, Vineland, and Newfield, New Jersey. The company offers "Throughout the pandemic, [the dedicated frontline workers] showed up — you can't work remotely on a forklift." Total tonnage is 7.1 million 36% 30% 13% 12% 4% 3% 2% Reefer containers Dry containers Liquid bulk Forest products Autos Steel Cocoa beans PhilaPort cargo commodity tonnage 2021 © 2022 IHS Markit Note: Container tonnage is 64 percent, compared to other commodity tonnage of 34 percent. Source: PhilaPort SPECIAL ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT

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