The next transformation, which involved distribution, was even more complex. “We increased the shipping capacity at our warehouse locations by 25%, which is huge, and upped the amount of product we shipped directly from our production locations by even more, probably 30%,” Fleck said. “That meant we had to secure a lot of additional freight carriers early on to make sure we could haul so much product.”
Although it may sound counterintuitive, GP lowered the amount of product in each truckload slightly while increasing the number of shipments. “We call that increasing inventory turns,” Fleck explained. “It meant we could restock empty shelves more often, which was better for customers than leaving them with nothing for days at a time.”
The third portion of GP’s strategy focused on customer service. “We had to set up extra lines of communication immediately so we could find out what was needed, where and how to get there.” Fleck is especially proud of the Consumer Products group for meeting every commitment for product allocation made during those stressful times. “We lived up to our promises every single month. We weren’t short even once.” The company also arranged to send direct shipments from GP’s plants to customers’ stores, saving time the product would have spent going to and from distribution centers.
“I am extremely proud of our response,” said David Duncan, head of GP’s Consumer Products group. “Our planning, inventory and SKU management, warehouse system, transportation and logistics efforts enabled record levels of product deliveries to our customers. As an integrated team we stepped up to the challenges and opportunities of 2020 and outperformed our competition.”