Since 2003, ARC has been steadily growing its business with Madison, Virginia-based Plow & Hearth, a division of 1800Flowers.com. Plow & Hearth is a $30 million a year national catalog, retail, and Internet company that specializes in high quality gardening, home and leisure products.
The ARC/Plow & Hearth relationship began in early 2003 with ARC providing fulfillment work for its long-time client, Virginia Box/Pratt Industries. Pratt's client, Plow & Hearth, lacked a reliable workforce and adequate storage facilities at its Madison headquarters, so Pratt subcontracted ARC to pack, box and return ship Plow & Hearth products, warehousing the surplus material until it was needed. However, distribution also a presented a problem once the product was shipped back to Plow & Hearth's rural headquarters north of Charlottesville, and company officials began to search for possible solutions.
During 2003-2004, ARC began packing Plow & Hearth's popular product, Fatwood' at its Westwood Avenue production facility. Fat-wood is comprised of thick sticks made from tree stumps that have absorbed sap from the root systems of harvested trees, making them excellent fire-starting material. Over the next couple of years, ARC realized it could offer Plow & Hearth value-added services that would alleviate its distribution dilemma. ARC first approached its client, Virginia Box/Pratt Industries with a win-win-win solution. With Pratt's permission, ARC explained to Plow & Hearth management that ARC's strategic location near the intersection of I-95 and I-64 seemed a logical distribution center to meet their fulfillment needs. Once the Fatwood was packed, the orders could efficiently be drop-shipped nationwide directly from ARC's production facility.
The plan seemed sound, but Plow & Hearth was somewhat skeptical. After all, the best laid plans often come unglued during the execution phase, and a company the size of Plow & Hearth seemed reluctant to take risks ' especially risks involving distribution from a remote location. Could ARC handle the volume of orders? Could its production team ramp up to meet increasing fulfillment demands, especially during the busy holiday season?
The company's website, www.plowandhearth.com, received almost 70,000 unique visitors in November and December of 2006, and many of them purchased holiday gifts including Fatwood. There was well-founded concern within Plow & Hearth management about ARC's fulfillment capabilities. Fortunately, there was also well-founded faith in ARC and the work its team members performed during the previous three years, so Plow & Hearth decided to implement the 'bundled solution' Fatwood program at ARC.
According to Caroline Busick, the director of mail order and retail distribution for Plow & Hearth, the strategy 'worked out very well
with ARC in terms of (electronic) file transfers of orders, packing and direct shipping from ARC's Richmond facility.
In 2006, the company enjoyed significant increases in sales. According to Busick, Plow & Hearth shipped 100,000 more pieces in 2006 than the previous year. During the busy holiday season, 20,832 pieces were shipped by ARC. During the period from September 2006 to November 2007, a total of 36,000 cartons of product were shipped out of ARC's Westwood Avenue production facility.
Plow & Hearth operations director, Kari Stadler, noted the number represented 'significant volume' for a two-month holiday period. 'Our (Plow & Hearth) warehouse could not have handled anything additional and ARC's execution of the Fatwood Program was exceptional. It was well beyond our expectations.'
'We're very excited to be working with Plow & Hearth and we are looking forward to an even stronger relationship in the future,' said Mike Foley, ARC's new Director of Business Development. 'We're constantly looking for ways to bring even greater value to the services we provide Plow & Hearth.'
'It's a very good partnership,' added Busick. A partnership ARC will continue to cultivate and grow.
Related Links: http://www.plowandhearth.com