y DAVID STELZER, CEO OF AZURE | November 04, 2021
As many of you know, in our press release last week we put out a call for action and an explanation of the challenges we are facing with supply chain issues, shortages, and especially labor! We are still hard at work and also still experiencing shortages. We want to share with our customers what we are up against in the marketplace so you are not disappointed when you see things that are different from what you have come to expect from Azure.
But first, we want to thank you! Our sales are up — significantly. We cannot overstate our appreciation for your trust in us and for sharing Azure with your family and friends. At the heart of Azure is our desire to do everything we can to be worthy of your confidence and treat you well. We are excited that this growth will make us a better company and will increase the availability of organic foods in the long term. Increased demand will reduce prices in the future too, making organic eating more widespread. It is an exciting time!
We have always said that we view our customers like family. At the end of last month, we put out a ‘call for backup’ asking for help, inviting you to come work alongside us to fill orders in our warehouse. You have demonstrated that you, too, view Azure as family! Many of you answered, and we are so thankful for the loyal, hardworking customers who were able to come to Oregon to help package and fill orders. It has been a privilege to get to know many of you, and we feel incredibly blessed that so many great people have turned out. We could not do this without you. That said, we can definitely use quite a few more good people! Probably 40 or 50 more!
To give you a picture of what things look like here, the Azure family is working double shifts, seven days a week and around the clock. Many of the kids are eagerly pitching in alongside us. My family is working until about 3 am most evenings right now. Why? Our nation deserves a good food supply even in rough times. Unlike the corporate world, we have partners who genuinely care and want to get food into your homes when you need it most. We really believe in what we are doing here.
We think many of you, too, may be interested in supporting the growth of organic foods right now. Our warehouse is located in a small rural county with a total population of about 1600 people, so it is not easy to quickly hire enough people to keep up with the growth we are seeing. We can’t get the food packaged fast enough to get it out the doors on time! We are considering many long-term solutions to attract and keep people. If you have the flexibility and the passion for being a part of Azure, we want to hear from you — please see the note at the end of this letter for more details.
A Few Changes
We also wanted to let you know that the changes you see right now are not typical, and we ask that you bear with us as we do the very best we can with the supply chain issues. We are keeping our eye on the prize. Our goal, as always, is to serve our customers and deliver quality organic foods to you as quickly as possible. However, we are stretched to our limits, so we have to make a few changes to our normal processes.
First, we will be offering very few new products right now because our warehouse is really at its max, and getting bags and labels is extremely difficult right now. Believe it or not, packaging is one of our biggest challenges; materials needed for paper labels are sitting on boats in the harbor waiting to be unloaded. The same is true with plastic bags.
You may see black and white labels that are odd-sized or with printing that doesn’t fit the label. We are being as innovative as we possibly can, and sometimes that means stretching or shrinking our product descriptions to fit whatever labels we can get our hands on. We are simply doing what we can to source any type of labeling and bagging material. We decided that it was better to get foods out to you with unusual packaging rather than inconvenience you with delays on the products you need.
Lastly, some products are unavailable because they cannot be offloaded from the ships. There is a labor challenge due to union activity at the docks over which we have no control.
We want you to know that we have gone through many highs and lows over the years at Azure. At the start of the pandemic, we also encountered challenges and we worked tirelessly to serve you then as we are now and will continue to do in the future. As with any struggle, we give thanks, because we know we will grow as a company and be stronger for it in the end. Our job is to answer the call to provide quality foods to our customers, through thick and thin, and that commitment is at the core of who we are. Thank you for your patience with any delays or changes. We are so grateful for your support!
Want to lend a hand? Have a passion about food?
If you are strong, hardworking, and would like to make some extra cash, we would love to have you come out to Oregon to work with us. We need help fulfilling orders at the warehouse and packaging products at our mill. Although the positions are temporary, there may be long-term opportunities for those looking to relocate to our area. You can fill out this short form and we will be in touch with you: Azure Employment Form. Thank you in advance!