Tony Kvasnicka, Director of Vessel Operations: Get to Know the People of Logistics & Transportation

Have you ever wondered what it might be like to work in transportation and logistics? Perhaps you’re curious about the qualities, traits, and skills that make a person successful in ocean shipping. Tony Kvasnicka, Director of Vessel Operations, has been working here at Trailer Bridge for the past three years. A diverse range of early life and career experiences made him a great fit for this position. 

Tony took some time out of his hectic schedule to tell us a little about what he does and how he came to be a part of the TB Family

A day in the life managing vessel operations

Trailer Bridge owns a fleet of ocean-going barges available for charter. The biggest of these is 737 feet long, 104 feet wide, and 58 feet tall from the bottom to the top. These vast ships weigh around 32 million pounds and cost approximately $100 million to build. The smaller ones are about 400ft and cost around $30-36 million. 

A five to seven men crew tug the large barges to Puerto Rico and back. They work 28 days on and 14 days off. There are also assist tugs at the bow and stern of the barges to assist with steering during the transit in and out of port. Under tow, these transport systems are 1500 to 2000 feet long from the front of the tugboat to the back of the barge. They are truly massive. 

Tony and his team manage these barges. This involves handling their repair and maintenance, doing drydocks, replacing steel and coatings to ensure they are up to code. “Working in this position requires mechanical aptitude,” Tony explains, “you need to be hands-on and not afraid to get dirty.” 

With the barges needing to be fit to sail every Wednesday and Friday, it’s a fast-paced job, and Tony and his team have to be on the ball. His department works some of the longest hours of any company he’s ever worked for, often clocking up as many as 55 hours by Wednesday evening.

However, the fact that Tony loves what he does is apparent just from glancing around his office, which is full of photos of the port. In pride of place is a picture of a RORO coming in at 2am. These ‘roll-on/roll-off’ cargo ships are specifically designed for cargo that is either driven on, such as cars, or loaded using a platform vehicle rather than lifted on via cranes. 

“Farming is a great background for this type of work.”

These days Tony spends much of his time in the office or out on the road. Yet, he still averages 30 hours a week working directly with the boats. Owning a welding shop in Virginia, where he specialized in steel repair and fabrication, furnished him with many of the skills he uses on a day-to-day basis. 

However, Tony stresses that it was his background in farming that truly prepared him for what he does now. “You can treat barges like living things, and that’s the farmer part of me… Farming is a great background for this type of work.”

Tony Kvasnicka, a leader in the logistics industry, shares his career path and journey.

Growing up, Tony worked alongside his dad on the cattle farm in Virginia, which had been in his family for over 100 years. It was here that he first learned about machines, taking care of the farm equipment. 

Tony also spent 10 years with the Coast Guard, where he cultivated a love of sailing. “It’s beautiful at sea. I’ve sailed all over with the Coast Guard and been in every state on the Eastern seaboard and every body of water. Sailing is pretty cool,” he says. 

It was through connections made there that Tony found his way over to Trailer Bridge. Some 20-odd years later, a friend of his who was working as Manager of Vessel Operations with Trailer Bridge asked Tony if he would be interested in applying for a Port Engineer position.

Around a year after Tony joined Trailer Bridge, his friend left the company, and he took over his job. Tony was promoted again to his present position. 

Leadership the Trailer Bridge Way 

Tony already had a considerable amount of experience with managing a team. “Early on in the Coast Guard, I had up to 15 guys under me. I was 21 yrs old managing a search and rescue station; even at a young age, I was managing people and handling stressful situations, so that wasn’t a big deal,” he says.

Yet, he feels he benefitted from going through the Leadership Development Program set up by VP of Organizational Development, Indie Bollman. For Tony, the course “solidifies what TB believes in and their culture,” which he describes as distinct from other corporations. 

Trailer Bridge just has a different approach to doing business. Over the past three years, Tony’s experiences with the company have shown him that Indie and CEO Mitch Luciano really believe in the ideas they teach through the program and that really makes all the difference. 

Tony currently oversees a team of six, although when fully staffed, this number climbs to eight or nine. The company also brings in a lot of subcontractors to handle maintenance and repairs. 

Tony Kvasnicka, Trailer Bridge - supervising RORO operation

The team works really hard to keep the ships in tip-top condition and increase their longevity. “Anyone who’s seen the barges prior to where they’re at today is amazed. The amount of steel and time we put in and the extra vision we have for them”. 

Alongside repairs, another key focus of the team is keeping the company competitive in the marketplace. Tony is continually working on diversifying the barges to enable them to carry a greater range of cargo. He explains: 

“So we’re doing all these things, but the money we’re spending doing them will make us more flexible and able to pivot. I love the challenge. They give me an idea – ‘can we do this?’ and I get to come back and say, ‘Well, if we do it this way, we can open it up to handle XYZ, and it’s money well-spent.'”

One recent solution Tony drew up was to make one of the essential stern bits on the barges’ main deck removable to allow for the transportation of oversized cargo. He is currently working on additional car panel projects so Trailer Bridge can up their car transporting capacity.  

The impact of COVID-19

When the pandemic struck, and other employees were going remote, the nature of his job meant Tony had to work through it. “We have ballast systems to maintain, generators to run, so me and my team have been here every day.” 

The pandemic has prevented him from traveling over to Puerto Rico as often as he usually does to set up projects and provide support to his man on the ground there.  However, the introduction of safety protocols such as mandatory masks and daily temperature screening has enabled Trailer Bridge to protect our employees while continuing to ship items to where they are needed.

Want to learn more about what it’s like to work in logistics and transportation?

2020: The Year Agility, Culture & Pivot Became More Than Buzzwords

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed us all in one way or another. We’ve learned a couple of things about ourselves this year; how resilient we human beings are and just how much we need one another. As leaders, we’ve learned about several aspects, but most of all that when we connect as a team and genuinely care for one another, we engage, support, innovate, and inspire those around us, regardless of position or circumstances.

When the pandemic hit, business leaders faced uncertainty and, for many, unrecoverable crises. It’s heartbreaking to see the number of businesses and people suffering losses and setbacks due to the unforeseen events of this past year. Some businesses unfortunately didn’t survive, while others will not make it through 2021.  These are real people with real families and real financial responsibilities that are affected, and our hearts go out to them.   

There are industries like airlines that have been devastated. Delta lost over $5 billion in the third quarter alone and reduced its headcount by 18,000, while close to 40,000 took an unpaid leave. On the flip-side, Amazon reported 70% increased earnings in the first three quarters of 2020 and added over 427,000 new employees in the first 10 months.  In fact, a number of non-blue chip businesses have turbo-charged their growth during this time. Shopify now sits on 160% year-to-date gains, while after losing $300 million last year, Instacart was found by Cowen investments to be the third most popular online US grocery destination, after Walmart and Amazon and is expected to go public in 2021, at around a $30 billion valuation. 

Those companies all have something in common: prior to the pandemic, these teams had a development mindset and had built a culture conducive to growth. What can other business leaders learn from them? 

Was 2020 the year of visual acuity for business leaders? 

I know many began this year contemplating the next decade and this year’s association  with vision charts and the meaning of clarity. As we reflect back on 2020, those digits may hold a new meaning, but hopefully includes some visual clarity nonetheless. 

The last year has been a struggle across the spectrum for everyone in some shape and form. There have been illnesses, unemployment, distance learning, fulfillment delays (have you seen any cans of Lysol lately?), politics, protests and worst of all, the lasting effects all of this has had on loved ones. It has also been a year of personal and professional growth and development; of reflection and hopefully awareness around what really matters. The hardships of 2020 will last a lifetime and many people feel a collective longing for some form of pre-pandemic normalcy to return. But will it?

Should it, even? There’s no need to retreat to 2019. We can advance further through lessons learned, with the same resilience and strength that we’ve learned in 2020 (not only for ourselves but for each other). We’ve embraced new tools to keep business and communication moving, and there’s no reason to stop using them; though for some it might be in a different way. 

One example of continuing to use new tools as we come out the other side of things is simply staying in touch. We’ve utilized video technologies heavily during this pandemic. The number of meetings via video has skyrocketed out of necessity to keep the flow of information going, but has also allowed employees to continue communicating with each other, collaborating, and staying engaged. If culture is important to your employees (and I’ll just go ahead and tell you that it is), you already know how important it is for your teams to stay in touch and how quickly they can begin to feel isolated. Companies with remote offices and workers have struggled to keep everyone connected. This year has made “Zoom” a household term, and while its technology grew in use out of necessity, its usefulness post pandemic is clear.

Another use of virtual video conference is with training and onboarding. This made it possible to continue a focus on onboarding and also on training, a key factor to many in continuing employee and company growth. As for onboarding, if you can’t bring them together, at least onboard new folks virtually, giving them the information and connection that helps them hit the ground running and become productive right away.    Delivering ongoing training in this way keeps current employees engaged and learning – and here’s the real magic, they’re way more likely to be ready to take on more as your organization grows. 

Video conferencing also came more heavily into play for other purposes such as customer-facing communications and sales. We can agree, I’m sure, that in-person is best but video has proven to be the next best thing. In fact, it’s clear that the use of video for sales efforts will continue to be an essential ability. That’s an area of training that we’ve deployed here, and one that is a good idea for businesses everywhere to offer. It’s created an awareness on how we come across to others.

Our employees have become more familiar with new technologies, but they are also improving their people skills. The pandemic requires that our employees show empathy and relational skills. When the pandemic ends, these skills might not be as essential, but they will separate the companies that thrive from the companies that merely survive. Create a culture of caring for your employees and show them how to demonstrate that to your customers.

