New Corporate Team Redefines Transportation for Sanderson Farms
For a poultry producer that sells more than 2.7 billion pounds of poultry each year to customers across the nation and in more than 50 countries, an efficient transportation system is key to effective operations and superior customer service. Considering that fresh poultry products require timely delivery to customers, the logistics associated with shipping products for the nation’s third largest poultry producer is certainly no small undertaking.
For many years, Sanderson Farms shouldered that responsibility primarily on its own through internal staffing resources and company-owned fleets. As Sanderson Farms continued to grow and expand its operations, the company began to focus on how to improve its logistics operations by keeping costs down and ensuring continued on-time deliveries to customers.
In 2015, the company chose to adopt a more centralized approach to its existing transportation operations by forming a team solely dedicated to logistics and transportation at the Corporate Office. Moving from an outbound private fleet environment to an outsourced fleet operation was a critical decision that was made in light of industry-wide driver shortages, increased regulation and capacity challenges.
According to the department’s leader, Earnie Seibert, who joined Sanderson Farms as the Corporate Logistics and Operations Manager in 2015, limiting factors such as personnel shortages and fleet maintenance requirements led to the decision to centralize and outsource the company’s transportation operations. “We looked at our trucking capabilities, and we would’ve needed major investments in people and equipment to improve,” said Seibert. “Instead, we chose to look at what we do best and outsource the transportation expertise.”
“There are driver shortages, extensive equipment needs, maintenance requirements and many regulations,” continued Seibert. “Overseeing all of that takes a lot of time and compliance. We felt it would be better to focus on what we do best at Sanderson Farms and work with the experts in transportation for the rest.”
One of the first projects the new Logistics Department engaged in was the implementation of a new transportation management system (TMS) intended to provide the company with a centralized source of information and improve transportation processes. “Installing the TMS across our network provided us with a central repository of information on rates, tender acceptances, services and everything else that goes along with transportation management,” said Seibert. Since implementing the TMS,, Sanderson Farms has been able to reduce transportation costs significantly and improve efficiency by increasing the company’s visibility into the transportation process.
“After implementing the new department and TMS, the company was able to work with bigger asset-based carriers that had trouble doing business with us in the past because of the lack of centralized carrier contracts and our decentralized nature,” said Seibert. “We were able to talk to them about how we were changing things, looking at drive and capacity challenges.”
By reducing the company’s reliability on transportation brokers and negotiating directly with carriers, Sanderson Farms was able to reduce costs and optimize our transportation operations. Initially, Sanderson Farms’ transportation network was more than 60 percent broker supported compared to the little more than 21 percent broker support that the company currently utilizes.
“Since joining the company, we’ve been creating a new corporate logistics department for a company that used to have a decentralized organization,” said Seibert. “In the past, individual decisions and transportation supplier relationships were all handled by our processing facilities. The company felt there would be optimization opportunities if we got into centralization.”
Throughout the past two years that the Logistics Department has been in operation, that is precisely what the team has done, identify opportunities for optimization in our transportation system. Since 2015 when the department was formed, Sanderson Farms has saved more than $5 million by centralizing and outsourcing its transportation operations. In this case, optimization opportunities in our transportation operations equated more than $5 million in savings, which most would argue is well worth the company’s investment in the centralization of our logistics operations.
“I’ve spent many years working on the provider side of this business, and the success of our transformation stems from the fact that our leadership knows we have areas where we can improve,” Seibert says. “Leadership of the organization through this change period has been a big contributor to the success of our initiatives. Many companies have trouble admitting where they have areas they can improve, and it says a lot about our company that we are willing to take the steps needed to get better at what we do.”
Sanderson Farms recognizes that continued investment in carrier relationships and oversight will help to identify competitive market rates and ensure compliance with the company’s expectations. Ensuring adequate capacity and committing to partnerships with carriers that provide competitive rates and conditions will be essential to the long-term success of logistics efforts as the company continues to grow.
“We are looking for more organic growth, so we must refine what we do,” said Seibert. “We must provide the best solutions to our plants and get competitive rates so we can provide superior service to our customers.”
The transportation and logistics industry has undergone much transformation in the last several years. New technological requirements and ongoing constraints from driver shortages will continue to pressure those responsible for the movement of goods such as Sanderson Farms. In order to navigate such challenging times, the company must strive to be a shipper of choice so that carriers and customers alike will prefer doing business with Sanderson Farms.
