Hard to believe, but the manufacturer of those colorful Jelly Belly candies that brighten many an Easter Basket this time of year have found a better way to distribute their goods than by relying on a bunny. The privately held $200 million confectioner has developed a sophisticated distribution system run out of a DC in Fairfield, Calif., to ship millions of jelly beans around the world daily, using a mix of less-than-container load (LCL), truckload, less-than-truckload (LTL) and parcel service.
Just a few years back, the company was trying to manage inventory out of two DCs, the Fairfield facility and one in Wisconsin, to which it shipped goods intended for distribution in the East by long-haul trucker. Though that kept transit costs down, the strategy had plenty of drawbacks. "It was unbelievably difficult to manage inventory out of two sites," explains Dave Moody, director of distribution for Jelly Belly in Fairfield. "Safety stock was growing.
We had a lot of problems getting shipments to the right location." Costs rose as the company struggled to avoid fines imposed by national chains for missed or late deliveries. "We were air-freighting pallets to avoid chargebacks,"Moody recalls.
But today managers are savoring the sweet taste of success. Jelly Belly has begun handling all of its major seasonal shipping and its shipping to national accounts from the Fairfield facility, where most of the manufacturing is also done. As a result, inventories have been consolidated, costs have dropped and service has improved.
A big part of that success is a sweet deal Jelly Belly has with Roadway Express.Moody contracts with Roadway to handle the facility's LTL shipping, which amounts to 300 to 400 pallets a week. Today, workers at the Fairfield DC load pallets into trailers spotted by Roadway. Roadway then sorts the pallets at its hub for delivery across its national network. "It's been really effective," Moody says. Though he concedes that the move has added some transit time to deliveries in the East, he says that's been a small price to pay. "Today," Moody says, "we're not running out of inventory and shorting orders."