Every Monday and Wednesday morning at 5.00, you’ll find nine contractors from Kiwi Express working alongside the Freshmax team, carefully packing over 69,000 pieces of fruit and vegetables at Freshmax’s Mt Wellington warehouse.
An hour or so later, they’re on the road, delivering that fresh produce to 53 schools across the south and west of Auckland, right down to Mercer.
Giving kids a jump start on healthy eating.
It’s all part of the government’s Fruit in Schools programme. This initiative, which kicked off in 2005, gives kids a jump-start in healthy eating and lifestyle choices by providing them with fresh fruit every day.
Freshmax secured the contract to supply schools in the south and west of Auckland on Mondays and Wednesdays.
With delivery runs being made two days a week and completed by mid-morning, it didn’t make much economic sense for Freshmax to invest in a fleet of dedicated trucks and drivers.
So they looked for a trusted freight partner instead – with “trusted” being the operative word.
They said that one of the vans was too full on one of the runs, but they solved the problem. The girl at our end wasn’t even aware that there was a problem because I’d given Kiwi [Express] the authority to respond. I really appreciate it.
Imports Administrator, Freshmax
“Freshmax places a lot of trust in our whole team,” says Dillon Lazarus, one of the Fleet Managers at Kiwi Express. That trust isn’t just about efficiency and on-time deliveries, although that’s obviously high on the agenda.
Integrity and honesty also play a major part. Deliveries are made early, often before teachers and staff have arrived, so drivers use swipe cards to gain access to the school buildings.
“It’s a true partnership approach,” says Dillon. Freshmax relies on Kiwi Express to handle everything from go to whoa. “If any issues arise, they trust us to get it sorted quickly and efficiently.”
Naera Brooke, Imports Administrator at Freshmax agrees. “I’ve geared up Kiwi to be proactive for me. I don’t want to hear about problems; I just want to hear that they have been fixed.”
She cites an example where she returned from holiday and checked in with Kiwi on how things went in her absence. “They said that one of the vans was too full on one of the runs, but they solved the problem. The girl at our end wasn’t even aware that there was a problem because I’d given Kiwi the authority to respond. I really appreciate it.”
The systems for a smooth operation.
Kiwi Express has put systems in place to make sure things continue to run smoothly for a job that isn’t exactly run-of-the-mill.
Take those early morning starts for example. Kiwi Express regularly rotates the nine drivers to ensure the team remains as fresh as the produce they’re handling.
“This has the added benefit of giving us a good depth of knowledge right across the company,” Lazarus explains. This same depth of knowledge applies to the Kiwi Express after hours team as well.
“We’re available 24/7,” says Dillon. “If Freshmax needs any gaps filled outside of our regular schedules, we can always get a driver onto the job who fully understands the client’s requirements.”
Drivers are screened before being assigned to Freshmax, “to ensure they’re in synch with the client and the workload.” They then go through a detailed induction process on-site.
Knowledge and flexibility.
This knowledge is key in a job where the work is as varied as the fruit and vegetables being delivered.
The seasonality of the produce means the team could be packing apples one day and watermelons the next. Not only does that affect how the various produce is packed and handled – the drivers also need to be able to make an accurate call as to what size vehicle will be required on the day. After all, watermelons take up a lot more room than apples.
Naera is happy with the way things have been going since the contract was awarded to Kiwi Express. “They get things sorted, they have quick response times, they answer phones efficiently and all the operators I talk to can give me an answer. It works for me.”