When Railex announced it had opened its fourth temperature-controlled multimodal and third-party logistics location this year in Jacksonville, Fla. — as well as plans for a fifth location in Chicago — that was good news for Bartolotta Inc.
Kevin Bartolotta, owner of the Torrington, Conn., brokerage, said working with the Rotterdam, N.Y.-based rail company has allowed him to increase his celery volume by more than 10% while also lowering prices for customers.
“It’s opened new doors for us over the last few years,” Bartolotta said.
“We’ve added three to four good customers. To me, rail is the wave of the future. It’s helped me move more volume and earn more business.”
Bartolotta said celery already was his company’s biggest commodity because of its relationship with a fresh-cut processor, but his volume has spiked the past few years.
He said his company sells more than 300,000 boxes of celery each year, drawing from California in the winter, Florida in the winter and spring and Michigan and Canada in the summer.
In the past, 95% of his Florida celery volume moved by truck, but that could change next year.
“Truck rates fluctuate much more than rail,” he said. “In fact, rates from Florida went up $400 in the past two days.”
He said that from a broker’s standpoint, the advantages of rail are plentiful.
“If I need to send 10 pallets to New York, eight pallets to Boston and six pallets to Philadelphia, no truck on the planet is going to take that load, and if they did they would charge me $600-800 more than the prevailing rate,” he said.
Instead, Bartolotta has Railex load his product at its Delano, Calif., facility. Five days later, the product arrives in New York, and Railex splits the load onto trucks headed to the appropriate destinations.
“They have trucks going to terminal markets daily,” he said. “It’s seven to eight days door to door.”
While the train makes its way across the country, Bartolotta and his staff are busy finding buyers.
“We always have celery rolling no matter what the market is, and we’re working on it as it’s rolling east,” he said.