How companies pivoted to meet pandemic-influenced consumer demand

Those companies that kept their eye on growth and developing their teams have in many cases positioned themselves for success during, and after the pandemic.

Pizza Hut, for example, was thinking ahead when invested heavily in mobile and online service technologies before COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, some of their competitors experienced great difficulty fulfilling an influx of orders. Now, there’s no way Pizza Hut could have predicted the pandemic but they were already focused on improving service and growing their technical capabilities. That served them extremely well when demand rose to meet their new capacity.

Instacart, a grocery delivery and pickup service through personal shoppers, brought in more than 15 new product and support features at the start of the pandemic. They grew their active personal shopper network from 200,000 to 350,000. They switched from face-to-face delivery to contactless delivery. They activated a “Fast & Flexible” delivery option that matches customer orders with real-time shopper availability. They anticipated customer anxiety about food supplies with their “Order Ahead” feature, which allows customers to place orders up to two weeks in advance.

Locally owned upholstery businesses near Jacksonville shifted from making furniture fabric to making masks to keep their people employed and productive. Will the mask business sustain them in the future? Actually, not likely. But they’ve proven they have the ability to act quickly and change to save the business and keep their people employed.

What we’re learning is not a new technology; we’re learning to apply what we know in a new way. We’re learning to be agile and quick, to be creative and sustain the business with the talent, tools, and market we’re given at any point in time. Take inventory of the skills you have in-house—you might be surprised by what you find. How can you continue to develop your people?

Baking resiliency, agility and empathy into your team’s DNA

This is a constant exercise amongst our team: what are we doing now and how can we do it better? When the pandemic hit, our customer service team phoned every customer to see how they were doing and whether their needs had changed. As some competitor routes changed or were canceled, we reached out to let customers know, “We’re still going. We’re going to get your goods there. What do you need?” The thought was never to sit still, it was to find more customers. And that’s exactly what they did.

It’s rare in our industry that each customer has a dedicated account manager. Call it old school if you will, but there’s just no substitute for personal relationships. Self-service options in addition to your customer service team are great. But if you’re using chatbots as a substitute for your customer being able to reach a real human and ask a pressing question, what kind of experience is that? Is it sustainable? Is it serving your business and its customers well?

Part of the pivot is servicing the need now, but also building and positioning and looking forward to what’s next. It’s a universal truth: you’re either moving forward, standing still, or backsliding. What are you preparing for today? 

Better your leadership skills, enhance your team’s skills, identify new ways to take this situation, and service people. Diversify. Take this time to get better not only for today. What might your needs be six months from now and how can your team begin to plug into that now?

Companies that have focused on growth, development, and culture may well be the best positioned to succeed in the coming months and years. But it’s not too late for those who feel they haven’t mastered their culture yet. Model what it takes to create excellent customer experiences during a pandemic, and after. Keep your teams looking forward, encourage creativity on how to solve problems and expand the business, paying attention to what they need to do that, and always showing them that you value them and what they contribute every day.  

Do the best with what you know, and prepare for what you don’t by building a culture that values learning and constantly looking at new ways to come out of 2020 stronger, better, improving, and growing. The old normal may well be a thing of the past, but the new one might just be better.  

Learn more:

Charlie Sanchez on Leadership, Love and the Trailer Bridge Family

“What we do is meaningful… Who knows how many families are helped by these products we are moving? These things don’t just go on a shelf. They aren’t just ‘things.’ They fulfill a purpose that could even go on to save a life.”

Charlie Sanchez, Director of Support Services at Trailer Bridge, recently celebrated his eighth anniversary with our company. We caught up with Charlie as people so often do these days—over Zoom—to reflect on his time here at Trailer Bridge and the unique career path that helped him grow into one of our organization’s most-loved leaders.

Charlie’s department oversees the documentation required for transporting items between the US and Puerto Rico. This includes the Bill of Lading (BOL), which details the shipment information with commodity, weight, shipper, consignee, and several other critical pieces of information.

His team also liaises with customs agencies, census bureaus, and tax departments to ensure that all proper information is shared with the correct government agency. The work Charlie and his team do is vital. Of course, in so many organizations there’s a direct correlation between the importance of your work to others and the level of stress inherent to the job.

Charlie sees things a bit differently, though; in fact, he says he feels blessed to be part of an organization that not only makes things happen for clients in getting their items to where they need to be, but that has such a culture of love and support that working there is a pleasure rather than an obligation. 

Loving What You Do: An Important Shift in Mindset

Charlie had lived in Puerto Rico until he was 19 years old, at which point he left and served four years in the US Navy. Stationed on the John F Kennedy CV-67 Aircraft Carrier based out of Mayport, FL, he supervised the safe operation of all aircrafts on that flight deck—one of the most dangerous places in the world.

“Two years after joining the military,” he recalls, “I met the woman who would become my wife. A month after we met, we got married. Our families thought we were crazy, but it was the right thing for both of us.” 

Charlie had lived in Puerto Rico until he was 19 years old, at which point he left and served four years in the US Navy.
Charlie Sanchez with his shipmates on the USS John F. Kennedy during a Mediterranean Sea deployment.

Now, looking ahead at 24 years of marriage this upcoming April 23, 2021 and 3 beautiful children (now successful adults and kind members of society) and the addition of 2 new granddaughters, Charlie still says “it was the right thing for both of them.”

Despite that leadership experience in the Navy and his experience working in distribution at several different companies, one a leading car manufacturer, Charlie didn’t envision himself as a leader. In fact, when he first applied to join the #TBfamily it was in a  temporary role, he understood there would be little to no opportunity for advancement, and that was just how he wanted it—status quo. Even so, he eagerly applied for the position knowing that it offered him more stability than his current role with a credit union company. What mattered most was his ability to provide a good life for his wife and their children, a son and two daughters.

The interviewer recognized something special in Charlie, and he was offered the job on the way home.

Starting work, Charlie was happy to put his head down and get on with things, making the best of his particular strengths including organization, attention to detail, and a keen awareness of those around him. 

“They noticed me working hard, loving what I do and caring about the people around me,” he says of the leadership team . “If I saw an opportunity to help someone else, I would just do it because it helped them. And you know what? Those people found ways to be good to me, too. Next thing you know, we developed this atmosphere of helping each other.”

His timing couldn’t have been better. Just as the entire culture of the company was starting to shift for the better, Charlie was right there in the middle of it, acting with kindness. 

This culture shift didn’t happen by accident. It’s the result of years of focused effort by CEO Mitch Luciano and the entire Trailer Bridge organization, and it has since become fundamental to the entire operation.

“Work is more than a duty. You hear about it and you see it, but when you experience it, it’s entirely different. Mitch helped me and all of us realize how much better life can be when you love what you’re doing and are treated with love and kindness in return.”

Growing Into a Leadership Role

When an opportunity arose to manage the team he worked with, Charlie had hopes that one of his two bright teammates, who had both been with Trailer Bridge more than 15 years, would apply for the position.  He organized a meeting with them, where he encouraged them and offered his support to whomever decided to take a whichever of them wanted the manager role. 

Charlie Sanchez and his daughter Alicia Montero
Charlie Sanchez celebrating #TeamAlicia with his daughter Alicia Montero at Trailer Bridge.

To his surprise, those colleagues put their trust behind him and told him to apply. “They both said, ‘You asking us first… this is exactly why we want you to get this job,’” he recalls. “So I went for it! And worked even harder because of how grateful I was with the amazing opportunity. Then I received another unexpected promotion and as a Director, I was able to help them grow in their careers, too. One is now a Director and the other a Manager.” 

“The biggest transition has been learning leadership,” Charlie says. “In the military, even as a leader you still follow orders no matter what. Here at Trailer Bridge, I need to delegate in an effective and loving way.”

Trailer Bridge developed a home-grown intensive leadership development program designed Organizational Development. Designed to create a common  philosophy and built around team unity. The program encourages candidates to consider how they can best support each team member, based on the values and goals of the company. It is structured based in part on the LEAP model of leadership by best-selling author Steve Farber, founded upon a framework of cultivating Love, generating Energy, inspiring Audacity and providing Proof.  The roughly eight-month long program also includes segments on improving communication, mentoring, mindfulness and emotional intelligence.

Charlie credits Trailer Bridge’s leadership team with helping him to develop the skills that have led to his success in his current role. “A program just tells you what to do, but an experience changes you so you can do it,” Charlie says. Growing into a leadership role with Trailer Bridge was an experience that changed his life and outlook forever, and not only professionally but personally, as well. 

“Mitch was there for me as one of many mentors, with a truly open door and helpful advice. All the way through the company, at every level you have people wanting to help you do better and grow into your best version of yourself. It’s amazing.”

 

Trailer Bridge’s internal leadership development program and unwavering commitment to positive culture have improved employee retention and earned the team various accolades including recognition as an Inc. Magazine ‘Best Workplace for 2020‘ and the #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville.

“We don’t see what’s inside the container; we see it through the eyes of our customers and theirs.”

The realization that the company does so much more than moving things from one place to another came to Charlie in the most unexpected way.

Nearly two years ago, the oldest of Charlie’s two daughters was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Treating it involved a series of surgeries. Following the second of these, while Charlie was waiting for his daughter to wake up, he noticed that the IV bags were manufactured by Baxter, one of Trailer Bridge’s customers. All at once it hit him and he was able to see how vital the services provided by the company were to those receiving the goods. 

