Sunrise Logistics reaps benefits from expansion
In July of 2022, Sunrise Logistics warehouse expansion of 135,000 square feet in Ephrata, PA, went fully live. Since then, the company has seen substantial growth from both existing customers and in the development of new third-party users.
Chris Bohn, senior business development manager for Sunrise, which is under the umbrella of the Four Seasons Family of Cos., said the company is already focusing its sales effort on strategic partners with a year-round program as the capacity is filling up. “We don’t have the next expansion on the drawing board yet, but we are joking about the need to do so,” he said.
He offered that the additional space included a new 28-degree cold storage room and a 32-degree dock to maintain the cold chain for a host of items. “The 32-degree dock has allowed us to offer a year-round berry distribution service,” he said, noting that some berry shippers want to maintain that temperature throughout the supply chain journey.
The 28-degree cold storage room has helped Sunrise expand its services to independent retailers and other customers who can now use the facility to include some food items that have colder temperature requirements than your typical fresh produce packs.
Bohn added that the addition of a dedicated shipping and receiving dock has given greater flexibility to its customers, as it has allowed for the opening up of many more dock appointments for either incoming or outgoing merchandise. “Customer interest has been very high in our capabilities,” he said.
Sunrise Logistics has seen a rise in its business even as the logistics space has seen a slowdown in activity. “It has become apparent that we reached the ceiling in movement and in freight rates in Q3 of 2022,” Bohn said. “Since then, there has been a downturn in rates to the point that they are now about as low as they can go.”
He said Sunrise Logistics believes that the current rate level is creating a market that will be very reactive moving forward. “Carriers are barely covering their costs, so we expect to see some spikes in freight rates for any reason as carriers search for extra income,” he said.
Bohn does not anticipate a summer of high prices in cross-country rates from the West Coast produce shipping districts. “There is enough slack in the market with many carriers looking for loads that we expect only a small increase in freight rates this summer,” Bohn said.
He reasoned that the continual raising of interest rates by the Federal Reserve Board has had the anticipated effect of cooling the economy. Bohn revealed that the extreme supply shortage of goods following the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 and lasting through 2021 helped create the heavy demand for freight in 2022. He argued that manufacturers juiced their capacity to make sure they had ample supplies in 2022. Those supplies were shipped to warehouses all over the country to replenish inventory, which helped create the demand exceeds supply situation in the trucking space. The cooling of the economy has reduced orders and, combined with full warehouses, has decreased the demand for freight in 2023, leading to the downturn in rates.
Sunrise Logistics has been relying on its expansive list of services to keep its operation humming. Bohn indicated that its LTL (less than full load) service is fairly recession proof. LTL shipments are a mainstay in the produce industry and continue to do well even as a cooling economy reduces orders from full loads to LTL. He said Sunrise has a dedicated fleet of trucks that handles a large number of LTL deliveries from its Pennsylvania warehouse facility to customers throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. He said that business thrives on consistent pallet volume, which also tends to define what occurs when the economy slows down a bit.