Trailer Bridge, founded by transportation pioneer Malcom McLean, began as an ocean carrier back in 1991. Today, with ocean freight services still at the core, the company has expanded to become a trusted transportation solutions provider across the entire supply chain – with more growth on the horizon for customers and employees.
2021 brought many accomplishments for Trailer Bridge, including being named to Inc. Magazine’s 5000 list of Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the U.S. – a testament to the extreme growth the company has experienced over the past three years. Service offerings expanded across the entire organization and included growth into U.S. domestic freight movements and North American cross-border transportation solutions. Two new divisions were developed including an International division to provide ocean services across global markets and a Government division assembled to focus on complex military moves. The company also saw rapid growth for its Puerto Rican and Dominican ocean service, plus the expansion of its team by more than 68%.
We recently sat down with Trailer Bridge CEO and President, Mitch Luciano, to learn more about how the company is charting the course for the future.
Solutions for Shippers of All Sizes
Trailer Bridge prides itself on providing innovative one-stop solutions for all customers, no matter how sizable the project may be. “Part of our growth is in better serving clients who perhaps don’t have a transportation group in-house – who are using four or five different carriers and parcel delivery services, who have a couple of truckloads or LTL per week,” stated Luciano. “We can give these customers all of the services they need in one system and put an end to having to manage all of those different carriers.”
Logistics planning requires a level of proficiency and dexterity, and Trailer Bridge delivers that service along with, what’s now hard to come by, capacity (in both space and equipment) to customers. In addition, the company offers a single point of contact for its customers who can serve as an extension of their business when it comes to fulfilling their freight planning.
Growing to Serve Customer Needs Across the Supply Chain
The global pandemic didn’t slow the company’s growth – if anything it supercharged it as shippers leaned into the expertise and experience TB’s team offered. In an environment of chaos as supply disruptions changed sourcing markets for manufacturers, created congestion across the nation’s ports and heightened capacity issues – TB remained committed to showing up for its customers.
“Growing in a pandemic presented its own challenges, but our team adapted quickly and remained focused on delivering the exceptional services our customers are accustomed to,” said Luciano.
Service. It’s the foundation the company is built on – a service to its people, customers and the communities it serves – and what will power TB’s growth for decades to come according to Luciano.
“We had another record-setting month in November from a revenue standpoint, and we’re doing so at a cost of profits in some areas. That’s intentional. What matters most to us is focusing on delivering on our contracts, continuing to build capacity, and keeping morale high across the organization.”
Luciano is not only dedicated to increasing revenue, but is committed to adding new branch locations throughout the U.S., investing in new equipment including the purchase of 260+ new-build 53’ containers, and growing TB’s employee count (~132 new employees in 2021 alone).
Investing in People & Technology to Empower Them
With the mass transition to remote work, supply chain interferences, and sourcing challenges, the logistics field has had to modify to find capacity and meet timelines.
“One of the trends we’re seeing in transportation and logistics is massive investments in equipment to manage conditions as they are today – right now, at the height of Coronavirus-related supply chain disruption. I think we need to be looking ahead to what comes next, whether that’s a gradual lessening of the capacity crunch or even a cliff where demand drops off. We own our chassis and containers, and being asset-based has been a huge benefit to our customers and employees throughout this crisis,” Luciano advised.
“With that said, it’s risky to invest heavily in equipment to fulfill today’s demand when that equipment may not arrive for 12, 18 or even 24 months. That’s the reality of today’s market – we ordered containers over a year ago and received the second delivery just under two months ago. Sitting on a massive capital expense two years from now is not where we want to be, so we’re investing in our people and in technology that will empower them to make better decisions for our customers.”
Technology is a necessity when planning complex transportation routes, and Trailer Bridge is in the process of transitioning its transportation management system (TMS) to a single, intuitive, user-friendly solution powered by Mastery. One of the greatest benefits is that it will give customers and organizations alike a clear sight into every mile of a shipment’s domestic or international journey, driving efficiency and value.
Luciano added “We’re not talking about becoming a digital freight brokerage – there is no replacement for the human creativity, intelligence, and caring that it takes to provide exceptional logistics solutions.”
Mastery will place crucial information right at TB employee fingertips such as industry pricing and trends, real-time weather and traffic, ports and trucking information, and more, allowing the team members to tailor solutions to a customer’s specific needs.
“We’re using AI to put real-time data and automation to work for our people, so they can provide solutions that a fully automated system just can’t manage,” stated Luciano.
As the company looks ahead to 2022, Luciano anticipates the industry will begin to see the supply chain iron itself out while still managing risk and disruption. Trailer Bridge however, will continue to progress towards growth with people and technology.
Luciano stated “We’re excited to continue growing together, especially with the reopening of our offices. There’s a culture and shared energy here that I find so inspiring, and I feel privileged to lead a team of this caliber.”
From starting out as a single-lane ocean carrier to growing into a global transportation provider with expanded ocean routes, domestic transportation, and new international and government divisions, Trailer Bridge has definitely come a long way – and the exciting part is there’s still more to come.