Paul Marshall Produce overcoming delivery challenges
Paul Marshall Produce services lanes across the East Coast and mid-Atlantic, working directly with local and regional growers and manufacturers.
“We excel in servicing the seasonal produce push here in the Northeast from June through April,” said Jamie Marshall, logistics manager for the Batavia, NY-based company. “Through transparency, we’ve been able to build strong partnerships with customers in the area.”
A secret to the company’s success is clear communication when conflict arises, with Marshall noting that it inevitably does in the transportation industry, and that communication fosters trust towards the organization, not only from customers but also from its valued drivers.
“Our mechanics, and our drivers are truly what makes our small company outpace any competition within upstate New York,” Marshall said. “From industry knowledge, our skilled mechanics and our experienced drivers, we provide our customer relations, build our stories, and create a timeless legacy that allows us to provide a trusted platform and a get the job done.”
The past year has seen a higher demand for freight in both local and regional markets, and Paul Marshall Produce has experienced a much more contracted business compared to spot market freight.
“That’s allowed for efficient round trip scheduling, leading to higher driver retention,” Marshall said.
“At the beginning of COVID-19, it was tough to navigate driver safety as they are typically in contact with various shippers and receivers on a daily basis. Adjustments needed to be made on how we operated as a company, minimizing risk as best we could for the drivers.”
But it’s been challenging just the same. During the peak of the pandemic, the company found difficulty getting drivers into New York City.
“Between concern for drivers’ safety and limited operating hours at Hunts Point Produce Market, it was difficult to get freight into the area,” Marshall said. “During most of last year and into this year, we saw many shipments for government food box programs.”
Additionally, with driver shortages in the mix, the company’s biggest problem is that its professional drivers are aging out of the industry which has changed the pace of many lanes and routes that it runs.
“Making a pivot to lanes older drivers can manage while allowing new drivers to learn from seasoned veterans and grow into experienced drivers has helped limit future challenges,” Marshall said. “I believe freight will stay high as we experience a continued shortage of new drivers into the produce industry.”
Then there’s the challenges of adapting to tandem lots closing in New York due to a new tolls system, the local county looking to install traffic circles just outside its terminal which is unfeasible for an 18-wheeler, and more.
“As a company, we continue to adapt to ever-changing regulations,” Marshall said. “With short lead times and highly perishable freight, hours of service have made it challenging to service certain lanes. Due to all the government and state regulations, it has made it difficult to fill empty equipment. We will continue to adapt to these changes. We always keep our eyes and ears out for new drivers to join our fleet.”
Working in upstate New York is important to the company as its ancestors have farmed for 13 generations.
“We’ve been working in transportation since 1957, hauling water to locals cisterns then leading into hauling apples to Duffy-Mott, tomatoes to Hunts, Ragu Spaghetti Sauce, Rich Products , Holly Cold Storage, and in 1985, we hit the ground running with Torrey Farms,” Marshall said.
“Where Paul, my father, was able to see opportunity in upstate New York agriculture, we’ve grown to know the lanes and business transitions in the area,” she continued. “We are proud to have been a part of the boom and work as hard as we can to keep industry alive. It’s truly a humbling time of the year when we are shipping fresh products to major customers knowing it came from the hard workers of rural upstate.”
Photo: Paul Marsahll and his daughter, Jamie Marshall.