A dependable service provider is there when you need them most.
Safety and efficiency are principles DAR PRO Solutions values with utmost importance. We aim to go beyond expectations to be a partner our customers can depend on for used cooking oil serviceand other grease needs.
But sometimes, Mother Nature decides to throw us a special challenge. Last year’s hurricane season. Widespread, wind-fed wildfires. Weeks-long droughts. The “bomb cyclone” currently hitting the eastern half of the U.S. Fortunately, these extremes aren’t typical, but circumstances do happen that put our drivers, customers or used cooking oil equipment in jeopardy.
We deal with inclement weather year round, from lake effect snow in Buffalo and Minnesota, to extreme heat and droughts in the Midwest that affect ranchers and communities suffering increased animal mortalities that must be collected in a timely fashion. “Our routes get driven, our services are provided. It may take us a little longer, but we are prepared for these conditions and we get the job done,” said Vance Cunningham, DAR PRO Solutions’ Director of Equipment and Programs. In instances such as 2017’s Hurricane Harvey and the 2018 multi-named Winter Storm (some calling it Grayson, others Brody), we may temporarily be prevented from fulfilling our services, but our customers have learned they can depend on us to be there as soon as the roads are opened and trucks can run.
It's all about being prepared.
Typically speaking, particularly inclement weather occurs at some of our facilities on a fairly regular basis and lessons in preparedness are learned from each of them. In our industry, winter concerns aren’t solely about ice on the roads impacting our service. The material we collect from our restaurant, supermarketand other foodservice customers is also subject to freezing. Used cooking oil in outside bins must first be heated using service vehicles specially built for that procedure, before the cold-gelled grease can be emptied into our trucks. Likewise, the inedible meat product we pick up from supermarkets, butchers and processors can freeze, making it more difficult and time consuming to collect. “We do this every year, and we get better at it every year,” said Larry Angotti, a Senior Vice President of Darling Ingredients’ USA operations. “Preparations are made depending on the type of weather that is expected. If a bad hit is anticipated, the fleet and employees are moved out of town. Summertime can present extreme heat and drought that pose its own unique challenges that must be managed. And then there are the worst-case scenarios. This week, our motto is, ‘The difficult situations are not a problem; it is the impossible situations that will take us a little longer.’ Historically, our logistic capabilities have allowed us to prepare efficiently and rebound quickly.”
The unprecedented season with both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma created such a worst-case scenario, and our eastern facilities are now facing similar challenges from blizzard conditions, but Darling Ingredients’ preparedness and logistical support network have enabled us to quickly respond to such challenges, and, in the case of Harvey and Irma, to be fully operational the moment the roads reopened.
Our handling of Harvey is an example of how all our plants across the U.S. anticipate and prepare for weather-related challenges and other natural disasters. On August 25, Hurricane Harvey reached land and tore through southern Texas, stalling for days and producing 40 inches of rain in less than 48 hours. The greater Houston area received 51.88 inches of rainfall during the storm, a North American record.
How we handled Harvey is how we handle similar challenges.
When the storm hit on that Friday, our Corpus Christi team worked as long as it was safe to do so, and was back on the road by Monday; when roads around Houston reopened on Thursday, our trucks, drivers and plant operations were ready to go.
From previous experience, we knew that after the storm ended, dozens of our customers would need help with flooded, damaged or tipped grease containers, and we prepared ahead of time, accordingly.
- We moved our transport fleet to higher ground to avoid flood damage
- Secured and shut down production facilities to avoid wind damage
- Sent employees home to prepare for the storm and assisted those wanting to work from out of town
- Arranged with our national equipment team to have replacement bins at the ready
- Rerouted customer service calls so none were lost
- Held daily conference calls to ensure a smooth post-storm transition
And as soon as roads were reopened, we ran our routes and had our drivers report any equipment damage at our customers’ restaurants, often reaching stores before our customers made a maintenance call. We are prepared to do the same once the effects of the Northeast blizzard abates.
This commitment to preparedness, and having the infrastructure and logistics to support such challenges, allows us to provide our customers the services they need and expect, and to BE the partner we strive to be.