The most significant operational changes have we made during this down economy is learning to shop local. As a specialty food company it has long been important to us to ship fresh product, ensuring the longest possible shelf life for the end consumer. This translates to producing to order. When the economy went into a free fall in September of 2008 we found that the orders we were getting in were all needed in hands yesterday. We met this challenge by shopping local.
All business is valuable to us, so to meet the distributors need we had to supplement our list of suppliers with more local companies who could turn our orders quickly and deliver in no time. It did not always mean we got the best price for a raw material, but it did allow us to meet a deadline. Our suppliers are just as valuable to us as our customers. Loyalty to both groups is a mandate for Terra Americana. But there are times when you don't know how good you have it until you try something else. Finding new local vendors taught us to really value a portion our existing base. It also taught us the comfort in knowing you can get raw materials from one suppliers does not always mean you are getting the best value for your money or service.
The experience has been a win/win endeavor. We have been able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save on shipping costs. It has also given us a new perspective on vendor relations. Sometimes you need to be forced out of your comfort zone for find the best way forward.
Photo Credit: FoodGPS.com