The story of Frios Gourmet Pops began much the same way many entrepreneurial success stories do, with one guy's grand idea. In this case, the guy was Andy Harp, a former IT specialist who saw an opportunity to fill a void in the frozen-treats market. In 2013, he began selling hand-made organic popsicles from a pushcart on the streets of downtown Gadsden, Ala. Things took off from there. Today, the company operates more than 30 franchise store locations throughout the U.S. and offers more than 50 ice pop flavors, including muscadine, spicy pineapple, and orange basil.
The pops are still hand made today at the company's central production facility in Gadsden, which then ships them to franchise locations. But getting the temperature-sensitive freight to stores in good condition wasn't always easy. For several years, Frios shipped its pops via parcel service, using foam containers packed with dry ice. That worked well enough for short-haul moves, but the company found this method wasn't always dependable for long journeys. For one thing, the foam coolers were susceptible to damage during transit, which compromised their ability to keep the pops, well, cold as ice.
There were other drawbacks as well. Using dry ice was proving expensive. And the foam coolers Frios was using are not easily recycled or repurposed after use, which was a definite minus from a sustainability perspective.
In an effort to lick its shipping problem, Frios enlisted the aid of Cookeville, Tenn.-based transportation and supply chain services specialist Averitt Express. After reviewing the situation, Averitt's specialized services team recommended that Frios switch from parcel service to Averitt's climate-controlled less-than-truckload (LTL) offering. Designed for sensitive cargo, the service makes use of specially designed self-powered temperature-controlled shipping units. According to Averitt, the units maintain a specific temperature within a single degree (±1° Celsius), hold a payload of up to 1,900 pounds, and run on a battery that can last for up to five days.
Today, when products are ready for shipping, Frios loads them into a pallet-sized container that Averitt picks up from company headquarters. The full unit then travels throughout the Averitt distribution network for multiple-store deliveries—a process that's supported by around-the-clock monitoring by Averitt's specialized services team. At the end of the trip, Frios receives a detailed report showing temperatures inside and outside the unit, GPS locations during transit, and more.
As for how it's all working out, Frios has nothing but praise for the new system. Since the company began using the Averitt service, it has seen a reduction in damage, minimized its spending on dry ice and coolers, and seen the amount of time employees spent packaging the ice pops drop by 75 percent.
Overall, the partnership has meant Harp and his team can spend less time worrying about the logistics of doing business and more time focusing on growth and customer service. "They've been completely customer-focused, everywhere from the sales process to the on-site folks that we've dealt with," Harp said in a statement. "That is something that we have not had from any other carrier."