The Golden Touch
By JENNIFER ZEGLER
Gold Coast’s daily routine ensures highest service levels
The entrance to Gold Coast Beverage Distributor’s Pompano Beach facility resembles a five-star resort more than a beer distributor. Yet instead of elaborate suites and refreshing pools, it houses elegant offices and a warehouse that resembles a retail store. Located on 23 acres of land in the company’s Northern division, the 350,000-square-foot building was redone three and a half years ago.
The North division’s facility is the largest single facility in Gold Coast’s holdings, which total 770,000 square feet of warehouse space. Its South division comprises warehouses in Miami-Dade county and Homestead, Fla. Homestead’s growth-friendly 60,000-square-foot facility also serves Gold Coast’s customers in the Florida Keys. Despite Pompano’s size, the company has noticed an advantage in having regionally located facilities, explains Alfonso Fernandez, chief operating officer.
“We are finding that it is important to have geographically centered warehouses vs. one big, huge warehouse from which drivers need to travel many, many square miles,” Fernandez says. “Obviously because of costs, such as fuel, insurance, staffing and traffic jams you’re exposed to every day, it helps to have hubs where we’re closer to market.”
In both its North and South divisions, Gold Coast separates its sales force into three segments, explains Felix Williams, executive vice president. An on-premise division covers the more than 3,000 on-premise accounts. For off-premise, which are around 4,000 accounts, the company has a large-format division that focuses on grocery and club stores and a small-format division, which is dedicated to convenience stores and independent customers.
Though the sales force is divided into specialties, the process of selling is the same. Case, draft and wine orders are all pre-sold for a one-day turnaround. Salespeople use handheld machines to transmit orders, which are downloaded to each branch. The orders are given geographic coding by the company’s employee router, who uses logistics software to plan the routes, generate invoices and pick tickets. Pick tickets are given to the night supervisor who assigns the loading.
The nightshift then gets to work picking the day’s orders. Orders, often shrinkwrapped pallets, are bulk packed for large-format deliveries. Williams explains the company is trying to convert as many customers to bulk orders as possible, but most on-premise and small-format orders are delivered by side-loading trucks, which allow for smaller sizes.
Process at Pompano
At Gold Coast’s Pompano Beach facility, 12 loading bays host bulk loading, while a covered drive-through loading area shelters side-loading trucks from the elements. The semi-indoor loading dock can fit up to 30 side-loading trucks at a time, explains Emilio Caban, operations manager for the North division. The company’s fleet has 60 to 75 trucks locally, which are part of the company’s nearly 200 trucks overall.
Around 4 a.m., the orders are checked, trucks loaded and drivers dispatched on as many as 150 routes. Yet, the process is not without stragglers. For late-opening on-premise accounts, the facility dispatches a few loads around the start of normal business hours. After those dispatch, the warehouse moves into replenishment mode, Caban says.
To receive its products, the Pompano Beach facility has direct connection to rail lines for incoming shipments. Railcars arrive daily with cargo that can vary from domestic shipments to international imports, such as Corona from Mexico. The facility has the ability to unload up to 40 to 50 railcars at a time, Caban explains. Pompano Beach receives 80 percent of its inventory by rail and averages at least seven to eight cars arriving daily, he says.
In addition to rail lines, the Pompano Beach facility has 10 receiving docks located near the administrative portion of the building. This receiving area provides easy access to the wine cooler and package cooler for Coors products. At the rear of the facility, the bulk loading areas, used for loading trailers for large format accounts in the evening, are located adjacent to the facility’s keg cooler for daytime keg deliveries.
During the day, warehouse personnel work to re-stock what was depleted during the nightshift. Though the warehouse has a capacity of 1.5 million cases, replenishment is a daily process. Even during peak times, including the summer or February’s Super Bowl, which was hosted in Miami, inventory does not approach capacity, Caban explains. No matter the number of cases in stock, Caban ensures it’s well-organized.
“I try to picture and create an environment that’s almost like a retail environment for our night loaders,” Caban says. “During the day, our job is to get the place ready for the night crew and that’s a repetitious job every single day. We receive, unload, tag, rotate and check for quality control.”
Akin to the stocking process, quality checks also are an ongoing process. Drivers audit their trucks before making deliveries, Caban says.
“On occasion, you’ll find a case that is broken and our goal is to bring a quality product to the retailers,” he says. “We spend a little more time checking our products that leave here because once it’s out in the street it costs us money to put it out there so we try to make it as perfect as possible.
“One of the things that is my signature, I’ll sporadically pick a pallet of inbound freight and we disassemble the entire pallet and check for quality of the product,” Caban continues. “We don’t taste anything, but we look at the integrity of the package. We’re here to serve the retailer. If we don’t really serve the retailer that way, then our job is basically useless.”
Also within the Pompano warehouse is storage for draft equipment. For its on-premise accounts, Gold Coast has a staff of draft technicians who are in the field daily to maintain lines, rotate product and set up for events, Caban says.
Separate from the warehouse, Gold Coast stocks its point-of-sale materials in a nearby area that is stocked floor to ceiling with all the marketing materials required for its vast portfolio. Everything from table toppers to neon signs to Super Bowl signage, is kept in stock and ready for Gold Coast’s multitude of customers.