Now, Charlie explains that gratitude fuels the energy and enthusiasm for his work. “I make sure I stop by every team member’s desk each day to check in, say hello, and see how our people are doing. From that moment on, he believed that every single member of our team may have been a part of something that helped to keep my daughter alive,” Charlie recalls. 

“I’m grateful they’re there. People ask where my energy comes from, and this is it—it’s gratitude. It’s impossible to not have a good day when you know the work you’re doing is meaningful.” 

It’s important to Charlie that all Trailer Bridge employees do their job with love and care. Rather than seeing it as an obligation or just about the money, they should do it because they see how much it matters to their customers and to others. After all, those containers are more than just boxes. That’s why the right kind of leadership is crucial; when you show that you care for your employees, they pass that right on to customers. 

It’s an experience Charlie wanted to share with his son-in-law, too. “I’m very careful about who I’ll refer because I take my reputation very seriously,” he explains. Having observed his son-in-law come to the States after losing everything back in Venezuela and work hard in the lawn business, he knew that Reuben would be a good fit in an organization that values dedication. Since his son-in-law joined the company, he is living up to the recommendation, providing for Charlie’s daughter and building his American dream. 

“You cannot possibly imagine the effect that introducing a culture of love will have. Our family is so blessed because of this one company that changed its culture.”

Learn More:

Cold Chain Q&A with Eric Bierman, President of Cool Transport Jax

Eric Bierman, President of Cool Transport Jax, is one of the most experienced cold chain experts in the business. Since arriving in the USA over 50 years ago, he’s been passionate about service excellence and providing a top-quality experience for his customers. 

Eric has been involved in Puerto Rico trade since 1971. His commitment to hiring top experts, focusing on the details, and constantly innovating to improve his trans-loading and food delivery 3PL business are just a few of the reasons Trailer Bridge has chosen to partner with Cool Transport Jax as we expand into reefer service between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico

Eric’s generosity in sharing that knowledge and experience is another reason he’s such a respected figure in the industry. We had a chance to catch up with Eric recently and asked him to share some of the cold chain insight with our readers. Enjoy this Q&A and as always, reach out to a member of the team here if you have any questions!

What are the benefits of choosing a single-source cold transport provider?

Single-source providers offer the simplicity of booking the cargo without having to deal with multiple services. It helps to keep everything under one roof because the less you’re handing cargo off between disconnected transportation solutions, the better, especially in the cold chain.

The relationships behind the scenes and cooperation are key to the success of every shipment. Who we each choose to work with is important! Our reputation matters to us and so we’re only choosing to partner with companies that share our values. Our top priority is making cold cargo transport as seamless as possible for the customer. In partnering with Trailer Bridge, we know cold cargo is being inspected, monitored, and kept at temperature from door-to-door and everywhere in between.

What’s the difference between shipping methods for cold chain cargo?

Barges have a bit longer transit time, but the cost savings can be substantial. Air cargo can be prohibitively expensive but may be the only option for items with a short shelf life such as strawberries, for example. When you ship to Puerto Rico by container ship, the transit time is about two days under ideal conditions, and a barge will take about five days.

This makes reefer transport by barge ideal for hardier food-grade commodities such as frozen meat, apples, onions, potatoes, pears, etc. Cool Transport Jax and Trailer Bridge’s close relationship can also help reduce costs by protecting these commodities that won’t spoil until they can be combined with other shipments, to maximize the space on the barge.

What are the greatest risks in the Caribbean cold supply chain?

We’re serving a relatively warm area of the world where not keeping cargo at temperature could be disastrous. The people of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands really count on us to protect the integrity of those goods, to make sure their grocery store shelves remain stocked and their businesses keep running. 

It’s important to us that in addition to preventing as much loss as possible, any issues that do come up can be pinpointed and remedied quickly. This is why inspection and monitoring are so critical. If there was a breakage or spoilage issue in the first 100 miles and the client doesn’t know until they start opening boxes a week later, that’s unacceptable. 

How can mainland USA suppliers connect with refrigerated sea transportation to Puerto Rico?

When customers are using Trailer Bridge reefer barges to ship to Puerto Rico, for example, they have two options:

  • Within a 1,000-mile radius, cargo can be picked up at the supplier’s facility and then shuttled to the port for loading.
  • The exporter can bring it to the Cool Transport Jax cold storage docking facility and then it is put on a TB reefer.

How do you prevent food spoilage or medicine breakage during transit?

We keep tabs on the cargo at every stage of the delivery. Our company employs top quality inspectors who offer a high-touch service. Inspection reports go out constantly, and they are recording everything from damaged boxes to the current temperatures of the cargo. 

Our partner, Trailer Bridge, has invested thousands of dollars into satellite links to constantly monitor reefer units. At the terminal, reefers can plug in so there’s no spoilage if they have to wait for the sailing. 

Our facility at Cool Transportation Jax is built to reduce cold supply chain interruptions. We have a 44-door facility with no staging area, so we aren’t having trucks line up for hours and hours waiting to unload. In fact, we guarantee to get them in and out within two hours. Cargo is backed directly into cold storage and inspectors check the cargo for integrity, quality, and temperature. 

Further, we are inspected and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture and approved by food and pharmaceutical industry quality compliance inspectors from Matrix Sciences. Security, sanitization, and operating under the strictest of food safety guidelines are our top priorities.

Want to learn more?

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

Building Company Culture with Trailer Bridge – Ilona Fischer on What the Truck?!?

Despite the impact of COVID-19, Trailer Bridge has continued to grow as a company, bringing in both new customers and employees. 

How have they been able to do it?

For Ilona Fischer, Director of Marketing, it all comes down to company culture. Having the right team who ascribe to the same values and who are genuinely passionate—not just about serving others but about being respectful and kind to one another—makes all the difference. 

So how does all of that translate to attracting talented new employees as well as boosting business success even during a pandemic? 

Ilona joins Dooner & The Dude, hosts of FreightWaves’ What the Truck?!? podcast to discuss Trailer Bridge’s core values, how they select the right people to join the team and why their employees love coming to work every single day. 

Check out the video here; the full transcript is included below.

 

Building Company Culture with Trailer Bridge – Transcript

Timothy Dooner: [00:09:02] Ilona, thanks for joining us on “What the Truck?” today.

Ilona Fischer: [00:09:05] Hey guys, I’m so happy to be here. 

Ilona: [00:09:17] I love that you guys keep talking about value and caring because that’s who we are as an organization, and that really sums up our marketing. It’s a great place to be. I can’t believe we’ve got all these awesome Trailer Bridge people on. Thank you, guys. 

Dooner: [00:09:32] Yeah, so what is the secret? How do you get them all to follow en mass whenever Trailer Bridge makes an appearance? You travel strong. You’re like the Pittsburgh Steelers or something. You go on the road, and it fills up with yellow and black.

Ilona: [00:09:43] Like, it’s really, it’s just all about love. I mean, we have something so special at Trailer Bridge, and it is our company culture. Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. Our people are our culture, and our culture is our brand. That’s who we are. We are TB Nation. We care about each other. We care about each other so wholeheartedly that you can talk to any of our employees, and they can give you a plethora of stories about the fun times we have, whether it’s Nerf gun wars or how we’ve been able to service a customer, like providing hay to an organization in Puerto Rico

One of our directors, actually his daughter, he gave me permission to say this, but his daughter had cancer. He was sitting there one day in the hospital looking at… yeah, she’s going through chemo, looking up at the IV bags, wondering what he’s doing with his time. He looks up, and he sees the IV bag is manufactured by the company that we ship IV bags for. He looks up, and he’s like, “Oh my god, I had a little part in my experience right now.” Because all of his team, Trailer Bridge, is responsible for bringing things to people to families. That’s an excellent example of how one person is changed by what we do for our families at Trailer Bridge.

Michael Vincent (the Dude): [00:11:28] That is excellent stuff. You know, when you have this type of marketing or this type of culture which truly is there, and Dude and I have spoken about it, every time you guys are on the show that nation follows you guys. The TB Nation follows you guys. It’s amazing. When you’re marketing this type of stuff. It absolutely has to help you to be able to market these things. Many people try and try to market these things, and they’re kind of falsely talking about these things. Talk about the reality of the culture there and how that helps you in the marketing.

Ilona: [00:12:02] Absolutely. Well, I think it comes from building a strong foundation. Mitch and Indie and our entire executive team did a remarkable job a few years ago, developing our core values, which is our TB12. It’s all about being authentic, being honest, being passionate, serving each other, serving our customers. The way we treat our customers is the way we treat each other and vice versa. So, I mean, when you’re treating each other well and loving each other, our customers feel that. It comes back to those same types of values, those TB12 core values. You know, purchases are influenced by a person’s value, and I think the number is something like 75% of people buy based on what their beliefs are. So that’s who we are. We don’t really sell. We are a nation, TB Nation, of just great people who love serving others. We love what we do, and that doesn’t make it hard to market. We just share our experiences.

Dooner: [00:13:12] Marketing may not be the hard part, but how do you make people believe it? Because, you know, brokerages can have a negative perception, it’s fair to say, right? [Dude: Absolutely]. As you know, you go in there, and it’s a grinder. You’re just a number. They chew you up and spit you out if you don’t make your numbers, you don’t book enough shipments, you don’t do whatever, you’re out the door within a year. It’s interchangeable, and you just go to another job. So how do you clear out that perception?

Ilona: [00:13:34] We’ve got a single point of contact for all our customers, and that makes a big difference. There’s nothing automated, it’s automated intelligence, right? It’s not about that. It’s about truly serving the end user and knowing what’s inside that dry van or that container going down to Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic… It’s not so much, like I said, selling the services. It’s about supporting what our values are. We have strong values, and I think that’s what people on the brokerage side feel on the other under the line. So, I think that’s kind of what sets us apart. 