Providing superior service to our customers in the food industry has always been a part of Sanderson Farms’ mission as a poultry producer. That service includes being able to meet the company’s promises by ensuring products are safely delivered to customers in a timely manner.
“Our business operates at essentially the same levels 52 weeks a year,” said Seibert. “We ship fairly consistently to many of the same destinations, and we are in a poultry processing environment that has critical shelf life and shipping times to deal with. Getting to a place where we can improve carrier reliability and build partnerships is critical.”
With the help of his team, improving carrier reliability, shipping times and customer service is exactly what Seibert and the Logistics Department have accomplished over the past two years. Now a four-member team consisting of Seibert, a Corporate Logistics Rate Manager, a Corporate Logistics Coordinator and a Carrier Compliance Specialist, the Logistics Department strives daily to reduce transportation cost and increase delivery efficiency for Sanderson Farms.
“Earnie’s team took on a very big task and instituted major change within Sanderson Farms,” said Neil Morgan, former Director of Sales at Sanderson Farms. “The results of that change have been increased efficiencies, improved equipment, better service and lower cost. The software system that our Logistics team has implemented is giving our managers details that we could not see before. Looking forward, I am certain that we will continue to improve cost and service to our customers.”
Source: Transportation and Logistics International Magazine
MEET THE TEAM
Corporate Logistics and Operations Manager
Earnie Seibert joined the company in 2015 as the Corporate Logistics and Operations Manager for a new Logistics Department at Sanderson Farms. As the Corporate Logistics and Operations Manager, Seibert is responsible for all of the company’s transportation and logistics supply chain delivery programs, which includes managing the quality, cost and efficiency of the movement of goods for Sanderson Farms. He also hires, manages and supervises the logistics team, which focuses on the daily execution of freight movements to customers. Prior to joining Sanderson Farms, Earnie had an extensive career in the logistics and trucking industry including working as a Vice President of Sales for Dupre Logistics, LLC and CR England. He also worked for Penske Logistics, Cardinal Logistics and JB Hunt. Earnie is a graduate of Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York. He is married to his wife Laurie, and they have three daughters and one son.
Corporate Logistics Coordinator
Krista Hyatt joined Sanderson Farms in 2009 as a Programmer /Analyst, a position she held for seven years before joining the company’s Logistics Department as a Corporate Logistics Coordinator. As a Corporate Logistics Coordinator, Krista monitors contract rate compliance, reinforces carrier compliance and executes carrier corrective action plans. She is also responsible for planning and executing Sanderson Farms’ delivery system, which includes managing the chain of events for transit as well as daily communication with plants. Prior to joining Sanderson Farms, Krista worked as a programmer and analyst for Electrolux Home Products in Anderson, South Carolina and Hood Industries in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. She also worked as a Computer Programmer for Computer Sciences Corporation in Hattiesburg. Krista graduated from Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, where she earned an Associate of Science degree in Computer Systems Technology. She is married to her husband Daniel, and they have one daughter and one son.
Corporate Logistics Rate Manager
Brittany Battle began her career with Sanderson Farms as a Beginning Trainee in 2007. Since then, Brittany has held various positions with the company including Broiler Flock Supervisor and Customer Service Representative. Prior to joining Sanderson Farms’ Logistics Department, Brittany worked for Eagle Transportation as a Logistics Coordinator and B Clean Transportation as a Fleet Manager. As a Corporate Logistics Rate Manager, Brittany is responsible for managing and negotiating freight cost rates, as well as managing all carrier rates, contracts and the accuracy of logistics data within Sanderson Farms’ transportation management system. She also organizes and executes bid events to lower delivery cost. Brittany is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal, Dairy and Poultry Sciences. Brittany is married to her husband Brian, and they have three sons.
Carrier Compliance Specialist
Alex Rea began his career with Sanderson Farms in 2015 as a Beginning Trainee. Throughout his tenure in the Corporate Trainee Program, Alex worked in various areas of the company’s operations, including more than a year and a half in the Customer Service Department at Collins Processing. As a Carrier Compliance Specialist, Alex is responsible for planning and executing Sanderson Farms’ outbound delivery system, which includes managing the chain of events for transit as well as daily communication with providers. He also tracks and develops action plans to continually improve delivery times, as well as managing all accessorial charges with providers, plants and customers. Alex is a graduate of Southwest Mississippi Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi, where he earned an Associate of Science degree in Marketing and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Technology with an emphasis in Business Management. Prior to graduation, Alex was a three-time summer intern with Sanderson Farms. Alex and his wife Ashley reside in Ellisville, Mississippi.