BEHIND THE BOTTLE: Route Sales Team Delivers Quality Product And Service
It starts early in the morning – after all, the shelves must be stocked before the commuters wander into their local convenience store or the stay-at-home parent wrangles their kids through the grocery store aisles later that day.
Nearly 150 members of the Maola team work to fulfill orders on 85 routes a day in our direct store delivery (DSD) operation. These dedicated members of the team are the “last mile” between consumers and Maola products. The products are usually no more than 48 hours from having started on one of our local dairy farms.
“We’d really be missing an entire piece to the puzzle without our DSD group,” said Executive Vice President of Operations Todd Aarons. “They are the engine that keeps the operation running.”
Delivering Decades of Experience
Tracy Norris has been delivering fresh Maola milk for more than 22 years. His routes are based in the Fayetteville, North Carolina branch, one of ten central distribution locations that Maola owns and maintains.
“It’s tough work, but I enjoy being able to work independently,” he says. “If you can get along with people well, it makes for a great experience.”
Having a good relationship with people comes naturally to Tracy. On each of the stops he makes, he knows the manager of the store or kitchen supervisor of the daycare by name. This helps him build rapport, which in turn helps him be more efficient on his route.
For Tracy, efficiency also means speed. He’s halfway into the store before yours truly can even think about unbuckling his passenger seatbelt. Tracy’s rapport with customers also ensures accuracy as he works within the confines of different customer inventory management systems.
“Each stop has a different way of doing things,” he says. “Being able to know and work with the leadership at those stops gives Maola a personalized touch.”
That personalized touch is award-winning. Starbucks named Maola its top DSD unit across the United States and Canada in 2020. Our DSD unit filled 99.4% of orders for the chain and had the best percentage of follow-ups for the extremely limited complaints about our orders and quality.
Trucking Tasty Time-Sensitive Treats
The DSD service is just half the battle. The other half is the transportation team that hauls tractor trailers of product between our plants and the ten DSD locations, as well as our customer’s receiving and distribution facilities.
Maola puts around 100 trailers on the road each day to get product to various distribution facilities. This team is made up Maola employees as well as contractors who oversee the safe movement of product along the eastern seaboard.
“Our transportation unit is critical in inching our milk out of the plant and a bit closer to the end consumer,” Aarons says. “Milk is a perishable product that consumers expect to be fresh. Maola Milk does not sit in the plant, we are ensuring it’s on the grocery store shelf as quick as possible.“
A Critical Link in the Chain
Maola’s transportation division serves a critical role throughout our business and supply chain. Our customers (grocery stores, educational institutions, convenience stores) and the end consumer rely on a safe and efficient shipping operation to get the healthy and nutritious products our dairy farmers and plant employees produce.
Norris has this in mind each day he heads out.
“Milk is a superior product. It’s helped me raise two kids and provided a pretty good life for my family,” he says. “It feels good to distribute something that does good in other people’s lives.”
Norris will be handling the product a little differently moving forward though. Starting this month, he’s been promoted Sales Representative for Consumer Products in the North Carolina region. In this new role, Norris will manage relationships with our customers day-to-day in a big picture environment.