Warren Anderson, president and CEO of The Anderson-DuBose Co., prides himself on running an organization that’s nimble and responsive to its customers’ needs
The distribution and logistics company’s primary customers are two of the largest quick-serve restaurant franchises in the U.S. In 2011, he proved that responsiveness when one of his customers asked him sell his two, 30-year-old distribution facilities — one in Solon, Ohio, that serviced franchisees in Greater Cleveland, and another in Carnegie, Pennsylvania, just outside of Pittsburgh. The company wanted Anderson-DuBose to consolidate the facilities in a new one in Lordstown, Ohio, between the two markets.
It was a major undertaking, but it wouldn’t be the last time Anderson would be called on to accommodate the client. This past year, the company took on another expansion, when Anderson was once again asked to make a significant investment to accommodate its client’s plans.
The right people in the right places
In both instances, the company needed to grow physically and in headcount to meet its client’s needs. That required training new employees while continuing to service its existing business in the midst of construction.
Company leaders were called on to multitask, handling responsibilities from planning for the consolidation and training new employees, to managing customers’ day-to-day needs. It also meant uprooting the company’s entire operations without noticeably impacting its customers.
“In some cases, we moved our rank and file into training positions,” Anderson says. “So it wasn’t just managers; we had every level in the organization helping to train.”
As the company worked to meet the increased demand and navigate an ever-growing workspace, Anderson says it reaffirmed to him his team’s ability to plan and then execute against that plan. He also attributes the successful transition to a happy and productive workforce, the result, smart hiring decisions and a culture that values its employees.
“First of all, hire the right people, people who care,” he says. “Have an environment that encourages high performance and rewards high performance. And treat people fairly, so when there are disputes, you handle them in a systematic and fair way.”
Speed and efficiency
While the moves were designed to accommodate clients, operational efficiencies realized from construction of the Lordstown facility have helped Anderson-DuBose streamline its business and maximize efficiency in key ways.
The building was designed so that inbound product comes in on one side and outbound leaves through the other side. Older facilities don’t always have such a simple luxury; often, products are handled multiple times as they enter and exit the same doors. The new facility eliminated that inefficient handling.
“It created a tremendous amount of efficiencies in that one design of the building,” Anderson says.
The new location and design also allow the company to bring in some products by rail cars.
To efficiently handle the high volume of product, Anderson-DuBose introduced automated guided vehicles to receive and handle frozen food that comes in via rail, and also automated other product picking. That initiative alone helped the company increase its yields to restaurants, delivering more servings per pound of product than all other distributors the client’s network, because its processes reduced damage to the food.
In 2017, a new client initiative required Anderson-DuBose to add another 55,000 square feet to its Lordstown facility, increasing the size of its freezer and refrigerated space, and creating processes to ensure the product is handled in a way to avoid spoilage.
“We make deliveries to the restaurants on average about every three to four days. We didn’t have to move any quicker, we just had to accommodate a different type of product and make sure that we handle it properly in a temperature-controlled environment,” Anderson says. “It was how the product was handled as much as it was speed.”
The company’s efforts ultimately paid off in many ways. Anderson-DuBose acquired an additional distribution business in 2013, based in Rochester, New York. The expanded relationship added 37 percent annualized sales from that client for Anderson-DuBose.
The company has been recognized by the client as best of the best in terms of food product yields, leading to Anderson-DuBose benchmarking the company’s processes to share them with the rest of the distribution community. Also Anderson-DuBose’s team led development and implementation recommendations for two other client’s suppliers.
The moves also earned the company in 2013 and 2014 a platinum award, given to the top distribution companies within the client’s U.S. distribution network for quality and food safety. The unannounced audit, conducted by an independent auditing firm, led to awards for two of Anderson-DuBose’s facilities in Lordstown and Rochester, New York.
Anderson-DuBose has realized other benefits by embracing efficiencies, and so has the environment.
In 2013, Anderson created a manager-level position to oversee quality and sustainability initiatives for its Ohio and New York facilities. This led to a 2013 certification under ISO 14001, a family of standards laid out by the International Organization for Standardization that provides tools for companies to manage their environmental responsibilities. The company exceeded its 2014 waste to landfill reduction and diesel fuel consumption reduction goals, reaching a 75 percent reduction of waste to landfill and a 21 percent reduction of diesel fuel consumption compared to its 2013 metrics.
The company has continued to find ways to reduce its environmental impact, both for the benefit of its clients and because it believes it’s the right thing to do.
“We elected to look for a site that could accommodate rail cars, thereby reducing a significant number of trucks on the road and reducing diesel fuel emissions,” Anderson says.
The company also provides electric standbys so the cooling units on delivery vehicles can run when parked in the company’s lots without burning diesel. Anderson-DuBose recently purchased an electric tractor in Rochester, and also put a down payment on Tesla truck.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to cut emissions and be earth friendly,” he says.
Anderson-DuBose’s culture is based on ensuring its customers’ success. By putting its customers first, Anderson-DuBose all but assures success for everyone involved.
A friend along the way
Warren Anderson has had a meaningful relationship with Huntington ever since he purchased The Anderson-DuBose Co. in 1991.
“My company was originally a joint venture with a large company, I bought them out in the ’90s, and Huntington worked with me and allowed me to buy out my associates,” Anderson says.
Huntington was also there in 2011 when Anderson needed funding to build his Lordstown facility. Although another firm financed the real estate, Huntington financed several million dollars of the project through a line of credit.
The bank was also helpful in financing parts of a recent initiative, providing some $5 million in new equipment financing.
“Huntington has been there every step of the way for my business initiatives, including setting up a distribution network in South Africa and buying other food distribution centers, including Pittsburgh and Rochester. And we’ve had some other small companies that they have financed,” Anderson says. “I couldn’t ask for a better banking relationship.”
For more information, visit www.anderson-dubose.com