Brian Slavin brings 16 years of experience to his new role as director of logistics for La Terra Fina, Union City, Calif., and to him, it’s all about improving inventory while reducing expenses.

Refrigerated & Frozen Foods: Summarize La Terra Fina’s approach to supply chain and logistics?

Brian Slavin: It goes without saying that making sure our customers’ orders are always delivered on time and complete, at the highest quality and in the most cost-effective manner is our top priority. In addition, our approach at La Terra Fina is to ensure the accuracy of our raw material and finished goods inventory is maintained at the highest level possible, and that inventory is kept at the lowest level possible, so our carrying costs stay low—all while meeting our production requirements and customer orders.

R&FF: How is La Terra Fina’s retail supply chain function organized vs. how the foodservice supply chain function is organized?

Slavin: La Terra Fina’s retail, foodservice and club are all organized and executed in the same manner. At La Terra Fina, we utilize a single supply chain approach, and since our customer service, production planning and warehousing operations (shipping, receiving and inventory storage management) all are incorporated in the logistics department, there is extensive coordination within this group, and significant interaction with sales, marketing, purchasing and production to do whatever is required to meet customer requirements.

R&FF: Brian, you’re fairly new to the company. What are you looking to achieve?

Slavin: My main goal is to reduce La Terra Fina’s outside storage and related transportation expenses by improving inventory accuracy and increasing utilization of our internal storage facility. Additionally, we’re working to improve the already successful order fulfillment and on-time delivery rates and reduce the expenses related to our existing distribution network.

R&FF: What are you bringing to this new role?

Slavin: I have16 years of experience overseeing warehousing, shipping, receiving, customer service and purchasing in ambient, refrigerated and frozen food manufacturing. I’ve worked with some of the largest food manufacturers in the world that utilize state-of-the-art technology in their logistics processes. With my new position at La Terra Fina, I will work to continuously improve supply chain and logistics performance.

R&FF: What are some key warehousing/transportation initiatives for 2013?

Slavin: This year at La Terra Fina, we plan to increase our internal facility storage capacity by modifying existing systems and installing additional pallet racking. We’ll also be utilizing an ERP information system to more effectively [employ] our existing storage capacity and reduce outside storage expense. I’ll work to continually improve our order fulfillment to ensure an on-time delivery and decrease freight expenses by shipping more multi-stop truckloads in place of numerous LTL shipments.

R&FF: If you had to advise someone in the industry about supply chain and logistics with regard to refrigerated and frozen foods, what would you tell them?

Slavin: There still aren’t a significant number of asset-based providers supplying reliable and cost-effective national refrigerated/frozen LTL transportation coverage, which is significant for refrigerated foods suppliers in particular, due to greater temperature sensitivity and shorter shelf life of these products. It’s important to research and acquire quotes from as many suppliers as possible and qualify these suppliers thoroughly before using them, and then build detailed models to determine the most cost-effective warehousing, shipping methods and providers.

About Brian Slavin

Brian Slavin brings 25 years of management experience in the food and beverage industry, including production management roles with Coca-Cola and National Beverages. Slavin is an APICS-certified supply chain professional, and has spent the last 16 years in logistics/supply chain management positions in the natural grocery space at companies such as Nancy’s Specialty Foods, Kikkoman International and Stonyfield Farms.