Dude: [00:14:23] Yeah, you know, we often talk about the quality companies. Everybody makes mistakes. It’s how you handle those mistakes and service your customers when there’s issues and things that need to be solved. You wouldn’t have a job if there weren’t things to solve, right? That’s what we do in logistics, we solve things, right? But the Dooner’s point when he’s talking about…, or to expand on that a little bit, when you’re talking about, you know, brokers can come in, it’s just a meat grinder and that type of stuff… I would imagine that your marketing efforts are towards bringing in quality employees and those brokers. Do you find that this, when they get there, and being able to display this real culture, you’re bringing in better talent from the onset?

Ilona: [00:15:03] Well, we’re really particular about the kind of talent that we bring on board. There’s a quote by the Netflix CEO who said that “there are no kind jerks.” Something to that effect, I didn’t get that totally right. But that’s true at Trailer Bridge. What we do is, we hire kind people who care, but who are also, I don’t know, am I allowed to say this?.. badasses that really get the job done. I mean, we work hard, play hard, and we’re honest with our customers, you know, we’re accountable. If we make a mistake, we’ll raise our hand and say, “Oh my god, we screwed up,” and the hope is that we learn from those lessons. 

So, the idea that brokerages, you know, can sometimes have a negative connotation. Well, I think the fact that we’ve assets and we’ve got non-assets… For nearly 30 years, we’ve been around. We’re not a typical brokerage. We’re more than that. We take that quality of service and that level of service that we provide to our Caribbean business and our ocean business over to our brokerage side. So, it’s the people. I mean, our customers feel our people, and here they are on LinkedIn today and on FreightWaves following all of us. 

Dooner: [00:16:23] Indie says ‘there are no brilliant jerks on a dream team’ from the Netflix… I think that’s the direct quote. [Dude: Oh, there you go] How important is it to identify those jerks, that toxic element and remove them from TB?

Ilona: [00:16:37] Oh my gosh, so critical, I tell you. I’ve seen it done since I joined the company nearly two years ago. And it’s… You know, Mitch puts his money where his mouth is. When someone doesn’t have those core values in their heart, and they don’t believe it, and there’s gossip and things like that, we can’t tolerate that. That’s going to kill a culture in a second, you know. But when we have people who are motivated by the same thing, which is really helping that hard-working family get the groceries they need, helping the military – that soldier get the boots that he needs. It’s providing the materials, shipping the materials to Puerto Rico to build and rebuild. That’s what it’s about for Trailer Bridge employees.

Every one of us has a heart, and we share that heart with others. So it just makes being at Trailer Bridge so easy and so great, because, and I want to speak for everybody when I say… and I certainly know I’m speaking for myself, that we enjoy coming to work. You know someone… I’m going to throw Catfish out real quick. Catfish is awesome. He works on our maintenance team. We’ve got some amazing individuals. So, Catfish said to me one time, he goes, “You know, Ilona, when I come in to work at Trailer Bridge, it’s like I’m coming in to my family. I’m walking into my family.” And that’s what it’s about, it’s about loving each other so much – good, bad and indifferent. Every day is not perfect, but it’s truly about loving and admiring and respecting the people that you work with. 

Dooner: [00:18:20] Wow, based on name alone, I think that you have to send us Catfish next time. We have to see Catfish [Dude: Yeah, we’ve got to talk to this Catfish] on the cam. You know, so this term, like drinking the Kool-Aid, it kind of has a negative connotation, right? But do you look for people who come in and are… do you need to hire people who already drink Kool-Aid? Or is there a cultural shift? Are you identifying these great employees who are already bought-in at the point of hire?

Ilona: [00:18:47] Yeah, no, you know, we’ve got such a special thing here. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before in a corporation. So, we’re very particular about the types of people that we bring on board. They have to care, and they have to be kind and respectful because just look at the situation right now just around us, the political climate. It seems to me that there’s just no respect for anyone anymore. But at Trailer Bridge, we’ve navigated through this. We’re navigating through COVID. We’re all supporting each other and loving each other, and that’s just the Trailer Bridge difference. 

Dooner: [00:19:23] Wow, Lorraine Morrow. She says, “I was working from home because of COVID and asked to come back to work.” And then a lot of people are here just reacting to Catfish. A lot of people are very happy about Catfish. So, if we want to send people over to Trailer Bridge and they want to catch their own Catfish, how do we go about doing that? 

Ilona: [00:19:42] Get a pole, right? Come over to trailerbridge.com, check out our Careers page, and check out our Services page. We’re always looking for amazing talent. Amber Humphreys and Becky Sinclair, they’re on it. They’re looking for great employees.

Dooner: [00:20:00] Thank you very much for your time today. We appreciate it, and thanks to your team for joining us too. 

Ilona: [00:20:04] Okay, guys, thank you. 

Dooner: [00:20:06] Take care.

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Develop Empathy & Common Goals to Improve Supply Chain Efficiency

Over the last few decades, transportation businesses have increasingly taken on an assembly line approach to the processes that drive operations and customer service. When clear lines of distinction are drawn between different areas of the business in this way, companies may try to motivate employees with incentives but too often end up in positioning them in competition with one another. While it is fine for businesses to have specialists, no one employee or group should feel separated from the rest of the company. 

Upskilling initiatives that give people the skills to help them cross business segments are just one step in working towards a common business goal. Ultimately, employees should be looking at the big picture and cultivating human relationships through empathy and understanding. While many companies are looking at automation and technology to make themselves more efficient, it’s employees who will provide accountability and problem solving when it’s needed most.

In his latest column for Supply Chain Brain, our VP of Logistics, Eric Masotti, challenges companies to reposition employees to work towards common goals and develop empathy for one another. 

Don’t be afraid of your employees becoming more valuable. Give them the tools to cross boundaries and add the human touch to your business. They will make all the difference with the customer.

Read For 3PLs in the Age of Technology, People Are Still the Key to Success on SupplyChainBrain.com.

Learn more:

 

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

Humanizing Customer Experiences in a Virtual World: Mitch Luciano for Forbes Magazine

With COVID-19 driving forward the pace of digital transformation and automation, companies are having to come up with new ways to keep people engaged. How can you keep up with the rapidly-changing times while still offering an exceptional customer experience?

Our CEO here at Trailer Bridge, Mitch Luciano, and our entire executive team believe one of the keys is learning to utilize technology to enhance employees’ performance rather than replacing them with it. In his most recent column at Forbes Magazine, Mitch reminds us that although technology can revolutionize the customer experience, it also has the power to disrupt it. After all, we can’t teach a machine to care about an outcome or have true passion for making sure the job is done right. What’s important is that you have the right people driving such systems, keeping them on track, and tailoring them to the customer’s specific needs. 

In any company, employees are the ones who know customers best. Your employees are the ones on the front lines, developing and nurturing the relationships that underline excellent customer service. Never have such relationships been more crucial than right now. 

As Mitch explains, “This moment in time requires greater empathy and caring than ever before. People are prioritizing their physical and mental health. They are embracing technologies that bring them peace of mind during this time of extreme disruption and stress. Giving customers an exceptional experience today and in the future requires a healthy dose of love and empathy.”

While this increased adoption of technology reflects the present times, many experts believe that they are here to stay. Companies need to respond to these changes by figuring out ways to best put technology to work for them while still preserving the employee-customer interactions that make them feel valued and keep them coming back. 

Check out Mitch’s article in full at Forbes.com.

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Keeping the People of Transportation Safe in Times of Crisis

There’s a long tradition in logistics and transportation of pushing through at all costs when the chips are down. Those who succeed are those with the tenacity to keep going with energy, commitment, and hustle—those who don’t stop until they get the job done. They are what makes the industry so exciting, and they are the ones that we rely on to make sure the goods we need get where they need to be.

This current crisis is different, though. Fear, stress, and anxiety are not conducive to a high-performance environment and with the Coronavirus pandemic, employees have been experiencing this heightened state of alert for over half a year now. It’s a different type of challenge – one involving health and safety – and it’s one that we haven’t really experienced. 

And while transportation and logistics professionals are among the hardiest and best, they may nonetheless feel the uncertainty of the current situation. Concerns for health, employment, and financial security may be tapping on the shoulders of employees in this industry as in all others in today’s environment. 

So, how do you make sure you’re building people up when it may feel like the world (and industry) are falling down around you?  

Let’s start with how we define a safe environment for our employees. Physical safety is imperative, but our employees’ mental wellness and financial safety are just as important. When a team member is worried about where their family’s next meal is coming from or that they may not have a job next month, it’s not easy for them to be 100% on. 

The pandemic may still be affecting us through this winter, and it’s time for companies to reassess what is and what isn’t working. Many teams have been through massive changes in their work environment and workflows, going entirely remote or shifting back and forth between working from home and returning to socially distant workspaces. Concerns about healthcare, government, children’s education, the environment and equality are very real, and they are stretching many people close to their breaking point.

If we plan to keep America’s supply chain moving, to keep PPE and essential supplies flowing through whatever comes our way in the coming months, we need to put serious effort into protecting the people of transportation. 

Physical safety

First and foremost, we must keep employees physically safe while doing their job, whether at home, in the office, onboard a barge, driving a truck, or working a dock or warehouse. For remote workers, this could mean providing equipment and funding for an ergonomically correct workspace. It could mean enhanced PPE and the redesign of office and warehouse spaces for those attending your physical locations. 

