3PLs in Agriculture: Know the Roots of the Industry to Make Your Impact
From LTL and dedicated route service to seasonal and year-round storage, 3PLs need to be well-versed in the space to meet the specialized needs of agricultural companies.
For third-party logistics companies, serving the agriculture industry requires more than moving commodities from point A to point B. Whether it is transportation, seasonal and year-round storage, or another operation entirely, there is specific knowledge to be learned in order to effectively manage these types of businesses.
Agriculture companies have a unique set of needs that require a 3PL partner to be well versed in the space. Here is what you should know to successfully serve the industry:
Embrace seasonality. Like growers that plant in the spring and harvest in the fall, 3PLs have to work around the industry’s seasonality. When something needs to be done, it’s not possible to push it off. After all, tomorrow could be a "rain day." From spring input to summer maintenance and fall take-down of crops, 3PLs have to react within a specific time frame.
Be flexible. Agriculture clients must be able to trust their 3PL partners to get the job done, day after day, year after year. This can include on-time LTL and dedicated route service performance, as well as any services the agriculture business may need: warehouse space, people, forklifts, trucks, drivers, trailers, customer pickups, and expertise in warehousing and transportation. As a 3PL serving the industry, we help our client Growmark with next-day LTL and dedicated route delivery services to all of their Southern Illinois co-op member locations during the peak farming season running from March through June.
Invest in equipment. Agriculture is thought to be old-fashioned, but the truth is, it’s one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. From farming equipment run solely by GPS to forecasting weather, the industry is advancing rapidly. As a 3PL, you may have to invest in agriculture-specific equipment like hopper-bottom trailers to ensure you have what it takes to meet your clients’ needs.
Leverage location. Pursue partnerships that make sense from a geographic standpoint. NOTS Logistics’ location near the center of the Midwest’s farming universe in Southern Illinois has proven to be a perfect fit for many agriculture companies to easily reach their customers throughout the region.
Grow together. Be prepared to grow alongside your clients. The industry is rapidly consolidating, with big firms getting bigger and smaller players getting squeezed. You must change, evolve, and adapt to customer supply chain requirements. The bigger companies are looking for strategic alliances to grow and need a reliable 3PL to be there to flex up and down. Growmark just recently expanded their service area into several other states and asked NOTS Logistics to help with this expansion. We not only built these new warehouses but also manage all phases of logistics for the company. We are working together to find new opportunities around inventories, warehouse space, transportation, equipment, and potential future locations.
Like many other industries, agriculture is experiencing supply chain challenges, with prices going through the roof. As a 3PL, you must be fully committed to the industry and knowledgeable of the local market—and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a personal interest in agriculture. Not every 3PL is equipped to serve the industry, but for those who are, it’s nice to have a niche.