There are many ways to load plants onto a truck. The California stack, deck stack, and board stack have all been used to varying degrees by nurseries. But for Bill Dewar, the owner of Dewar Nurseries in Apopka, Fla., the best way is rack shipping.
“It’s just economics for us,” Dewar says. “We get the most payload on the trucks by using the racks. Some people still use board load for whatever reason. But for us, to maximize the dollars in the trucks, we have to use racks.”
Dewar used to use the board stack system, as well. But when his nursery converted to racks 10 years ago, it cut freight costs by 33 percent. Switching to racks also increases your payload, which decreases your total cost of shipping.
Dewar uses customizable, collapsible racks from Wellmaster. They each hold 800 pounds, but can be wheeled around the trailer easily by one driver thanks to the well-made casters.
He enjoys that there are “infinite combinations” between shelf spacing and rack spacing, and a much quicker loading and unloading process.
“It’s a lot easier doing it this way,” he says. “There’s a night and day difference.”
When a shipment arrives at its destination, there are a few different ways the process can go. Dewar’s will unload plants for a retailer and place them on their displays, or will leave the racks at the store and pick them up later. The unload option is faster and more efficient but some retailers like to sell right off the racks, so Dewar gives them that option.
“If you can drop your product and if they don’t need any other service, you can move on,” he says. “Get that load off and the driver back.”
While a return trip to collect the racks seems like it could cause a logistical nightmare, Dewar manages it by utilizing the collapsibility of the racks. His trucks can hold 26 “built” racks, but 185 racks that have been broken down without going over the truck’s weight limit.
Dewar’s truck dispatcher picks the route that makes the most sense for a rack pick-up run, the pickups are made, then the trucks come to a central point and shift racks into one trailer.
“When you dedicate a run to pick up empty racks, that’s probably the most expensive way to do it,” Dewar says. “But also if you pick up racks and bring back racks built in the trailer, say it holds 26 and you bring back 26, that’s expensive too. Weight-wise you can hold 185 broken down. We break them down to mitigate the freight cost.”
When the trucks arrive back at one of Dewar’s shipping facilities, the racks are pulled off the truck because the next load probably doesn’t have the same combination of products.
“They’re not mirror orders,” he says. “One rack might only have two shelves and the next order may need five shelves.”
He’s tried other racks, but has had problems with incorrect welds and poor galvanized dipping. He also appreciates Wellmaster’s reliability in providing him with the racks he needs when he needs them.
For more: www.dewarnurseries.com