Case Study:

Girl Scout Cookie Time



People all over the U.S. look forward to those delicious Girl Scout Cookies. But before the cookies get into the hands of customers, a massive logistical solution unfolds. Every year, Titan plays a key role in making sure every box of goodies arrives where and when it should.


This article originally appeared in the Summer 2005 edition of the Atlas Amplifier, the magazine of Atlas World Group.

Girl Scout Cookies LogisticsSome crave the peanut butter sandwich. Some hanker for thin mints. Still others are partial to shortbread.

Of course we're talking about Girl Scout cookies, the stars of "munch madness" that peaks each February and lasts until, well, every last delicious crumb is consumed. The annual cookie sale is the signature fundraiser of the Girl Scouts of America. Since the event's early commercial success in the 1930s, it has grown into a beloved American tradition — and a colossal undertaking that involves the manufacture and delivery of billions of cookies.

ABC Bakers, a division of Richmond, Virginia based Interbake Foods LLC, is one of two commercial bakers licensed to make Girl Scout cookies. This year ABC is making and shipping 76.8 million boxes of cookies in eight delectable varieties. And Titan is helping those cookies get into the hands (and tummies) of consumers across the U.S.

Timing is Critical

The cookies are sold by Girl Scout councils throughout the country. In some areas the fulfillment begins as early as October or runs as late as May. But the vast majority of councils take delivery in February, National Girl Scout Cookie Month.

"Our number one concern is making sure the product is delivered when it is needed," says Ray Selover, Director, Transportation & Logistics, Interbake Foods. "In this regard I think of Titan as an extension of my department. They even fly to the various locations to oversee distributions. We could not function as well as we do without their services."

Girl Scout Cookies DistributionDelivering cookies to the Girl Scouts for ABC Bakers has become a tradition at Titan. We take great pride in ensuring every distribution we handle meets the standards expected by the Troop Leaders and the bakery.

Perhaps no one has more hands-on experience in the distribution of Girl Scout cookies than Eileen Schumacher, Titan service representative. Titan has delivered Girl Scout cookies each year since 1968; Eileen has been involved with the effort since she joined the company 27 years ago.

"This year we are responsible for 1,462,800 cases, or 17,553,600 boxes," says Eileen. "Timing is critical. The councils give us a delivery window of a specified number of days, during which we distribute the cookies that were ordered by their troops."

When the cookies come into the Titan warehouse, workers break the bulk packages and prepare individual orders for delivery. Depending on the size of the order and where it is being delivered, cases may be loose loaded and delivered on dollies or stacked on pallets for forklifting. The sizes of deliveries vary. Some councils take fewer than 10,000 cases while others may receive upwards of 250,000 cases. Destinations can include churches, schools, fire stations, homes, and community centers. The person receiving the cookies is usually a volunteer.

"We recognize that these people are giving their time and most likely have limited capabilities to handle or stack the products," says Eileen. "Our operators work with them to make sure the goods are placed where it is most convenient for them."

This is another reason Interbake counts on Titan. "The last thing our customers remember about our service is their contact with the delivery person," says Ray. "They see that person as an extension of Interbake Foods."

Finding Efficiencies

In some larger markets, Titan conducts a "mega drop" to make it easy for councils to take delivery on big volumes.

"On two consecutive Saturdays in February we distributed a total of 60,000 cases, or approximately 40 trailers full, at one location in Houston," says Eileen. "This saves time for us and for the troops."

What happens if a council needs to order more cookies after their order is delivered?

"Once an initial delivery is complete, a council has up to a month to make additional requests for product," says Eileen. "If our warehouse is out of a requested variety, we issue an order to the field stock warehouse. The product is shipped to us and we then deliver as needed."

Improving the Process

When the Girl Scout cookie season is complete, Eileen meets with her client for an annual evaluation to ensure that Titan and its network continue to perform to the bakery's standards. "This is our opportunity to find out if there is anything we can do to improve our services," says Eileen.

"It takes a lot of people pulling together and careful attention to lots of little details to make sure the cookies arrive according to plan," says Eileen. "We consider it a privilege to have a hand in this much anticipated and very worthwhile event."



ABC Bakers

ABC Bakers is part of Interbake Foods LLC., a Richmond, Virginia based manufacturer that has been baking cookies and crackers for 100 years. The company became "Official Girl Scout Cookie Bakers" in 1939, just two years after the first sale of commercially baked Girl Scout cookies took place. Today, ABC Bakers supplies about 40 percent of the Girl Scout councils throughout the United States.

Less than 1/3 of the price consumers pay for Girl Scout cookies goes to the baker. This amount is far less than the wholesale price food retailers pay for similar products. This means that most of the money raised goes to support Girl Scouting.

Cookie sale revenue allows councils to offer Girl Scouting to as many local girls as possible. It also funds essential expenses such as insurance, property expense, maintenance and repair, program subsidies, volunteer training, printing and financial aid.

A portion of the money raised during the cookie sale is distributed directly to the troop selling the cookies where girls decide how it is spent on their plans for the year.

Adapted from the ABC Bakers web site: