An article by Greg Lehmkuhl, President and CEO
December 30, 2021
As we turn the page on 2021, I have been thinking how to best sum up what has been a year that can be defined as “dynamic” in every sense of the word. All of us have been challenged yet
rose to the occasion
, finding new and better ways to serve our customers, communities, partners and families during these turbulent times.
We also saw a renewed interest in our sector, as we worked around the clock to support the global supply chain. I am both proud and humbled to serve the Lineage team members who have come to work every day – through shutdowns, quarantines and general uncertainty – to protect the wider food supply chain via our cold-chain operations across our global facility network.
This year has, of course, been marked by numerous global challenges and ongoing strains on both businesses and personal lives, but there is also a lot to celebrate before we focus our attention toward 2022. I’d like to highlight a few different themes that have been top of mind for me and the rest of the Lineage team across 2021:
Managing Historic Supply Chain Disruptions
: Global supply chain issues have undoubtedly been top of mind this year for companies across industries, investors, government leaders and consumers everywhere. As a result, the cold chain industry continues to be in the spotlight
. To address the most pressing challenges in our industry, we are investing in our most valuable resources – our people – to satisfy customer needs, which includes paying higher wages and spending more on recruiting. We are also focused on deploying industry-leading technology and innovative solutions to ensure our customers’ products are safely and efficiently moved via our leading warehouse network, diverse transportation suite (across truck, rail and reefer) and direct-to-consumer capabilities. As we look to next year, supply chain issues are likely to persist given ongoing challenges on the supply-side, though we expect some improvement mid-late 2022.
Dealing with Inflationary Pressures
: Due to these ongoing supply chain disruptions, and as the economy begins to rebound from COVID-19, inflation has surged to record highs this year. Especially in the U.S., consumer demand has remained strong as people embrace e-commerce and return to brick-and-mortar retail with the easing of pandemic-related restrictions – leading to higher prices and a backed-up supply chain. Looking ahead, we expect inflation to continue in 2022.
Continuing to Put Health and Safety First During the Pandemic:
COVID has no doubt continued to impact our personal and professional lives in 2021. I reiterate that I am incredibly proud of the Lineage team’s perseverance and dedication this year, despite what feels like a never-ending cycle of restrictions and recovery. At Lineage, we continue to implement the strict health and safety protocols at our warehouses and regional offices around the world that we first put into place in 2020. And with the introduction of Omicron across the globe, we need to stay vigilant.
Staying Ahead of the Competitive Labor Market
: It’s no secret, the pandemic has caused labor shortages all over the world. The unprecedented lack of labor in 2021 has significantly impacted the globally interconnected supply chain and has restricted the movement of goods between ports, warehouses, retailers and consumers. Because of rising costs, having the right people working in your supply chain is even more important – which is why Lineage is focused on attracting, training and retaining the best talent. We have also doubled down this year on innovation to augment our incredible employee base by deploying technologies designed for efficiency, like automation.
Seeking Growth Opportunities Abroad
: Considering the many challenges of 2021, it has been especially important to ensure that all areas of the cold chain are functioning as one, interconnected system to meet growing demand – which is why Lineage has continued to grow its international footprint in rapid-growth population centers to support customers’ needs. In 2021, Lineage will complete more than 30 acquisitions and debut 22 new facilities across the globe, with a particular focus for growth in Europe and Asia. We also believe it is important that our constituent parts are brought together into a “One Lineage” team, and one of our main priorities continues to be the proper integration of these companies to the One Lineage family.
Innovating to Succeed:
This year has also been defined by a rapid increase in the demand, production and deployment of innovative, cold-chain technologies. At Lineage, we recognize how critical innovation is to the success of the entire food supply chain, which is why we’ve continued to invest heavily in our data science team and advanced technologies like Lineage Link to solve the most pressing problems of today. Lineage is harnessing technology and data to keep the industry moving.
Protecting our Planet
: Leveraging innovation to support sustainability initiatives has never been more important, and Lineage recognizes its responsibility to lead the industry’s sustainable efforts as the world’s largest cold storage provider. This year, we signed the Climate Pledge, co-founded by Amazon and Global Optimism. By signing this pledge, we committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions across business operations by 2040 – 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement. As proof of this commitment, we’ve announced several new sustainability milestones, including our first cold storage facility set to produce 100% of its energy consumption on-site in Colton, CA.
Fostering a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace
: In 2021, we saw that diversity, equity and inclusion are among the most profound topics inside and outside of the workplace. At Lineage, we are steadfastly committed to fostering a more inclusive culture, attracting and retaining a diverse workforce, and continuing the DE&I conversation. This year we announced the introduction of new Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and held a quarterly speaker series to listen and learn from diverse – and prominent – voices, such as
Martin Luther King III during Black History Month, Katie Sowers during Pride Month and Admiral Michelle Howard in celebration of Veteran’s Day. We are passionate about our DE&I journey and this will continue to be a focus for Lineage into 2022 and beyond.
Supporting our Communities:
The challenges of 2021 across sectors and industries have inspired us at Lineage to support the members of our communities in which we live and operate. We are thrilled that in 2021, Lineage launched its nonprofit, the Lineage Foundation for Good, to reduce food waste and fight food insecurity across the world. The Foundation will partner with the Global FoodBanking Network, Feeding America, and other regional and local organizations that align with its mission. Lineage is committed to giving back to our local communities at a time when it is needed most.
- Addressing Global Issues through Cross-Sector Collaboration : Through our Foundation and other business partners, we have remained committed to the cross-sector collaboration required to address the most important issues facing our industry today. Our relationships with partners, customers, employees, political bodies and other organizations have proved vital to our success – as well as the success of our industry and communities – and we encourage this collaboration to continue next year.
In closing, I would be remiss if I did not properly acknowledge – and say THANK YOU to -- our amazing team of over 22,000 Lineage team members for making 2021 one of our most successful years to date. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thank you for everything you do to make Lineage, unequivocally, the most dynamic temperature-controlled logistics company in the world. I encourage you to reflect on a historic 2021 and recharge for a transformational 2022!