American manufacturers, especially those in the food industry, know how hard it can be to fine-tune supply chain management. Finding logistics partners with enough space to use for overflow services can also be easier said than done, and high-quality, food-grade qualified storage can also be hard to come by.
Chosen as one of 2018’s top one hundred third-party logistics (3PL) providers by Inbound Logistics, FW Logistics is a partner that allows manufacturers to do what they do best, while its experts attend to warehousing, fulfillment, and more.
And the food industry is not its only focus. FW Logistics also serves the fields of manufacturing, e-commerce, retail, wholesale, and transportation. With facilities spanning over eight million square feet across the country, there is very little for which this company is unprepared.
For those in search of a warehousing and shipping fulfillment expert that can be counted on to become an extension of their own manufacturing outfit, this Midwest company may well be the best match. Its services extend over three main departments and serve all of the United States of America.
From its transportation depot in Centreville, Illinois, it offers a fleet of one hundred asset-based trucks with drivers and over three hundred trailers. Its fulfillment section looks after contract packaging, kitting, picking and packing, and reverse logistics where goods are returned from their destination, sometimes to be disposed of correctly. Its logistics department deals with distribution, while its transportation section handles freight consolidation, full truckload (FTL) shipping, less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping and pool distribution where regular, often smaller loads are combined and dispatched to multiple central points.
The company also prides itself on having the latest in smart-warehouse technology that allows it to assist scores of large fabricators and those outside the food industry. It has invested in the most recent e-commerce software and artificial intelligence to enable its warehousing system to track inventories in real-time.
“In time, we will be able to save our customers money by offering the exact same software functionality as the world’s largest e-commerce company,” says Marketing Specialist Shannon Nute. This would mean that clients will get identical service without exorbitant overheads.
FW Logistics is constantly expanding to assist with the nation’s warehousing and logistics needs. To keep up with demand, it added four new buildings in 2018 alone.
To manage an operation of this scale takes communication and painstaking attention to detail. FW Logistics’ commitment to this is already evident the moment clients land on its website with its instant chat feature and easily accessible direct line. A dedicated representative is every new customer’s first port of call, and takes care of the entire quotation process, from ascertaining their exact needs to explaining every aspect of the cost structure.
“We like to make sure that all our information is communicated clearly and openly,” says Shannon. Depending on the size of the storage requirement, they can provide prices without delay, so that even on the most complex needs, this stage takes no longer than forty-eight hours. As soon as the client’s signed acceptance document is received and cleared, the FW Logistics warehouses are ready to accept the new goods.
Nothing here is left to chance, including speed. Not only is the company’s general manager familiar with every client’s account status, but customer service representatives are also at hand to assist clients when needed.
“It really is a waste of manufacturers’ time and energy to train and manage people for dedicated warehousing and fulfillment operations. It is a complex process that we excel at. And we’re cost-efficient. That’s why they come to us,” says Shannon.
FW Logistics started in 1949 and has served the country for seventy years. Mr. Cusumano Senior began the company as a fresh produce fulfillment center. Its first commercially-produced product for holding was Capri Sun, the famous Swiss-owned fruit juice brand that has licensed American production partners. Mr. Cusumano realized that there was no limit to his facility’s holding and fulfillment possibilities.
From here, the company continued expanding to where it is today. Today, his grandsons own the company, with John Cusumano as Vice President, Mark Cusumano as Chief Executive Officer and Mike Cusumano as Safety and Compliance Officer.
“Our clients really enjoy the fact that when they need assistance, they get to speak to real people who know their accounts,” says Shannon. “We go out of our way to refer people when we can’t help them. We also really clarify everything, so that prospective clients understand that if they do choose us, it will be a smooth process,” she adds. Going this extra mile builds huge trust with customers.
Its staff is comprised of around three hundred people, many of whom have been here for over ten years. This company nurtures team spirit through weekly meetings and continual training to ensure that everyone remains up-to-date with the latest technology, systems, and methods. This includes training on the artificial intelligence technology that has been implemented to make their jobs easier by making it possible to control many of the warehousing functions right from the forklift.
Last year, all employees were treated to a gift basket stuffed with branded goodies. “We really pull together when any of our colleagues are having a hard time. When they come to work, people feel comfortable that everyone has their back,” says Shannon, who has been with the company for just over a year.
And they know how to have fun, too. Not long ago, one of its clients stored sixty thousand square feet of adult-sized stuffed toys – naturally a very entertaining moment. “It was pretty funny having to repack stuffed toy animals that were bigger than a lot of the people trying to package them. It made everyone look super small. We really enjoyed that. It is always fun,” Shannon laughs.
The light-hearted group also cares for the wellbeing of others and loves engaging in charity work. Part of last year’s contributions was a sharing of the smaller large stuffed animals – complete with Santa Claus – at a school in the East St. Louis school district.
It also takes part in a large number of other benevolent works, mostly centered on children. The company also supports Big Brothers Big Sisters of America and the U.S. troops. Local churches benefit from its philanthropy as well as the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Another initiative that is very close to its heart is the World Pediatric Project that supports people in low-income countries without access to basic surgery and medical treatment.
The company opened the first of four new facilities in January including a frozen and refrigerated goods facility in Memphis, Tennessee, quickly followed. The original twelve facilities can be found in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and North Carolina. The company will be completing the second of three expansion phases on April 15 this year. It may consider adding another facility to its existing one in the Indianapolis area as a start for the last phase.
“It really depends on our clients. If someone approaches us with a need for a facility in a new area, we will certainly consider setting it up. We are no stranger to doing this,” says Shannon. Maintaining quality is one of its primary goals, so expansion never happens at the cost of standards.
FW Logistics is very aware of growing with its clients. By focusing on supporting clients in their growth, the company’s own growth should continue. Staying abreast of the latest available industry technology is another big goal that it intends to follow to give its clients top-notch service. In addition, it is also aiming at creating ever more transparency between itself and its clients and at making the job as easy as possible on its employees.