Fragrant Fraser firs are a favorite for customers of Bottomley Evergreens & Farms, a family-owned business located in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Founded in 1990, Bottomley Evergreens is one of America’s largest providers of Christmas trees and holiday greenery. The company also supplies customers with pumpkins, cabbage, kale and sweet corn.
While the company’s seasonal offerings have expanded over the years, the seasonal nature of the business remains the same—along with the challenge of ensuring valued employees work throughout the year. In February 2015, Bottomley Evergreens joined a managed, returnable and reusable packaging solutions provider’s pallet storage program, one way to use the company’s vast warehouse space and keep employees busy. And then, in January 2019, Bottomley Evergreens and the solutions provider extended the storage partnership, as they added managed recovery to the mix.
With managed recovery, Bottomley Evergreens receives the managed, returnable and reusable packaging solutions provider’s pooled (shared and reused) pallets directly from distribution centers and retailers, sorts them (using the solution provider’s quality standards), stores the pallets that pass the test and returns the rest to the solutions provider for repair. With recovered pallets on hand, the approach improves efficiency and eradicates empty miles.
“It’s a lot more efficient getting the pallets directly from the distribution centers,” says Simon Smit, operations manager for Bottomley Evergreens & Farms. “It reduces waste, and we’re able to keep our people busy. The managed recovery program is working out well for us.”
When Smit joined Bottomley Evergreens, the business used mostly white wood pallets; however, while working with major retailers, a change was prompted—to the managed, returnable and reusable packaging solutions provider, a move Smit is glad that Bottomley Evergreens made.
“If you want to send products into the distribution centers, they need to be on approved pallets, so we started with [the solutions provider],” Smit says. “Then, because we have the warehouse space, we tried the storage program. The guys in the warehouse like it—it keeps them busy and they want to work.”
During the first four years of the program, Bottomley Evergreens stored nearly 100,000 pallets onsite, providing work for employees, along with a bottom-line benefit: Customers participating in the solutions provider’s storage and managed recovery programs receive per-pallet incentives. In addition, while pallets were immediately available at harvest time, Smit says he knows the solutions provider is ready to deliver more, whenever they’re needed.
“I really appreciate working with [the solutions provider], and I’m amazed at the company’s customer service,” Smit adds. “If I call up and say, ‘I need pallets and I need them at 9 a.m.,’ the truck is there at 9 a.m. [It] always comes through.”
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