Leading Distributor of Convenience Store Products Maximizes Space and Flexibility with UNEX Systems
With a warehouse space crunch jeopardizing growth opportunities, Pine State Trading Co. decided to make a big move and flex for the future.
More than 5,000 convenience stores in the New England region and New York depend on Pine State Trading Co. to deliver a variety of products to fill their shelves – from salads to cigarettes. “We distribute items of all shapes and sizes, and our stock can change frequently,” says Steve Mitchell, Director of Operations at Pine State Trading Co. “To keep up with customer demands, our distribution center must run efficiently and flawlessly.”
Out of Space
Founded in 1941 as a small family-owned business, Pine State Trading Co. has evolved into a prominent distributor for the region’s convenience stores. In 2011, the company faced a significant challenge: “We were completely out of space at our distribution facility and were even renting additional storage facilities,” says Steve. Meanwhile, the company was projecting a 50% increase in volume. “We needed a place where we could grow.”
In 2012, the company located a larger facility in Gardiner, Maine,and brought in St. Onge, a supply chain and engineering logistics firm, to design the ideal warehouse system. Pine State Trading Co. also brought in Mark Goldstein, President of Coastal Equipment Corporation, to help select the right equipment to accommodate the existing 10,000 SKUs and leave plenty of room for growth in the future.
Flow Bed and Span-Track from UNEX turned out to be critical pieces of the puzzle.
Finding a Flexible Solution
Pine State Trading Co.’s list of inventory is extensive and diverse. Candy, beverages, paper products, automotive supplies, deli sandwiches, dairy, and health and beauty items are among the company’s growing list of stock.
“Storing and picking such a wide variety of products can present a number of challenges,” says Mark. “We had to find the right mix of carton flow systems to optimize space and allow us to quickly respond to customers’ needs.”
That “right mix” included a full-width roller carton system for products that have consistent carton sizes, such as cases of cigarettes, and a highly flexible, universal wheel bed carton flow solution that allows workers to quickly slot products of varying sizes, such as candy and grocery items, into any location without having to change or move equipment.
On the Right Track
After looking at a number of carton flow systems, Mark recommended UNEX’s Span-Track and Flow Bed, offering considerable benefits for Pine State Trading Co. Ultimately, UNEX installed 561 levels of Span-Track and 568 levels of Flow Bed at the Pine State Trading Co. facility. UNEX also reused hundreds of lanes of Span-Track that had been in place for years at the previous facility and remained in great condition.
Reusing existing Span-Track created cost-savings for Pine State Trading Co., and so did the structural integrity of Flow Bed. “Without the strength of the Flow Bed side channels, we would have had to install intermediate support beams, which would have been costly and taken up much-needed space,” Mark explains.
Steve says the design and implementation of the Flow Bed system was “flawless – we did not have a single issue during the process.”Products were shipped on time, materials were well-pack-aged and easy to unload. “UNEX delivered as promised,” says Steve. “Now, if our sales reps come to me with a new product line for our customers, I have the space and the flexibility to turn things around quickly.”