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Sunrise Logistics set to open major warehouse expansion in June

Sunrise Logistics, which is under the umbrella of the Four Seasons Family of Cos., is poised to open a major warehouse expansion at its headquarters in Ephrata, PA, in June.

Chris Bohn
Chris Bohn

The expansion will almost double its cold storage and warehouse capacity and allow it to further grow its third-party logistics business and expand to new supplier segments. Chris Bohn, senior business development manager for Sunrise, said an open house to celebrate the expansion will be held at the facility on May 21, prior to the June “go live” opening.

The 14-month construction project has produced about 135,000 square feet of additional space, including a new 28 degree cold storage room and a 32 degree dock to maintain the cold chain for a host of items, including berries. He said the colder storage room will allow Sunrise to offer frozen food storage to its existing customers as well as expanding its offerings to new customers. Bohn said some produce suppliers have expanded into new food categories that require the lower temperature.

Speaking of the planning process, the Sunrise executive said the expansion had been on the drawing board before COVID-19 and the increase in business during that past two years “kept us pushing forward with the project.” He added that while it was originally designed to cover the demand for its services for many years, “it’s not going to be as long as we thought.”

CEO Jason Hollinger said, “Our customers are growing and so are we. This expansion is 100 percent a result of our team’s dedication to our customers' success. As we help our associates and customers succeed, we are able to grow together.”

 The ground breaking of Sunrise's new facility.
 The ground breaking of Sunrise Logistics' new warehouse expansion.

He added that one of the driving motivations for the expansion is to increase daytime work within the warehouse and improve the family life balance for its employees.  “The additional space will allow us to pull more work to the daytime, reducing our need for so much nighttime work, which is not ideal for the body or a family life over the long-term.”

Bohn noted that Sunrise Logistics was established in 2006 to both provide in-house services for the product secured, sold and delivered by Four Seasons, and to offer 3PL services to the produce industry at large. That original strategy has proven prophetic as Sunrise has robust business handling logistics for Four Seasons as well as offering storage and logistics services for produce suppliers all over the country.

“We handle a large number of LTL (less than full load) deliveries to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions with a dedicated fleet of trucks,” he said, adding that Sunrise also handles full load shipments all over the country.

Bohn said its unique service is the offering of its cold storage facilities as a freight forwarding distribution hub in the East for produce suppliers across the country, and combining that with the ability to then handle the logistics in delivering the product to the end buyer.  

Sunrise Logistics offers supply chain services such as cross-docking, storage, packing and other distribution management aspects to the perishables industry, with expertise in produce items like berries, avocados and packaged salads.

The logistics firm has a fleet of more than 120 refrigerated trucks and tractor-trailers fulfilling warehouse and direct-to-store deliveries throughout 12 nearby states.

The warehouse expansion includes a 48,000-square-foot multi-temperature receiving dock with 39 added dock doors; 72,000 square feet of cold storage with four-high racking with more than 6,000 added pallet spaces; 10 unique temperature zones suited for fresh produce, including ripening rooms for bananas and avocados; and a 28 degree “chill” zone for the growing organic and natural meat and poultry category.

Bohn said while the supply chain management world for all goods has gone through many well-publicized challenges in the past couple of years, he noted the produce industry has fared much better. The very basic nature of the product is one reason the perishable supply chain has performed very well.

He explained that manufactures of durable goods spent the last two years trying to catch up because of disruptions in the supply chain. One strategy they pursued was to increase the manufacturing of goods and attempt to position them closer to market to reduce the supply chain issues. This effort, however, put immense pressure on the supply chain, which impacted all sectors. Bohn said analysts are seeing a slowdown in the use of this strategy, which is easing the pressure.

The basic nature of a perishable product, such as fresh produce, typically does not allow for long-term storage so the pressure was not as great on the facilities and the refrigerated trucks that specialize in this business.  However, independent owner-operators, which are the backbone of the produce industry, continue to reap the benefits of higher truck rates. Bohn said it is the larger carriers, which tend to specialize in other goods, that have seen the driver shortages and severe supply chain issues.

Though he was unwilling to make a prediction written in stone, Bohn said, “We don’t see a continued escalation in rates moving forward. We are not expecting a big spike like we saw earlier in the year.”

He noted that one of the advantages of Sunrise Logistics is that it can leverage its storage capacity and outbound shipping volume to secure better rates and offer equipment in challenging times. Bohn believes this is one of the main reasons it has seen continued growth in its 3PL business from produce suppliers across the country.

Tim Linden

Tim Linden

About Tim Linden  |  email

Tim Linden grew up in a produce family as both his father and grandfather spent their business careers on the wholesale terminal markets in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Tim graduated from San Diego State University in 1974 with a degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter he began his career at The Packer where he stayed for eight years, leaving in 1983 to join Western Growers as editor of its monthly magazine. In 1986, Tim launched Champ Publishing as an agricultural publishing specialty company.

Today he is a contract publisher for several trade associations and writes extensively on all aspects of the produce business. He began writing for The Produce News in 1997, and currently wears the title of Editor at Large.

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