As the second-largest trading partner with the U.S., Canada is a highly valued market to American shippers of nearly all industries. To put this trade relationship in perspective, consider that U.S. exports to Canada have grown by more than $100 billion since 2000. That’s a lot of freight, eh?
Since its founding in 1993, Fortessa Tableware Solutions, LLC (FTS) a Virginia-based producer of tableware, has become a leader in its marketplace. The company’s wide array of products, including flatware, dinnerware and glassware, can be found today in restaurants, hotels and homes across the globe.
For Kathleen Rivera, a logistics manager at the FTS warehouse in Winchester, VA, maintaining a seamless cross-border supply chain is critical to the success of the company’s sales in Canada.
“We’re looking to deliver to our final customers in Canada as quickly as possible,” Rivera said. “Our process is very specialized in that we deliver to a lot of restaurants and hotels in the Toronto area. At the same time, we also have small package deliveries throughout the country as well as shipments that are going west to the Vancouver area of the country.”
To ensure that its customers receive their orders in time, which can range in size from pallets to packages, Fortessa streamlines much of its cross-border operations by having its warehouse designated as a foreign trade zone (FTZ) and by handling its own customs clearance.
In order to reduce costs and improve efficiency, FTS consolidates its large and small orders into a daily shipment with just one bill of lading that is then handled by Averitt and its Canadian partner Polaris Transportation.
“Nearly every afternoon, our drivers pick up and bring FTS shipments to our nearby facility to consolidate with other Canada-bound freight that moves in bond,” said Dan Whittaker, Averitt’s Winchester service center director. “From our facility, Polaris picks up the shipments and makes the overnight trip to Toronto.”
Once in Toronto, Polaris deconsolidates the freight and delivers the larger shipments to locations in the region. FTS’ smaller orders, which arrive already labeled and packaged, are delivered by a parcel carrier. For the company’s westbound shipments, a third-party carrier handles the transportation across the country.
Keeping the various parts of the company’s cross-border supply chain with Canada moving without issue has required a strong focus on detail, communication and working closely with its transportation service providers.
“We’ve worked internally and together with Averitt over the past couple years to fine-tune our shipping process,” said Rivera. “It’s a very specialized process, but it’s become normal to us.”