Phoenix-based distributor Kodiak Fresh LLC has added a wholesale warehouse to its Salt Lake City operations.
Kodiak Fresh had been providing cross-docking services in Salt Lake City for about two years, said owner Blair Hillman. After launching that service, the idea of a larger presence in Utah was hatched.
If the company already had coolers and “all the bells and whistles” in place for its cross-docking operation, Hillman reasoned it might as well take advantage of the infrastructure in place and add wholesale sales.
“We’ve been slowly bringing it on,” Hillman said. “We put a sales crew up there in the fall.”
In all, Kodiak Fresh has 45 full-time employees in Salt Lake City, which offers a full line of fresh fruits and vegetables, mainly to customers in the city and in the Wasatch Basin.
Organics in Arizona
Meanwhile, back at Kodiak Fresh’s Arizona headquarters, it’s pretty much business as usual, with retail account for about 60% of the company’s sales and foodservice 40%, Hillman said.
“We’ve been going like normal, just looking for ways to cut costs.”
One category that has seen changes over the years for Kodiak Fresh is organics, Hillman said.
About 25% of the Kodiak Fresh’s cooler space is dedicated to organics. When Hillman bought the company in 2005, he made a big push to diversity the product line, and organics was one of his main targets for growth.
“Organics is slowly growing. We’re getting a little bit bigger organic following. It’s across the board — lettuce to stone fruit to root vegetables. It’s really everything.”
Kodiak Fresh’s organic offerings vary from week to week, depending on what commodities are available in volume, Hillman said.
Lower fuel prices a boon
One thing that’s made it easier for Kodiak Fresh to do business in 2014 has been lower fuel prices, Hillman said.
The company has its own fleet of 22 over-the-road trucks. As the transportation side of its business has grown, Kodiak Fresh has hired a transportation manager and crews.
Since the company has its own fleet tractors, refrigerated trailers and refrigerated box trucks, it doesn’t have to rely on outside carriers for most of its inbound produce.
With lower fuel prices, the company is able to expand its distribution net, Hillman said.
“We’re pretty much everywhere west of the Mississippi.”
Regardless of fuel costs, Kodiak Fresh continues to look for ways to boost efficiencies to squeeze more miles per gallon of fuel out of its fleet, Hillman said.
Cheaper fuel is just icing on the cake.
“The fuel prices now are sure helping us.”