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Northern California Warehousing – Girl Scouts Case Study


Girl Scouts Case Study

DISTRIBUTION LOGISTICS: Helping Girl Scouts Deliver

Girl Scouts of Northern California

For more than 15 years, Prism Logistics has served the distribution needs of the Girls Scouts of Northern California, working with vendors to systematize receipt, tracking and reporting, and with the Girl Scout council, to match orders to product and ensure delivery throughout 19 counties in Northern California on time as expected. At the end of the season for each of the Scouts’ two chief product lines: Nuts in the Fall and Cookies in the Spring, Prism provides accurate tallies of deliveries to the council for its popular ‘Recognitions’ to high – achieving troops and individual scouts. And finally, it is Prism which facilitates delivery out to the needy in SF Bay Area and surrounding communities of any remaining product – facilitating fulfillment on an even more meaningful level for the troops.


unnamed-3_1_ Northern California is in the Top Ten volume markets for Girl Scout cookies delivered in the Spring every year, and also one of the largest for Girl Scout Nuts delivered in the Fall. This year more than 4 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies moved via truck or truck/railcar combination, from the cookie manufacturer, Little Brownie Baker, a branch of Kellogg Corporation in Louisville, KY, to Prism’s facilities where they are staged for distribution, matched against troop orders, and delivered over a 5-day period to volunteers and troops in neighborhoods throughout 19 Northern California counties.

In the Fall, more than 350,000 nut items come through a similar process, originating at Ashdon Farms in Milwaukee, WI, trucked to Prism’s warehouses in Hayward, Livermore, Tracy and Stockton, CA where they break down the cases, sort by destination, match against troop orders and manage transportation to individual neighborhoods.

As troops advise the Girl Scout council that they need more product, the Girl Scouts send a delivery ticket to Prism, where a dedicated customer service representative pulls the order from the warehouse and Prism delivers the product the next day where needed. Sometimes the Scout leader needs product sooner, in which case Prism manages a ‘will call,’ function on-site at its warehouses: pulling the needed product, matching amounts and varieties against requirement in each category, and holding it for customer pick-up.

Inventory Accuracy Key to Successful Order Fulfillment

Screen_Shot_2014-08-22_at_10.35.18_AM_1_ Prism works very closely with the Girl Scout council throughout the process, and has a dedicated customer service representative (CSR) managing the Girl Scouts account to ensure performance against all key metrics mutually defined and agreed. Prism also works closely with the Girl Scouts’ product vendors: Initial bookings are handled between the baker/vendor and Prism, in a fully automated system, to advise when product is coming, and timing shipments to ensure receipt at the distribution center at least a month prior to requirement – at a volume rate approximately 110%, versus prior year, every year, to ensure sufficient product on-hand for the popular cookie sales. Prism’s team pulls product as needed, matches orders to delivery tickets and verifies against Girl Scout orders.

Screen_Shot_2014-08-22_at_10.35.24_AM_1_ Prism handles the complete San Francisco Bay Area, as far as receipt of original inbound orders and deliveries out. Once the product is delivered to outlying areas, Prism handles any replenishment needs for the SF East Bay and South Bay; from Gilroy in the South to Crescent City on the Coast. Prism sees that product gets where it’s needed. If scout troops need product in Eureka, CA, it is Prism Logistics they rely on to get product to them on time.

In 2007 the Girl Scouts of America consolidated amongst its councils for more efficiency nationwide. In Northern California, what had been five separate councils merged into the single Council of Girl Scouts of Northern California, now comprised of 19 counties from Gilroy in the south to San Jose, San Francisco, north to Marin, Napa, Chico and Eureka, plus San Francisco, the Peninsula, South Bay and the SF East Bay including Contra Costa counties – 19 counties in all.

In the same year, Prism Logistics acquired Livermore, CA based Palestro Distribution Centers and renamed the firm PDC Logistics to maintain reference to the successful family owners that served the warehousing and logistics needs of its customers for more than 30 years. The PDC team, most with the company for many, many years, is a very experienced group of professionals excited about the upgrades to facilities, systems and processes since 2007, and instrumental to the successful service for the Girl Scouts of Northern California.

Data Quality Essential for Important Incentive Awards: ‘Recognitions’

Screen_Shot_2014-08-22_at_10.35.31_AM_1_ At the end of each sale, the Girls Scout Council awards recognition and awards to individuals and troops for their sales performance that year.

Sometimes there are extra cookies and product remaining after the sales, which are held at Prism’s warehouse, for retrieval when needed. Often the Girl Scouts will sort them down and give them out to children’s hospitals, schools or other community.

Giving to the Community

Care to Give and Gift of Caring are two community service projects that the Girl Scouts support throughout the effort. During the course of sales, if scouts identify customers who would prefer to donate than to actually purchase cookies, the girls take orders for gifts to community service programs, food banks, the US military or other non-profit organizations. Customers can indicate where they’d like them delivered and Prism makes sure they’re delivered.

Says Senior Director of Product Sales for the Girl Scouts of Northern California, Samanthia Ableski, “I think the leadership they have there at Prism is a great group of people. We were with them as they were growing and have been able to grow with them. They are very community conscious. Even as Prism continues to grow with more and more warehouses throughout Northern California, community service is still very much a part of their makeup. I think Jere Van Puffelen has done a fantastic job with his family-owned business.”

Logistics Problem Solving a Prism Forte!

Every year it seems, the Girl Scout council advises that it runs into a situation where one of its other warehouses may not have enough product and don’t advise Girl Scout Operations in a timely manner. In those instances, Ableski says, “We rely on Prism to help us make sure we get product from one of their warehouses, up and out as fast as humanly possible… we’ll FedEx cases of nuts or cookies when needed, or any of the particular varieties needed, within each of those categories; Every time we’ve gotten in that kind of a situation, Prism has always been able to get us what we need when we need it.” She added, “Joe Silva, the delivery agent contracted by Prism makes absolutely sure everything is done the way it needs to be done, and appears flawless to us.”

Prism has been a lifesaver for us, actually… I can’t stress enough what a great group of people they are. I’m really glad we have this partnership!

Samanthia Ableski, Senior Director of Product Sales,
Girl Scouts of America, Northern California

Looking to the Future

The Girl Scouts council invests in understanding, and responding to its continuously growing market. In recent years, they have developed cookie recipes responsive to health conscious consumers that were lower calorie and non-gluten for example. On noting that buyers didn‘t have cash ‘at the ready,’ the council identified vendors of credit card processing devices to facilitate more convenient order-taking door to door. But for the most part, customers do pay with cash, and there is an overwhelming market preference for the original recipes and nostalgic tastes. In the future, look for more of that great product with more conveniences such as online ordering, and ever faster delivery.

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