In our offices, we’ve put several measures in place to reduce the risk of COVID transmission as much as possible:

  • Reducing outside vendors and visitors to our locations
  • Temperature checks for everyone entering the office
  • Providing and enforcing the use hand sanitizers and sanitary wipes 
  • Deep cleaning and sanitizing the offices every night 
  • Redesigned workstations with plexiglass barriers
  • Supporting a portion of the workforce in continuing to work remote to facilitate that physical distancing in-office  

Job security and financial safety

We need to keep our employees engaged and connected so that our sense of service and care for each other is intact. The care we give employees in ensuring their security and stability translates directly into their ability to care for customers.

If your company had to reduce staff during COVID-19, you’re certainly not alone.  I appreciate those are difficult decisions to make. Displaced team members may have moved on to new roles and that loss of talent can hinder the business long after the initial crisis is over. 

As an alternative and to prevent future layoffs if business interruptions persist this winter, look for creative ways to develop your team that will serve you better going forward. In May, right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis, we started an upskilling initiative to deliver valuable and engaging training remotely. We hired a partner to create a virtual training facility and created short, engaging micro-trainings that employees could work into their day (rather than burning them out with intensive, all-day training sessions). 

Part of this included a skill-sharing initiative in which we tapped into the business-specific knowledge of team members and had them lead hour-long training sessions for their peers. The bonus with this skillshare activity is the level of engagement it creates. Employees were able to meet people from other teams, departments, and offices across the country in these virtual spaces and to learn from one another. That knowledge that is inherent to your own organization is so valuable and difficult to capture otherwise. 

What’s more, it enabled us to avoid laying off a single employee. When the transportation industry is wildly in flux, you need to keep all hands on deck if you want to be positioned to jump back in when opportunity strikes.

Mental wellness and safe spaces

Employees need to see your empathy and willingness to respond to their needs in times of crisis. They need you to really listen. Simply asking how everyone is doing isn’t enough. “How are you?” is a polite, perfunctory question that begs an equally polite, indifferent answer. 

Move past these barriers to open communication by providing an environment in which two-way communication is the norm and employees are empowered to share exactly how they’re feeling, even if that is, “I can’t take another minute of this.”

This can be a really difficult thing to do if your organization hasn’t been receptive to critical feedback in the past. But it’s worth getting it right. Employees need to know they can express a concern, make a complaint, or suggest a change without incurring the wrath of a team leader—or worse, their complete indifference. You can’t implement every idea that comes your way, but you can certainly communicate that you understood the ask and explain why you chose the path you did.

Online video events are also important, so the connection of face-to-face interaction doesn’t fall off despite remote working distances. Zoom fatigue is a real issue, though. Make sure that your virtual team meetings, brainstorm sessions, and after-hours social networking have a purpose. If an online event is mandatory, keep it as brief and to the point as possible. 

Commit to protecting, caring for, and loving your employees through this.

Love shouldn’t come across as a radical word in business. Keeping the people of transportation safe and secure is essential in protecting the supply chain. The Coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a long-lasting, ongoing issue, and we can’t expect our employees to just grind their way through it without help.  

As leaders, we must support our people through this, build them up, and give them the tools to do their best for every single customer with whom they come in contact with—and for each other. If we commit to putting employees’ wellbeing and safety top priority, who knows what we can accomplish together when this crisis passes. 

Learn more:

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

Creating a Great Company Culture – Indie Bollman on What the Truck?!?

How can your brand maintain and even cultivate a great culture during the pandemic? What are the best ways for your leaders to pay attention to your employees and help them win and grow?

Dooner and The Dude, hosts of FreightWaves’ mega-popular ‘What the Truck?!?’ podcast, welcomed Trailer Bridge’s own Indie Bollman, VP of Organizational Development, on the show this week to talk all things leadership, company culture, and employee growth.

Check out this 9-minute video chat in which Indie, Dooner and The Dude discuss:

  • Failure, perseverance, and learning
  • Maintaining a great culture during COVID-19
  • Helping employees win and grow
  • Connecting with employees and having fun
  • The dangers of selfishness
  • Employees as sources of innovation

Grab a beverage and get comfortable. If you have any questions about this show or Trailer Bridge’s team and services, shoot us an email or reach out to the team on Twitter. Ready? Let’s do this!

Trailer Bridge’s Indie Bollman Interviews with Dooner & The Dude on ‘What The Truck?!?’ – Full transcript

Dooner: Let’s bring Indie Bollman up. She’s Vice President of Organizational Development at Trailer Bridge. Trailer Bridge always travels with the TB Nation.

The Dude: Trailer Bridge Nation in the house, right?

Dooner: Trailer Bridge Nation—they’re usually here. Hey, Indie. What’s going on?

Indie Bollman: Hey, guys, yeah, TB nation, we definitely got a lot of pow-pow over here. Thank you for having me on this morning.

Failure, perseverance, and learning

Dooner: I was reading through some of your articles today about culture on LinkedIn. I found it fascinating and I liked your judicious use of Southern language. The other thing I liked a lot was, you mentioned quite a few times, when it came to culture, you learn these lessons from your kids, right? And myself as a father of a three- and six-year-old, those challenges have definitely taught me a lot about leadership and patience.

Indie:  Yeah. They definitely will. I have one, I have a daughter. And she’s a little bit older than that but she definitely taught me the value of, you know, allowing someone, when you’re leading a team, let them stumble a little bit and learn their own way. It tells them that, for sure, you trust in what they can do and that you believe in them. And there’s something really magical about people when they know you believe in them. So, we definitely want to do that a lot here at Trailer Bridge. And I’m so happy to say that we do.

Dooner: That’s great advice. I mean, sometimes you’ve got to let them fail. But, you know, other times it teaches you that sometimes you don’t need to win every single battle, right?

Indie: Yeah, that’s hard for me sometimes. But it’s absolutely true, especially those of us that like to get things done, but sometimes you have to let them learn that too and then be there to guide them. And, of course, sometimes you have to pick what’s the thing to let them stumble at. And that all starts with having great people that join your team and the right people that join your team. And so, we do spend quite a bit of time on getting that right.

Maintaining a great culture during COVID-19

The Dude: Yeah, absolutely, and I want to talk about that. So, Indie, can we talk a little bit about culture and the challenges of keeping a good culture, especially during disruption, like we’re seeing this year?

Indie: Right. This has presented quite a bit of a challenge lately this year, and, you know, keeping culture alive. And we’re a company that’s very much focused on being together and collaborating, and the energy we get from all being together. What we’ve done is just simply ask our question to ourselves, “what do we do to keep that going?” And it’s really nothing different. We definitely still connect: we use Zoom calls, we have meetings, we have a lot of activities and events, we for sure have kept training going. 

I think a lot of companies during this time kind of hit the brakes a little bit on training, and we went just the opposite. We said, no, let’s keep building the energy. We’re coming out of this the other side bigger and better. Let’s prepare our people to do that. So instead of slowing anything down, we definitely just put our foot a little bit more on the gas and said let’s go through it and see where we come out. And we’re so excited. So far, results are great.

Dooner: Well, Charlie Sanchez says, “Great coach and mentor.” Katherine Markhart says, “Indie: our woman of influence.” Becky says, “Indie is our cultural queen.” And Jacksonville Business Journal: “2020 women of influence.” You people at Trailer Bridge are rock stars apparently.

Indie: That’s great! I am certainly humbled by all of that, and I have to tell you, TB nation is very, very strong. And we absolutely love our people. I know I’ve heard Mitch say that before and it’s so true. Every leader here just loves our people and we are supremely focused on having them win. And we know here at Trailer Bridge, if we’re focused on them—we’re getting that right—we will win too as a company. And I gotta tell you, I’ve been here five and a half, almost six years. Working in that way has proven to be absolutely the right thing to do. So, love your people, everybody!

Help your employees win and grow

Dooner: You’re probably one of the best people to talk to about this. We’ve tried to get the answer from the other Trailer Bridge people. But culturally, how do you get your team, because this is such a good recruiting aspect? I think having your entire team show up here during this live thing—I mean, you put most other businesses to shame; they don’t travel this well, right? They don’t travel at all. Tell me, how do you get everyone so involved in what Trailer Bridge is doing? How do you get them so passionate about it?

Indie: I think it’s very simple: we involve them. And we make our leadership focused on what helps them win, what helps them grow. What is it they want? What is it they believe in? And how do we coach them and train them and give them the opportunities to grow into what they want to have in their life and what they want to achieve in their career? 

When people feel like you believe in them and you’re for them, they absolutely plug into the purpose of what you’re doing. And we’re very clear on what our purpose here at Trailer Bridge is and that’s to help people to serve other people.

Connect with your employees and have fun

The Dude: So, Indie, as advice to other leadership to try and foster the same thing and have the TB Nation, or whatever nation (add your name here), show up and really be involved and feel that love and be connected in the company, what are some of the pitfalls that are there?

Indie: The pitfalls? Well, I think if you don’t connect with your people, just getting to know them, I think that’s crucial. If you’re not spending time talking with them, in whatever format you can get that today or after COVID, you really have to connect with people and find out where they’re at. Shutting yourself away in your office won’t work. 

If you have a culture that’s dynamic and buoyant, or that’s the one that you want, you’re going to have to get out there and talk to your people. You’re going to have to keep an eye on where it is they want to grow and provide those opportunities. Here at Trailer Bridge, we do understand that we bring on these very high-end talented people, and they’re type A and they’re dynamic and they want to grow. We have to provide a place for them to do that. If we’re growing, they’ll grow. 

