Collaboration Eases Crunch Time for Yellow Book

As one solution to capacity problems, carriers have advocated more collaborative partnerships in order to be assured of having capacity. Such collaboration is paying off for Yellow Book USA (www.yellowbook.com), a unit of U.K.-based Yell PLC.

Nick Klinkhammer, area vice president for distribution, says that the Long Island, N.Y.based organization is the largest phone book publisher in the United States. It prints 970 different directories, 126 million books in total, that come out just once a year, all at the same time. The directories are circulated in 46 states plus the District of Columbia.

"If we get the book into the hands of users in a timely fashion, they'll use it to give our advertisers business. So as soon as we can get the book on the street the better advantage it is for us and our customers," he notes.

The company's printers don't want to be in the warehouse business. Ideally Yellow Book would like to print one day and start distributing the following day. At times, books come out of the bindery, are loaded onto skids and go directly into trucks. Still, the company must rent warehouse space in each market where the people who deliver the books can pick them up for final delivery.

One of Yellow Book's primary carriers is Schneider National (www.schneider.com). Yellow Book has worked closely with the carrier's strategic client group to uncover options to lower costs and smooth out some of the peaks and valleys in scheduling.

"For the larger books," explains Klinkhammer, "we're actually moving some of our large titles to intermodal. We may have teams of drivers on first loads for initial deliveries, then use intermodal service to bring in some of the later loads."

Another benefit of staggering shipments is that it keeps warehouses from being flooded with trucks at the beginning of the Yellow Book delivery cycle, which keeps it from having to rent additional warehouse space. For capacity—depending on market size, delivery areas can require from one to 150 truckloads of directories—Yellow Book has worked with Schneider to ship over a longer period of time, which also makes it more economical to load.

"In the freight business," says Klinkhammer, "there are a lot of carriers who want to pick and choose certain lanes. Guaranteed service is one of the reasons we've formed the partnerships we have because they're able to deliver. We try to stay out of the devil's triangle of the printer, the freight vendor and us."

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