J&K Fresh values long-lasting customer relationships
J&K Fresh, a division of 721 Logistics, specializes in providing customs brokerage services to importers of fresh produce, working with various government agencies assisting produce importers in navigating through the multi-layered clearance process.
The process requires pertinent and current knowledge of CBP border security, customs entry, agriculture quarantine, food and drug including bioterrorism and food safety, and coordination with the inspection facilities and logistic providers.
John Ercolani, vice president of J&K Fresh’s eastern division, located in Philadelphia, noted the biggest buzz in 2022 is just keeping up with the current volume coming into the whole country, especially the Northeast.
“There’s been an influx of cargo here, and it’s been that way for a while,” he said. “That’s due to a combination of general growth, the worldly affairs going on right now, and new ships and volumes coming from the West Coast due to poor congestion. It’s been a whirlwind these past 18 months ensuring the volume comes through the port effectively.”
A big challenge is the cost on importers and their growers, so trying to keep the cost off the fruit has been something that the company works hard to do.
So, while business has been challenging, it’s been busy, and that’s important to the company.
“There certainly hasn’t been a shortage of issues in the supply chain,” Ercolani said. “There are issues that we deal with every single day. Businesses are moving toward seven days a week, 365 days a year of coordination and efforts to move the product through the supply chain, but there’s been no shortages of extreme supply chain challenges and a lot of additional land at cost on the fruit coming from the ocean carriers.”
J&K Fresh’s customer base extends back several generations, with Ercolani having worked with most of his customers for more than 20 years. His mentors before him and generations before them, have another 40 years of history with current customers.
“We grow with them,” Ercolani said. “As they capture more of the market share and their volumes grow, we grow with them. The teams have grown larger for both our customers and our team to handle all the particulars and challenges with the supply chain.”
Operating a division in Philadelphia is vital for import programs, and the Ercolani family has been involved in produce in the city for more than four decades.
“The warehouses and the infrastructure have grown up around these import deals, and to me, Philadelphia is the birthplace for many of these successful import programs. It used to be a 26-week program, but it’s grown to 52 weeks per year,” Ercolani said. “I don’t know if every port in the country can say that, but in Philadelphia, that’s the heart of the program and the foundation.”
In 2022, J&K Fresh is engaging in an all-out effort to continue to take care of its customer base.
“Our motto has always been, we partner with our customer base, and we have long-standing relationships that we treasure,” Ercolani said. “For us, that is our focus and where our continued effort is focused on. That comes from honest communication and transparency and working hard and going battle for them every day.”