Robinson Fresh San Bernardino Facility Expands California and Western States’ Service

Craig Mack, director for C.H. Robinson, a third-party logistics provider based in Minnesota, told AJOT that the company’s San Bernardino, California facility is helping expand distribution of fruits and vegetables while continuing to increase imports of grapes from Peru and Chile as well as fruits and vegetables from Mexico.

David Rehnert, regional distribution center manager for CH Robinson, based in Pennsylvania, said that the San Bernardino facility is located near the I-15 and I-40 freeways providing good access to Nevada and Arizona as well as links to Southern California and Northern California customers.

Robinson is designed to service customers in the following areas:

  • Retail
  • Food Service
  • Wholesalers
  • Grower/Shipper/Manufacturer

Robinson operates facilities in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and California.

Distribution Services include:

  • Traditional Cross-Dock
  • Origin Consolidation
  • Forward Consolidation/Distribution
  • Direct Store Delivery

Rehnert said that low-cost land prices prompted the company to make a $12 million investment in the San Bernardino warehouse as opposed to a facility closer to the Los Angeles area where prices are higher.

Craig Mack noted that the company utilizes warehouse facilities close to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to transload imports of containerized foodstuffs delivered in 40-foot containers. The goods are transferred from the containers into 53-foot trailers that subsequently deliver goods to the San Bernardino warehouse for packing, sorting and final delivery to Robinson customers.

There are 37-60 people working at the San Bernardino facility based on seasonal demand.

The San Bernardino facility was rebuilt in 2012 to accommodate storage for fruits and vegetables at 35 degrees, storage facilities for fruits and vegetables with less intensive temperature requirements at 45 degrees and finally an ambient temperature facility:

  • The 35-degree storage facility includes imported grapes from Chile and Peru that are brought in under the Welch’s grape brand. Citrus such as limes and mangoes are imported from Mexico via the Robinson McAllen, Texas facility. Apples and pears are also imported for winter month consumption. There is food safety testing and quality controls for all items.
  • The 45-degree storage facility houses onions, tomatoes, potatoes, avocados and melons.
  • There is a small production facility of 4,500 square feet at San Bernardino and a 25,000 square feet facility at McAllen, Texas. At both locations company employees perform optical scanning of items for quality control, bagging, and flow wrapping of items such as peppers. Mack noted that at San Bernardino employees also package energy bars “for a customer that wants to focus on production but has contracted with Robinson for packing, trucking and e-commerce services. They also require temperature-controlled facilities. This is an early stage development for this new product.”
  • The Ambient facility currently provides storage for customers producing baby food, cookies, macadamia nuts, and food trays that require a clean food service environment.

Mack said: “Food safety and cleanliness are major priorities as well as quality control testing and making sure trucks are clean and ready to transport fruits, vegetables and other food stuffs.”

Mack and Rehnert noted that Robinson is also providing some trucking services for customers because of growing driver shortage problems nation-wide. This shortage has worsened because of new federal hours of service regulations that require rest periods for drivers and electronic logs to supervise the enforcement of the rest periods. This reduces fatigue and the risk of trucking accidents, but has had the effect of reducing hours that drivers can drive, the two men said. Robinson is providing additional driver support to fill this gap. In addition, shortages of drivers also need to be made up during holiday periods.

Robinson provides drivers with restroom facilities, a vending machine and a place to sit so that drivers can prepare for their outward-bound trip from the San Bernardino warehouse.

Mack discussed Navisphere proprietary software which Robinson customers can use to “not only monitor cross dock and consolidation moves, but also truck location status and outside factors such as hurricanes and fires impact on traffic and truck deliveries. This gives Robinson customers access to detailed status reports on deliveries. An updated version of this system, is currently being deployed, called Vision, will provide more information.”

Robinson provides Replenishment Services to customers so that in one example the company manages the bagged spinach deliveries for a customer and forecasts future quantities based on purchase order data.

The San Bernardino warehouse operates 7 days per week with two shifts and composes 104,000 square feet.

Stas Margaronis
Stas Margaronis


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