Although Costa Farms’ headquarters is in Miami, Florida, it has three additional farms in North and South Carolina, and an office in Guandong, China. Together, these locations produce more than 1,500 varieties and ship about 30,000 truckloads a year. While the departments at Costa Farms work together to streamline the orders, they also rely on each other personally.
“It’s very important to have a good team — which we do — because there’s a lot of volume,” says Willy Maurer, director of transportation. “We do about 30,000 loads a year but 60-65% of the business happens in three-ish months in spring. The team steps up and is so on the ball with everything, and are so professional, that it makes it almost seem too easy. But when you take a step back and realize the complexity of it, you realize that it is not easy, it’s just very well done.”
While Maurer says it’s important to have good leadership in any department, it’s important to have a good director of transportation for two reasons.
“You want to be there for your team,” he says. “You want to be there as a liaison to other departments and higher-ups for the needs of your team and to make their jobs easier. I don’t need to babysit them, but I do need to improve the efficiencies of the business by facilitating and making their job simpler.”
With his 20-plus years of experience in logistics, Maurer says there are three key concepts when aiming for efficient production and transportation.
“The main thing you have to have is the right people in place who can help, that’s No. 1,” he says. “No. 2 is having the technology needed — a good TMS, good routing software, that kind of stuff. The third is having great relationships with your carriers at the trucking companies.”
According to Maurer, cultivating good relationships with his carrier has helped tremendously. All of his carriers have his cell phone number and can call him any time. In fact, they often have personal conversations.
“You have to have that relationship because when it really gets in the thick of things, you will need them to go the extra mile, and you need to be able to reciprocate the same thing,” Maurer says.
This is easy for Maurer, as he has a special respect for truckers. He considers them the “backbone of the country,” considering that “almost 75% of everything you buy was on a truck.”
This appreciation is reflected in FreightWaves, a leading provider of trucking news, media and analytics for truckers. In 2020, Costa Farms was awarded FreightWaves’ Shipper of Choice Award, which highlights companies that strive to create productive supply chains while maintaining great relationships with carriers and drivers.
“That is something that is voted on by companies and truck drivers,” Maurer says, “and that to me is as important as customer satisfaction because we’re making them happy. Clients need to be happy but so do the people you work with. That and success goes hand in hand.”