Nebraskaland implements new technology and a truck-loading system that results in customer and employee satisfaction.
By Janice Hoppe
As the largest meat distributor in the New York metropolitan market, Nebraskaland continuously looks for ways to improve its customer service and increase efficiency. “We are on a good path; incorporating technology has been our strong point and we will keep looking to do that,” Executive Vice President Daniel Romanoff says.
The Bronx, N.Y.-based variety meats distributor in February implemented an electronic proof-of-delivery system that Romanoff says has received rave reviews from its drivers and customers. “In the past, we printed out invoices and drivers would require the invoice signed by the customer,” he explains. “To make adjustments, our drivers would have to cross out an item and bring it back to our accounting department for approval and customer credits.”
Today, Nebraskaland drivers bring handheld devices to customer accounts where approved edits can be made on the device. The customers can sign the tablet and invoices are automatically emailed to them, which saves time and money. “It saves paper, time and makes us more efficient and very clean,” Romanoff adds. “It’s an excellent process for us.”
Customers are impressed with the new electronic proof-of-delivery system made by Mobile Conductor because it has simplified their ordering process.
For example, when wrong items are ordered or a customer changes their mind about a product, it never appears on the invoice.
“We can adjust the invoice during the delivery process and customers are very happy to receive a corrected invoice immediately without the extensive back office verification process,” Romanoff says.
It is Nebraskaland’s goal to provide “the highest quality in service to supermarkets in the Northeast,” Romanoff says. Because of this, the company also integrated the Retalix management software into its systems to streamline operations at its 101,000-square-foot warehouse located in the Bronx. Retalix automated many of the company’s systems and connected every department, providing employees with more information and improving efficiency.
“We are continuing to be a technology leader in our industry,” Romanoff says. “We have the ability to service our customers at a higher level with the new tools we have.”
Nebraskaland also implemented a paperless, voice-automated picking system, which has improved efficiency and accuracy of the orders. “The new system definitely has made us more organized,” Romanoff says. “We have the same workforce size – even with a heavier workload because we’re growing.”
The company receives product directly from the packers, and nothing sits on the shelf for long. Every person at the company is responsible for quality. “Everyone at Nebraskaland believes that for us to grow our quality is top priority, whether that involves procuring meat, stacking pallets or any function in between,” Romanoff says.
In addition to adding an automated routing system and GPS systems to its 55-truck fleet to expedite deliveries, Nebraskaland also lowered the cubing on its trucks.
“Meat boxes are heavy and hard to unload, which sometimes causes the bottom box to get damaged,” Romanoff says. “Lowering the cubing allows us to make more and earlier deliveries. It’s easier to unload, the boxes arrive in better condition and the process allows us to deliver a higher level of service.”
Nebraskaland has always supplied all-natural meat, but Romanoff explains it has become more prevalent over the past five years. “We are staying ahead of it and finding the areas where our customers are most in need for it,” he adds.
Romanoff explains that larger producers such as Perdue are changing their models to offer a more natural line by raising antibiotic-free and vegetable-fed chicken. The company expects pricing will become more manageable as more producers supply all-natural lines. Nebraskaland hosts regular meetings, attends trade shows and sends out bulletins to inform its customers about the all-natural lines that are available.
“We have a certain customer base that has always carried the product,” Romanoff says. “There are some stores that never have carried all-natural, but because the neighborhoods are changing they may now need those products. They might not know which items are best for their community and we help them with that.”
In addition to helping customers choose all-natural products, Nebraskaland also prides itself on sharing market trends with its customers. For example, small herd sizes have been an issue for about two years, causing beef prices to skyrocket and become unaffordable. Poultry and pork prices on the other hand, are the lowest they have been in years.
“Since beef has become less affordable many retailers are reacting by promoting more chicken and pork on sale,” Romanoff says.
The market change has not significantly impacted Nebraskaland’s business, but Romanoff says it is still important for the company to be cognizant of it and know why it happens. “The difference for us has been a transition in volume from beef to chicken and pork,” he says. “As the beef producers rebuild the herds, the prices will come down and the retailers will sell more beef.”
Nebraskaland is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and memorializing it by offering 25 “big blowout sales” in 2015. “We are hosting this big sales program as a way to give back to the customers as a thank you for helping us get to where we are today,” Romanoff says.
Richard Romanoff founded Nebraskaland in 1989 and named the company after the state that ranks first in commercial red meat production and second for having the most cattle and cows. Richard Romanoff’s grandfather had a beef business in Nebraska, which inspired the company’s name.
Today, Nebraskaland offers a full line of boxed beef, chicken, pork, lamb, veal and variety meats, as well as a full selection of processed foods. In addition to being a leader in its region’s meat distribution market and the largest variety meats distributor in the tri-state area, the company is one of the top-200 privately held operations, according to Crain’s New York Business.