From LTL and dedicated track servicing to seasonal and year-round storage, 3PLs must be well versed in space to meet the specialized needs of agricultural businesses.
For third-party logistics companies, servicing the agricultural industry requires more than moving goods from point A to point B. Whether it is transportation, seasonal or year-round storage, or another operation entirely, there is specific knowledge that must be learned in order to effectively run these types of businesses.
Agricultural companies have a unique set of needs that require a 3PL partner to be well-versed in the field. Here’s what you need to know to serve the industry successfully:
Embrace seasonality. Like farmers who sow in the spring and harvest in the fall, 3PLs have to work around the seasonality of the industry. When something needs to be done, it can’t be pushed. After all, tomorrow may be a “rainy day”. From spring inputs to summer maintenance and fall crop landings, 3PLs must interact within a specific time frame.
Be flexible. Agriculture clients must be able to trust their 3PL partners to get the job done, day in and day out, year in and year out. This can include on-time LTL and custom track service performance, as well as any services the farm business may need: warehouse space, people, forklifts, trucks, drivers, trailers, customer trucks, and expertise in warehousing and transportation. As a 3PL company serving the industry, we assist our client Growmark with next day LTL and custom road delivery services to all of our Southern Illinois cooperative member locations during the peak growing season from March through June.
Invest in equipment. Agriculture is thought of as old-fashioned, but the truth is that it is one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. From agricultural equipment powered solely by GPS to weather forecasting, the industry is advancing rapidly. As a 3PL, you may have to invest in farming-specific equipment such as bottom hopper trailers to ensure you have what it takes to meet your customers’ needs.
Take advantage of the site. Pursue partnerships that make sense from a geographic point of view. NOTS Logistics’ location near the center of the farming world in the Midwest in southern Illinois has proven to be a perfect fit for many agricultural companies to easily reach their customers throughout the region.
grow together. Be prepared to grow alongside your customers. The industry is consolidating rapidly, with large firms increasing in size and smaller firms shrinking. It must change, evolve and adapt to the requirements of the supply chain of customers. Big companies are looking for strategic alliances to grow and need a reliable 3PL to exist up and down. Growmark recently expanded their service area to several other states and asked NOTS Logistics to help with this expansion. Not only did we build these new warehouses, but we also managed all phases of the company’s logistics. We work together to find new opportunities around inventory, warehouse space, transportation, equipment, and potential future locations.
Like many other industries, agriculture faces challenges in the supply chain, with prices rising. As a 3PL, you must be fully committed to the industry and familiar with the local market – and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a personal interest in farming. Not every 3PL is equipped to serve the industry, but for those out there it’s a good idea to have a niche.