And I think outside, which is the most important, but outside of just loving your people, I mean, really letting them know, I think you just have to have a little fun. I like to have some fun throughout my day and if I can’t laugh at myself a little bit, I think I’m in the wrong place. But here, we definitely have a lot of fun in what we do. And we get a lot of work done as a result.

The dangers of selfishness

Dooner: Now, Indie, what does “Honey Badger Don’t Care” mean to you?

Indie: Oh, my goodness, you did read up! Okay, “Honey Badger.” I don’t know if you guys remember that crazy little video that came out years ago. “Honey Badger Don’t Care” is someone who, all they care about is achieving the thing that they want to achieve, and they don’t care who they hurt or tear up in the process. I think that’s a dangerous way to go about leading people. You gotta make sure that the people who are in your wake are fulfilled and happy and clear on what their purpose is.

Dooner: How do you smoke out those honey badgers? How do you find them in the organization and get rid of them?

Indie: We don’t have any honey badgers here, thank goodness. But I think the key piece of leadership advice, that when people ask me, I just tell, “Pay attention.” Just pay attention, get in contact with your people, and pay attention.

Your people are sources of innovation

The Dude: Excellent. And those were the things that I was driving at when I asked what are the pitfalls, right? What are the leadership boo-boos under that childhood theme when Dooner was talking about his kids? So, leadership boo-boo number one: always right, never wrong. Talk to me about that.

Indie: Yeah, I think it’s easy in some cases for leaders to think that because of the level they’ve attained, or their skills or their background or all their creds that they have, that they know all the answers and they’re never wrong. And I think one of the biggest sources of innovation and new ideas and creativity is your people, is what you’ve hired them for. So, don’t assume that as a leader you have the answers. In fact, I would encourage anybody on any team at any level: don’t assume you have the answers. Always be open to hear what’s out there. And to hear a new idea or new way of looking at things. After all, that’s how new things come up.

Dooner: Wow. So, if you want people to join your culture and join that TB nation, start using that hashtag and start watching the What the Truck live whenever Trailer Bridge people come on. Where should we send them to? Because participation is a big thing and it’s hard to get people to follow along with what leadership is doing unless they really buy into it. I think that’s the biggest selling factor for TB and that’s one of the best things we can talk about in regards to your company. So where do we send them to so they can consider a career with your team or just learn more?

Indie: Well, first of all, we’d love to hear from anybody who wants to join a place that has the culture that we have and is very focused on it. And so, you go to trailerbridge.com. There’s a site there listing all of our open positions. We are growing, and so if something’s not there right now that you’d be interested in, coming back shortly and just keep an eye on what’s available.

Dooner: Thank you very much for joining us today. We really appreciate your time.

The Dude: Thank you.

Indie: It’s fun. Thank you so much. Bye-bye.

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Why High-Touch Service is Still Vital in the Freight Industry [VIDEO]

While technology undoubtedly has a place in 3PL transportation solutions, for Eric Masotti, Vice President of Logistics at Trailer Bridge, maintaining a balance of digitization and the human element is key for providing the very best customer experience. 

Here he outlines his perspective on the human freight brokers versus digital freight broker debate to Emily Szink, Executive Vice President of Content at FreightWaves, and explains why he feels that despite higher costs, people are crucial to the entire shipping process. 

Take a look at the video to find out more on the value of the human element in this industry and how technology can help employees be even better at their jobs. The transcript is included below.

Company Culture Update: Using technology to empower employees, not replace them

Emily Szink: [00:00:11] We’ve seen the benefits of automation in digital transformation in all kinds of industries, but are fully digital freight brokers really the way of the future?  I’m Emily Szink, the EVP of Content here at Freight Waves. Joining me to answer that question today is Erik Masotti. He is the Vice President of Logistics at Trailer Bridge. Eric, thanks for joining us today.

Eric Masotti: [00:0032] Thanks for having me. This is great.

Emily: [00:00:34] Well Eric, I would love to dive into an article you recently wrote on TrailerBridge.com about digital versus human freight brokers. For the audience, of course, give a little bit of background about this article. I’m sure everyone is curious to know what you found out.

Eric: [00:00:49] Yes, the article talked about the human freight brokers versus the digital freight broker companies that have come out in our industry in the last four or five years. I really think one of the confusing things is that technology is at play in both solutions. Both of them are providing clients with the state-of-the-art technology that’s going to allow the companies to do and handle their freight as efficiently and effectively as possible.

We just believe that instead of technology being the only source of a solution for the client, that our approach, where we have experts involved in the decisions empowered to make the decisions, really provide the client with the best solution. When something goes wrong, there’s someone there to call. I think we’ve all had an experience where we have had a cable company or a TV provider, and something goes out. There’s no customer rep for us to call, and so you get online, and you wait. It’s just not a great experience. So finding a way to have someone for the customer to talk to, along with providing the efficient and effective technology solutions, we think, is the best way.

Emily: [00:01:52] We just touched on this a little bit. Going fully digital really just leads to efficiency at the cost of a human relationship. What are some of the risks of removing humans from this process entirely?

Eric: [00:02:05] It really just comes down to, when something goes wrong, do you want to be able to talk to a human to get the right solution, or do you want to get on a phone or an email and wait for a response? 

I mean, there’s a lot of things that are behind that, where technology can be efficient and effective. But if your account manager or your salesperson – your rep – isn’t involved in the process from the origin of the load creation to the load delivery, when something goes wrong, they’re not just going to all of a sudden be experts at what happened and where it went. And so, even though we are using technology to help us do those things efficiently, that account rep, that person that handles the customer is involved throughout the process, making those decisions.

Emily: [00:02:46] You just gave a few examples of this, but why do you feel that people are so essential to successful 3PL transactions?

Eric: [00:02:54] At Trailer Bridge, for us, it really comes down to the company culture and empowering our employees. A lot of times, and this is some of the reason that the digital freight brokers have become en vogue here recently, is to devalue the employee because employees bring risk, they can do something wrong. But they can also gain customer relationships and become so critical to the relationship that people feel the employees can be a threat. 

And so, you know, we just turn that situation on its head. We want employees to have great relationships with our customers. And we don’t have non-competes and we don’t do all these things because we want those relationships to really be true. Not just, “Hey, how is it going?” but to know when their birthdays are, and if they have children or if they like sports teams. All those things are just really critical to making a great buying experience because customers are buying with us.

Emily: [00:03:49] That is completely right, and I love this next part. In your article, you mentioned that Trailer Bridge uses technology to empower its employees, not replace them. This technology helps augment their performance, so they could do better at their jobs. What does this look like inside the organization for you?

Eric: [00:04:07] The technology’s at play on a variety of different levels, from making the carrier selection process smoother and easier. 

We also have Gamification Leadership Boards. We’ve got multiple offices here domestically, in the US, also in the Caribbean, also in Latin America. In all these locations, we’ve got leaderboards that will play walk-up music if something happens in one of the contests that we’re running. 

But by just showing employees where they stand, understanding the kind of performance that we are looking for, so they understand and we understand. We’re trying to get to the same goal, and the goal is satisfying customers.

Emily: [00:04:43] And gamification is so big in every industry but especially ours. What are some things that companies should consider to ensure they have the proper balance of digitization and the human element?

Eric: [00:04:55] You know, for us at Trailer Bridge, we’re transferring from multiple TMS systems to one. We have multiple service offerings from ocean, domestic truckload, brokerage, drayage, and we’re putting that in one TMS to give employees more solutions right at their fingertips. 

How we do business compared to some of our competitors… some of our competitors like to silo their operations. So they will have one group of salespeople, one group of account managers, one group of operational staff. And for us, you know, we have people that specialize in different tasks, but we put them in the same group. Putting them in the same group really allows that the incentive structures to stay in alignment. Oftentimes, when they are separated, they are not really working for the customers so much as they are working for their department, and we want the staff movers to work for the customer.

Emily: [00:05:46] Lovely. A great conversation, Eric, and I think this is a topic that’s going to be continued to talk about throughout our industry. If you would like to see more content just like this, make sure you head to tv.freightwaves.com.

For more on this, check out Eric’s blog post Digital Freight Brokers vs Human Freight Brokers. 

Want to learn more?

Do You Have a Company Culture Employees Want to Come Back To?

Recent survey results from PwC tell us that since the Coronavirus pandemic, 77% of employees would like to work from home at least two days a week. There are real, tangible reasons people may want to work from home—reduced commuting time and expense, and concerns over exposure to COVID-19 among them.

But there are also drawbacks to working remotely. In its State of Remote Work survey, Buffer found that the inability to unplug, loneliness, and difficulty collaborating were top barriers to remote work cited by employees. Those are some fairly impactful issues.

Coming into the office should be a fun, restorative, collaborative experience that gets employees energized and ready to do their best work. Maybe it’s time we take a critical look at why else employees may not want to return to the workplace.

In her latest column for TalentCulture, our VP of Organizational Development Indie Bollman does just that. And as she wrote, “The question isn’t whether your people will be able to work remotely over the long-term. We have the communications and collaboration technology to make it happen. The real question is whether your company can survive a sustained remote environment.”

Read More Employees Want Remote Work, But Do Yours (and Why)? on TalentCulture.com.

Learn more:

 

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

Trailer Bridge is a 2020 Healthiest Companies Award Winner!

Trailer Bridge is honored to have received an award from First Coast Worksite Wellness Council for our commitment to employees’ health and wellness. It’s an important distinction for the TB Family, as we’ve strived to create a culture of wellness—and that’s never been more important than throughout this past year.

