Bent Dietrich, NCA Next Genner and Coffee Trader with the American Coffee Corporation, recently sat down with Janet Colley, Vice President of the Dupuy Group, for her take on the history of Dupuy Group, the current logistics landscape for coffee, Covid-19’s impact on the supply chain, and more.
Before we get to the scary part (supply chain crises – *gulp*), tell us a little about yourself, and about the Dupuy Group.
My great grandfather, John Dupuy, started Dupuy Storage & Forwarding in New Orleans in July of 1936. My dad still has one of his business cards that says, “Coffee Exclusively.” Dupuy has been dedicated to the coffee industry for almost 90 years. I proudly represent the 4th generation of ownership. My Dad, Allan, is still the current President / CEO. We are the last two remaining family members currently working for Dupuy. It is a great source of pride for me to be able to continue representing such a longstanding and well-respected company.
The warehousing industry has been one of those silent pillars in the supply chain that never really shut down during the pandemic. How did Covid impact Dupuy at the outset of the pandemic? What was the initial response?
Thankfully, Dupuy has been blessed with extremely committed and loyal workers. However, as the pandemic progresses, we are certainly starting to feel the labor issues that are plaguing the industry. Wages are going up, available skilled labor is harder to find, and we have unfortunately started to feel the pain of these challenges. We are working hard to make sure to create and maintain an inviting and stable culture for our team.
How has Dupuy been impacted by the supply chain bottlenecks, starting with the back-ups at the ports? How has that changed over the past several months?
Once again, these are challenges that we have started to see recently. Unfortunately, it is generally our customers (importers, roasters) who are affected the most, so we are doing our best to mitigate those issues as best we can. Trucking shortages, port equipment unavailability… these are just a few examples of problems that we are being asked to help solve on a daily basis. As we all know, these are issues that are prevalent coast to coast, port to port.
So once the coffee has arrived at Dupuy’s warehouses, I know Dupuy is active in blending, sampling, and performing other services for your clients. Have these services been significantly delayed or affected by today’s logistical climate?
As a matter of fact, the demand for our value-added services has increased significantly and has remained steady for several months. It has been a very interesting trend to watch.
Throughout the economy, we see costs going up. As a coffee trader, I see the coffee futures market up double compared to last year. Freight rates have tripled or more, and differentials are higher. Long story short, the cost of doing business has gone up significantly. Has this been the case for Dupuy? If so, what has changed?
Absolutely. In the service industry, we see price increases in almost every aspect of our business. From insurance to stretch wrap to pallets, prices are rising consistently, and we are having to pass some of those costs along to our customers, unfortunately. No one in customer service likes to raise prices, but we do take comfort knowing that we are certainly not alone.
What changes have you seen on the trucking and transportation side?
I’ll probably give the standard answer of anyone in any logistics-based business these days… fewer drivers, higher prices – “’nuff said”!
With bottlenecks and shipping delays making news headlines and thereby increasing consumer awareness, are there any other challenges that aren’t widely reported that the warehouses have had to overcome?
I honestly think that everyone these days is familiar with the issues that we encounter in our industry. From the exporter to the importer to the consumer, no one is immune from the truth. We are not experiencing anything that any other service provider is not.
What is one thing about the Dupuy (or about coffee warehouses in general) that you wish more people knew?
I love telling the story of Dupuy. I love that we are family owned and operated. And I love for people to know our history. In addition to our history, I want people to see our vision and our future. We are not just a warehouse. We are not just four walls with people unloading, storing, and loading. We are a partner in this industry. We are a vital part of the supply chain and we can offer services that defy the traditional perception of a “warehouse.”