VersaCold’s COVID-19 playbook was built on collaboration

Posted by: VersaCold on Jul 30, 2020 9:30:00 AM

Three warehouse workers gesturing to and talking about products on the shelves.

Communication was the key to fast action for food safety and supply

As COVID-19 measures have started to relax across the country, we here at VersaCold have had a chance to reflect on our own response to the pandemic while at the same time, preparing to move forward with safety and business continuity in mind. We spoke to Lorna Jellow, Director, Labour Relations and Brian Printz, Director, National Accounts, who shared their unique perspectives on how VersaCold employees adapted under the pressures of COVID-19. Across the board, communication stood out as the number one tool for success in this unknown environment.

Stronger together

Safety is and always has been our number one priority at VersaCold, so we relied on swift communication to implement COVID-19 measures across our entire business and adapt our processes to ensure the safety of our employees, customers, and the food that we handle every day.

From a human relations perspective, Lorna says her team started by making calls to any employee showing symptoms of any kind. “It was important that they felt comfortable and that they were adhering to the fourteen day quarantine, to avoid any possibility of spreading the virus”. As Lorna says, “Our employees needed assurance that it was “ok”, and that we were here to support them”.

In a similar fashion, Brian says that he and other members of the sales teams quickly adapted to contacting their customers via video call to maintain face-to-face relationships. Staying in regular communication with our customer base was important for keeping our customers up to date on safety measures, and also helped VersaCold identify their changing needs.

New solutions for a new reality

In speaking with one of VersaCold’s major export customers, Brian’s team identified the need for a redundancy plan in the event that their exports of pork products were temporarily backed up due to border restrictions. With the input of the customer, Brian’s team came up with a plan to reserve space in one of our Vancouver warehouses to accommodate any significant backlog. “The customer was instrumental in this process and as a result we came up with a pallet reservation system,” Brian says.

On the other end of the spectrum, Brian’s team was able to help a smaller protein producer increase revenue by connecting them with major Canadian retailers that were experiencing high demand. As the situation continued to develop, successful solutions started with open communication.

Writing the playbook

As Lorna says, “There was nothing tried and tested with COVID. We created the playbook as we went”, and in doing so, the strength in collaboration between our operations teams, sales teams, customers and partners became very evident. When faced with the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19, Lorna and Brian both agree that VersaCold is ready. We at VersaCold continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the safety of employees and the continuance of our business. We will continue to communicate and collaborate while ensuring that food is moving through the supply chain to safely arrive in the hands of those who need it most – Canadian families.

VersaCold Logistics Services is Canada’s largest company offering food-focused, temperatures-sensitive logistics services. If you have any questions or want to inquire about warehousing, transportation or other logistics needs, contact or 1-800-563-COLD.

Tags: VersaCold, food safety