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Wolseley - Navigating changing market demands

Wolseley North America knows that professional contractors won’t delay a job for out-of-stock materials — they’ll turn to another supplier.

And after being let down once, they may defect for good and take their business — far more lucrative than the home improvement "weekend warrior" segment — elsewhere. That’s why the company, one of the largest industrial supply conglomerates in the Western Hemisphere and part of Britain-based Wolseley PLC, relies on UPS and UPS Freight to keep its shelves stocked and its supply chain running smoothly.

An industry in flux
Wolseley NA consists of Ferguson Enterprises, a plumbing supply house, Stock Building Supply, which serves residential and industrial contractors, and Wolseley Canada, which distributes building materials, lumber products and plumbing supplies in the Canada market. The company powers its showrooms and wholesale sales locations with nine distribution centers spread across the United States. Most critical for the company’s success is getting products where they need to be, when they need to be there.

"On-time delivery to our branches is the biggest priority," said Brad Marsh, Director of Transportation for Wolseley North America. "Many of our shipments from the DCs are next-day deliveries." For this reason, Wolseley knew that a dedicated truckload (TL) solution in which the company would own the capacity would help them provide better service to their branches, regardless of market demand and capacity fluctuations.

The company also knew it needed a solution that would help its distribution and transportation network quickly adapt to changes in volume. This was critical since the construction industry can be cyclical, with periods of high intensity during which players who are not prepared to meet demand get left behind.

To help the company deliver superior service while also giving them the flexibility to adapt to changing market needs, Wolseley knew it needed a dedicated carrier. "When you contract out to another
carrier during a down market, you have to wonder what will happen when the market comes back," Marsh said. "We have at different times in our industry seen spikes in demand and shipping. We knew we needed a strong dedicated carrier that could help us manage our business efficiently and deliver the best service — through all market cycles."

UPS Freight® delivers
Wolseley had relied on Overnite Corporation, which was purchased by UPS in 2005, for its TL freight needs for years — and was Overnite’s largest U.S. customer. Today, UPS Freight provides dedicated TL capacity for Wolseley to make sure products are indeed where they need to be, when they need to be there.

"Every distribution center has an onsite UPS dispatcher and manager that takes care of all loads outbound and inbound from distributors and other locations," said Marsh. "UPS Freight Truckload drivers can start as early as 1 a.m. and be at their destination the same morning."

UPS Freight also helped Wolseley with a backhaul issue that was costing the company valuable time and money in getting products to its customers. Trucks had often been making the trip back from Wolseley facilities empty — wasting both time and fuel. Wolseley and UPS realized that some of Wolseley’s business partners also had TL freight needs, and through smart routing could avoid trips with empty truckloads. Wolseley partners soon began using UPS Freight, and empty trucks became a rare sight on the roads to and from Wolseley facilities.

In addition to relying on UPS for its freight needs, less than a year after UPS purchased Overnite, Wolseley began leveraging UPS’s small package expertise for some of its brands and businesses, including using UPS Quantum View® software to track packages. And in 2007, Wolseley began working with UPS Supply Chain Solutions to track inbound ocean freight shipments from its suppliers to the U.S. market.

Wolseley speeds ahead
Since it began working with UPS Freight, Wolseley has seen improved efficiencies across its system, thanks to fewer empty trips trucks now make when traveling to and from the company’s distribution
centers. It has also seen on-time performance at the highest levels in the company’s history.

"On-time delivery to our customers is our first focus," Marsh said. "Thanks to our partnership with UPS, we’re able to give our branches outstanding service at all times."

UPS has also helped Wolseley quickly adapt to changes in volume. "With such a strong dedicated carrier, we don’t have to worry about ramping up capacity to meet spikes in demand. UPS is able to cover those exceptional times for us while enhancing our service to our customers."

Last, but certainly not least, Wolseley has realized numerous advantages from having access to the entire UPS network, including broad logistics and supply chain expertise, improved reliability, superior technology tools and access to the company’s worldleading package network.

Technology access is a benefit the company can literally "see," thanks to the superior shipment tracking capabilities gained from UPS Quantum View and UPS Flex® Global View. "In addition to small
package and ground freight shipments, we can also track international ocean freight shipments so we can see where shipments are on the ocean and estimate the delivery to our door," Marsh said.

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