The Healthiest Company Awards give special recognition to companies that have made notable strides towards improving health and safety for their team. Community leaders for worksite wellness, their organization provides companies and wellness professionals with programs, education and resources to optimize their employee health and wellness programs.

Companies involved are assessed on:

  • Leadership alignment
  • Promoting a healthy work environment and culture
  • Wellness collaboration and program design
  • Wellness programs and initiatives to support wellbeing
  • Evaluating and measuring opportunities and successes

At Trailer Bridge, our employees are and will always be our top priority.

Our people are the heart and soul of our company. They are the creativity, problem-solving, dedication and love that makes it happen.

As Indie Bollman, VP of Organizational Development explains in The Best Place to Work is the Best Place to Do Business. Here’s Why, “When our people are taken care of—when they are energized and fulfilled and are plugged into how we serve others—they take care of our customers in that same spirit.” 

At Trailer Bridge, all employees have access to health insurance, which includes dental, vision, life insurance, disability, and AD&D. They are also provided with a retirement savings plan, a flexible spending account and a health savings account. Further benefits include paid time off and holiday alongside parental and maternal leave. And we also offer employee assistance, tuition reimbursement, as well as leadership development and fitness programs. 

Looking after employees becomes all the more important in times of crisis.

With the onset of COVID-19, we implemented a number of safety measures to protect and assist team members. These included enhanced social distancing and sanitization practices for those who remained on-site and specific support for those who transitioned to working remotely. 

To support the mental wellbeing of our TB Family during a period of widespread fear, stress, isolation and uncertainty, we arranged for employees to have access to online and telephone counseling. We also organized weekly meetings to provide information about the company’s future directions, in a forum that encourages individuals to voice any questions or concerns they may have. Finally, we set up an intranet site, connecting all of our offices and departments with access to contests, events, news, and most importantly to other people. 

However, while COVID-19 has brought employee wellness to the forefront of everyone’s minds, and rightly so, here at Trailer Bridge it’s been a priority for us long before the pandemic began—and will remain so long after it is over. 

Our Core Values drive us to keep making Trailer Bridge an excellent place to work.

Trailer Bridge's core values drive the empathy, love and respect our employees deserve.

The positive and trusting company culture we’ve worked to build together has previously earned us recognition by Jacksonville Business Journal as the #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville, by Inc. Magazine as a Best Workplace for 2020, and by Quest for Quality Awards who dubbed us Best-in-Class Ocean Freight Carrier.

But we’re not done yet! We will continue to work hard at creating a work environment where all team members feel valued and appreciated and support every employee’s wellbeing. After all, the success of any company hinges on the work of its various team members. As our CEO Mitch Luciano points out, “When you love and care for your employees, they build the business for you.”

In this uncertain market, through the continued hard work of our dedicated team members, we have continued sailing at full capacity. We have even added 180 new customers to our logistics business with record-setting growth. These are achievements of which our employees can justifiably be proud.

Trailer Bridge is hiring! If you like the sound of what we do and think you could bring value as a member of the TB Family, check out our careers page to see what jobs are currently on offer. 

Building Trust & Keeping Morale High in Times of Turmoil [VIDEO]

How can you sustain long-term relationships and build trust with partners and customers, even in times of turmoil? 

Trailer Bridge CEO Mitch Luciano chatted with Andrew Cox, Research Analyst at FreightWaves, about the importance of communication and engagement during this pandemic. 

You could say Mitch has a bit of experience in the company culture and morale department. An Ultimate CEO Award winner himself, he’s led the Trailer Bridge team not only to recognition as the #1 Ocean Carrier in its class but also as a #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville and an Inc Magazine Top Workplace for 2020.

Learn how to pull your work family together, keep morale high, and deal with additional stressors in operations in ways that protect your relationships—and your business. Check out the video here and the full transcript below:

Full Transcript: Company Culture Update — Continue to maintain internal and external communication

Andrew Cox: [00:00:12] The importance of clear and open communication across the industry during times like these is paramount to success. I’m Andrew Cox, Research Analyst here at Freight Waves. And here to give us a culture update and discuss communication both internally and externally is Mitch Luciano, CEO and President of Trailer Bridge. Mitch, thank you for joining me and how are we today?

Mitch Luciano: [00:00:29] You’re doing great, Andrew. Thank you for having me.

Alex: [00:00:31] Of course. Again, thank you for joining us. We are seeing a lot of tight capacity across the freight markets with transportation utilization and prices now hitting 19-month highs. As networks become strained, how do you recommend managing some of these issues with customers as compliance and service levels tend to fall?

Mitch: [00:00:50] I think the number one thing is commitment. You know, at Trailer Bridge, we have an asset side and non-asset side and so the asset side, we’re seeing that capacity crunch with our own equipment. But we’ve made a commitment to our customers through contracts we have with them that we’re going to live and we’re going to live up to those. We’re not going to change the pricing structure. We’re not going to alter how we do business.

On the non-asset side, it’s a little bit different for us. We kind of fluctuate when the market fluctuates. And so, we’ve made a commitment to our clients what that has meant is that we are losing a significant amount of money on that side of the equation. But that’s okay. You know in the long term, if we look at this month by month, we’re not going to be able to make that commitment. We have to look at the long-term partnerships we have and it has provided a lot of growth for that side. I think companies out there need to say to themselves you know we can look at the short-term, make a lot of money in three months so we can look at the long-term and sustain through commitments they’ve had with their customers.

Alex: [00:01:40] Seems that’s going to be a common theme across the industry here is having to make sacrifices to prove your commitment and ensure that you’re committed that gains loyalty and builds long-term relationship certainly. How are you working to improve communications around market activity both internally and externally with your customers?

Mitch: [00:01:55] Well, internally it’s pretty easy for us because we had a lot of this going into the pandemic. So we communicate a lot internally already with our team. You know with the Internet, monthly town halls, daily, weekly and Zoom calls with people throughout the entire company. We have a lot of staff that’s in the office too so they are able to communicate with each other.

And externally, it’s just about making sure our team talks to our customers, our carriers, our vendors on a regular basis. And then we provide them more information with email campaigns and other forms of communication that we just keep pushing information out. Let them know how we’re doing, what we’re doing and it’s really played a big role and provide a lot of value for our clients and ultimately for us in the long run.

Alex: [00:02:33] So you’ve said it’s been easy to keep up communications internally because you have so many different mediums to do so, but you know, in these times of uncertainty, there’s often issues with morale and productivity that often arise. How has your organization faced those issues head-on during this time?

Mitch: [00:02:48] Yes without a doubt, right so they say that the studies over and over tell us that employees become disengaged when they work from home. So how do we ensure that they remain engaged? A lot of that is talking to them, listen to what their needs are, and trying to help them with those needs. And also with communication with the entire team, we make sure that you know, I talked about we had it ahead of time but how do we keep that morale up? I’ll be honest, it’s tough, right? It’s very difficult but you have to remain positive and know that there is an end.

There will absolutely be an end and I think people appreciate that. They appreciate the open communication, telling how the company’s doing, being truthful about everything. And when you have that relationship with your team, I think you can keep the morale up. I’m almost positive we can because we’re doing it. And then I also believe you can- you know they won’t lose it, right? I mean I want to lose it a little bit, sitting at home but making sure they say remain positive is going to be really important, and we’re able to do that right now by just communicate, communicate, and communicate.

Alex: [00:03:45] Positivity and truth, that seems like two things that we all need to take more into our life. But what have been some of the biggest challenges of operating in this environment? How are you working to overcome them as an organization?

Mitch: [00:03:55] Well, the biggest challenge that we face is when your team does get hit with the virus, and it’s usually not just one person on a singular group. It’s a group of people that have a dedicated job to get done. And so we as a group, we as a company, as a family have pulled together to help support when someone has an acquaintance in an office that was positive for Covid, we take the steps to say “Okay, everyone has to step out now. Everyone has to go get a test. Get two negative tests before we come back.” If companies are following the CDC guidelines and their taking those steps, it can put a lot of stress on the operational team.

And so we all take turns and step in and follow through with what they need. I will have a group step in and do the job of another group just because that team is so far down and they’ve been cross-trained so they know how to help and that really has been provided a lot of value for Trailer Bridge. Ultimately, is having them cross-train from the get-go.

Alex: [00:04:51] Yes, I mean that’s you were set up for a situation like this in which you had to have people step into different roles. You know, there’s been a lot of unique situations that have evolved and arisen from this Covid-19 pandemic. Can you give me an example of a situation that you’ve encountered during this time that has really proven to be unique solely to this time and how have you guys worked to address it?

Mitch: [00:05:10] I think probably the most unique thing is when you actually see it happen. When you see your professional family or God forbid, your personal family get hit by the virus, what can we do to make sure that we make their lives easier? You know, seeing that emotion, that raw emotion people don’t know what’s about to happen. We’ve had horrible cases and we’ve had some people that just got through it with no problem.

I think that’s probably the most unique thing when people, if you don’t experience, you don’t know what it’s like. We unfortunately experienced it and we stay positive. We give them the support they need. We make sure they actually step away from the job for a bit just to take care of their family. And that’s what’s really helped get us through this.

Alex: [00:05:55] Thank you again for joining me today, Mitch. Stay tuned for more culture updates in the beginning and stay tuned for Freight Waves for all the latest.

Learn more

 

Transitioning from Military to Civilian Logistics – From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite

 

How can transitioning members of the military successfully make the move from active duty to veteran and a new career in business? How should they find that new role and what skills will they need?

Nick Howland, host of iwantabuzz.com’s From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite, welcomed Trailer Bridge’s own Alex Vohr on the show to talk about transitioning from the military to the business world.

