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Winebow is the largest importer of Italian wines in the U.S. The Montvale, N.J.-based company represents 75 Italian wine producers and ships to wholesale customers all over the U.S. It is also a wine distributor in its own right with a portfolio of more than 3,000 wines from all over the world that it ships to retailers and other customers in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. Shipping patterns for the two sides of the business are quite different. For its distributor business, Winebow brings in an increasing amount of product from wineries in California and elsewhere on the West Coast. With shortages of reliable, low-cost truckload service across the country - not to mention problems finding drivers - Winebow has turned to boxcar rail service for its volume shipments.
While many shippers complain bitterly about yard congestion, equipment shortages and poor rail service, especially in the West, Winebow's traffic manager, inbound logistics, Elaine Clouse, says that the rail service has been very good.
"It's a matter of managing the entire transportation process, so we depend on the Hub Group to handle the door-to-door moves," she says.
Clouse explains that Hub arranges special insulated boxcars that she calls "CyroCars" to be delivered to warehouses at various wineries on the West Coast. Nearly all have rail sidings. Full pallets are loaded onto the cars at the shippers' warehouses. The railcars move directly to a Hub cross-dock facility in South Kearny, N.J., where the pallets are transloaded onto trucks and shuttled to Winebow's nearby DC.
"Door-to-door service is 10 days," says Clouse. "We have no problems with delays or damage. Hub keeps us informed about changes in estimated delivery times."
Winebow also uses intermodal service from the West Coast, but only for its mixed loads that have to be deconsolidated at its New Jersey DC. For these intermodal shipments it depends on Western Carriers to ship containers across country on APL's Pacer stacktrain service.
For volume shipments, however, Clouse says that the boxcar service is much more economical.
"We can load 3,800 cases versus only 1,200 in a trailer or container," says Clouse. "Since we can get more than three times the volume in one shipment, the boxcar service is ideal for our needs."
"With Hub managing the rail shipments, we consistently received high levels of customer service," says Clouse. "Their account reps are competent and keep us informed. The pricing structure is very competitive. What more could we ask?"
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