The Tom Lange Co. Inc. in Springfield, IL, has some advantages in the watermelon business, and it is well-positioned to make use of them this spring. Not only is the company in its fourth season as a licensed distributor for Dole Food Co. Inc., it also controls its own transportation needs via its Lange Logistics subsidiary.
“We have a carrier base that would rival most in the industry, and we are going to continue exploring ways to maximize efficiencies and leverage that carrier base to its fullest potential,” said Jeff Moore, vice president of sales. “We believe we have only scratched the surface on what we can accomplish, and we are confident our upgrading of technology related to transportation is going to take us to even greater heights. As a company, I believe you’ll see us offer more and more international logistics solutions. Our ‘Seven Seas’ offices are extending their services worldwide, and it’s a natural that [providing transportation] will be included in that.”
Meanwhile, a good percentage of Lange Logistics is focused on moving watermelons for the Dole deal. Despite a cool, rainy spring, Mr. Moore believes a soft market will improve along with increased demand as the weather gets better. “We market and distribute Dole watermelons in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico,” Mr. Moore explained. “The recent markets have been depressed, and colder weather at destination points coupled with lots and lots of rain has slowed movement in many parts of the country. As things warm up, we should see excellent movement as the projected lids being given for the next few weeks are at very promotable price points.”
Lange ships watermelons in season from Mexico, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina and Arizona. With that kind of coverage, having adequate transportation on-hand is a huge advantage. “Our transportation capabilities have been a big part of our Dole watermelon program. It allows us to take the pressure off of our customers when sourcing trucks can be tough,” Mr. Moore said. “And it also allows them to cut one purchase order and receive one invoice rather than dealing with paperwork from the shipper and a truck.”
And while Lange cannot control the price of fuel, even with its massive fleet of trucks, it has kept its logistics division busy for years looking for the best ways to maximize efficiency. “We have been concerned about energy costs for a few years now. It’s no accident we have worked hard to ship Dole melons out of so many regions,” Mr. Moore said. “By doing this, we offer our customers that continuity of quality and the ‘Dole’ branded bins and melons while giving them several options on locally or regionally grown product, thus reducing food miles and offering fresher product.”