Alex Vohr is Vice President of Government Affairs at Trailer Bridge where he builds relationships and develops opportunities with government agencies.

Check out this 9-minute video chat in which Nick and Alex discuss:

  • Trailer Bridge hiring veterans for logistics roles
  • The importance of networking 
  • Upskilling your financial acumen
  • Upskilling for going into business

Grab a beverage and get comfortable. You can watch the full video here and catch the highlights in the transcript below. If you have any questions about this show or Trailer Bridge’s team and services, shoot us an email or reach out to the team on Twitter. Ready? Let’s do this!

Trailer Bridge VP interviews with Nick Howland on From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite – Full transcript

Trailer Bridge VP interviews with Nick Howland on From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite

Nick Howland: [00:00:11] Welcome to “From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite”, a program sponsored by The Fire Watch and focused on understanding the transitions from military active duty to veteran status. That’s a particularly important time for a veteran; it’s when they are particularly vulnerable. And we are lucky enough to be able to explore some experiences of veterans in Northeast Florida and find out what they did to implement a successful transition. I’m Nick Holland, your host, and also the Executive Director of The Fire Watch. With me today is Alex Vohr, Senior Vice-President at Trailer Bridge. And we are really fortunate to have him. Thanks for joining us, Alex.

Alex Vohr: [00:00:45] Thanks very much. I appreciate the opportunity to be here.

Nick: [00:00:47] Tell us a little bit about Trailer Bridge.

Alex: [00:00:49] Well, Trailer Bridge is a company that started focused on the Puerto Rico trade. We run Jones Act vessels between Jacksonville and Puerto Rico. There’s a few companies in that space up here, and they’ve been in business since about 1990. We also have a logistics business that we’re expanding right now. When I say logistics, I’m mostly talking about a truckload brokerage but we also have our own assets as well. And that’s where we see the most opportunity for growth. Recently, Trailer Bridge has been recognized as one of the best places to work in Jacksonville and we’ve got a really interesting culture there. A culture that is something that’s actively fostered by our CEO Mitch Luciano. It’s very much like the Marine Corps is what I’ve told him. It’s one where he focuses on leadership more so than any organization I’ve seen. So it’s a great place to be.

Trailer Bridge Hiring Veterans for Logistics Roles

Nick: [00:01:46] Interesting. I understand that Trailer Bridge is interested in hiring veterans for logistics roles.

Alex: [00:01:51] We are. The logistics world/brokerage world is a fast-paced world. Things happen every day pretty quickly, which is not unlike a lot of times what you face when you’re in uniform. And so it might be an interesting environment and we are growing. And we are looking to grow in our logistics space, so there’s going to be an opportunity there over the next few years.

Nick: [00:02:11] Oh, that’s fantastic. Now, about you, Alex. You’re a former Marine. Actually, people always say you’re still a Marine.

Alex: [00:02:16] Still a Marine.

Nick: [00:02:17] 25 years in the Marine Corps and you’re in logistics. Can you tell me a little bit about what you did?

Alex: [00:02:20] Sure. So, I started as a Marine Logistics officer, and what I did back in the late 1980s, it was a relatively new occupational specialty at that time. Logisticians, in the broadest sense, we were responsible for embarkation on amphibious shipping. We also were responsible for maintenance and maintenance management of equipment, and then combat logistics, or combat service supports. So “beans, bullets and Band-Aids” on the battlefield.

Nick: [00:02:45] Does it ever disappoint you that Trailer Bridge probably does not have any amphibious landing vehicles in its fleet?

Alex: [00:02:50] Well, yes, it does. You see some of those vessels sometimes when you are in the Florida area, especially when I worked for a while down in South Florida. One of our sister companies, SEACOR Island Lines, uses landing craft to run around the Bahamas.

Nick: [00:03:05] Do they really?

Alex: [00:03:06] They do, because it’s mostly islands in the Bahamas, it’s all just boat ramps. They don’t have any docks or piers so they run those things off, drop the ramp and offload them. So, I felt very much at home when I would see those. 

The Importance of Networking 

Nick: [00:03:17] Well, let’s talk about your transition. You being a logistician in the Marine Corps and now you’re doing logistics as a civilian. Was that what you wanted to do when you were looking for your second career, having retired out of the Marine Corps?

Alex: [00:03:28] To be quite honest, I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do when I left the Marine Corps. I didn’t spend a lot of time focused on it, which I don’t think is terribly unusual. For one thing, you don’t know what you don’t know unless you spend a lot of time researching it. And the other thing is, veterans are often very busy until the time that they transition. And to an extent, you think, “Well, I’ll figure that out one when I get there.” And so, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was very fortunate after having done a lot of the typical kind of application approach, where you find job opportunities and you apply without a lot of success. I reached out to another Marine who had worked with for years before and he connected me with a gentleman named Jim Hertwig, who was the CEO of Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) at that time. And Jim had made a point of hiring Marine colonels, and I was his 3rd or 4th Marine colonel hire. A week later, I started at FEC after I got connected with Jim, so it was that quick.

Nick: [00:04:30] It’s interesting what you just said. It was a connection that you had, that you reached out to. It was a little networking that you did.

Alex: [00:04:35] A hundred percent.

Nick: [00:04:36] And I think it’s something that we don’t encourage transitioning military members to do enough of. And we’re hoping shows like we have here will help veterans realize that there are others like them who have been through similar things. So, reach out and ask for help.

Alex: [00:04:50] The networking is the most important thing as far as I’m concerned. And the reason it is, is because a resume goes in blind. Let’s say there’s a vice-president who wants to hire somebody. The HR person, the recruiter is not going to give them a resume when they say, “Hey, give me 5 resumes.” They’re not going to give one that is not an obvious with the skills they are looking for, which means the military resumes get sorted out right from the very get-go. But if somebody they trust says, “Hey, you should give this person a chance,” boom! That makes all the difference right there. That’s why networking is really important.

Upskilling Your Financial Acumen

Nick: [00:05:24] Absolutely. And you and I talked before we start filming the show. And we each had one particular weakness we thought when we were coming out of the service and that is financial acumen. Because maybe you learn to manage a budget because you’re responsible for a people, or department, or division but you don’t really understand the profit motive when you’re in the military. And it’s something you need to understand when you’re out and in industry. Tell me how you overcame that challenge.

Alex: [00:05:48] Well, that is absolutely the case. Finances is what you’re working with in the commercial world. You don’t even really give it much of a thought when you’re in uniform. And I was a logistics guy, so around budgets like that. As you know, you get rewarded for spending money fast out there, not necessarily preserving it. I paid attention. That was the big thing that I did. I did a lot of self-study though as well, and there are some great books out there that you can use. Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean, which is put out by Harvard Business School, is a really accessible book to just understanding the lingo. And what I found over time is that, if you intentionally study that, you’ll find that you actually understand what that means. Sometimes more than the people who are actually at work every day.

Nick: [00:06:40] Naturally. From an intuition standpoint.

Alex: [00:06:42] That’s right. And so I did pay a lot of attention to it. Obviously, because it’s what you have to do. And the other piece that was interesting for me was that, as a Marine logistics guy, you get paid for being effective, not efficient. And so, you don’t worry about what anything costs to make something happen, you are going to make it happen. In the commercial world, you are making decisions whether you’re even going to do something based upon whether or not you make money.

Nick: [00:07:09] Great point.

Alex: [00:07:10] And that seems really obvious, but sometimes the most obvious things in life escape you unless you think about it.

Upskilling for Going into Business

Nick: [00:07:18] What fantastic advice. I mean, we know that coming out of the military, regardless of what position people were in, they understand the mission-driven concepts. They understand work ethic. And that’s an amazing benefit to companies that are out there. And some of the hard skills they gotta brush up on, but they can do that on their own, like as you just pointed out a few resources for financial acumen. That’s really important for people getting out who want to go into business, or who even own and operate their own business.

Alex: [00:07:43] That’s really true. In the military, at least in the Marine Corps anyway, we focused a lot on self-improvement, self-study through a reading program. They have the Commandant’s Reading Program. And I’ve heard a lot of that veterans talk about having made a transition themselves when they’re about a year out and they knew they were about to transition, to shifting from reading kind of military-focused leadership-type books to stuff that was more focused on business, and I would certainly encourage that. I think that could really be helpful in making that transition.

Nick: [00:08:12] Terrific advice and sounds like a great company at Trailer Bridge with a wonderful culture. They want to hire veterans, which is fantastic, particularly in Northeast Florida with so many active-duty military transitioning out to veteran status every year. How can people find out more about Trailer Bridge?

Alex: [00:08:27] Go to our website. That’s probably the best place, the best thing to do is to look at our website, and through there you can see what opportunities we have. And you could also reach out even if we don’t have opportunities. And I’ve talked with our HR team and our recruiters and they are looking for veterans. As a matter of fact, they came to me to say, “Hey, what can we do that to encourage more veterans to come to Trailer Bridge?”

Nick: [00:08:50] Awesome! Alex Vohr, thank you so much for being on our show, “From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite.” We really appreciate the advice that you were imparting on veterans.

Alex: [00:08:56] I appreciate the opportunity. It’s great to think about these things and if we can help veterans, that’s awesome.

Nick: [00:09:02] Absolutely. Thank you.

Alex: [00:09:03] Thanks.

Nick: [00:09:04] Thanks for joining us on “From the Sea Suite to the C-Suite”. Again, this is a show sponsored by The Fire Watch. There is a role for everyone to play in ending veteran suicide in Northeast Florida. Visit thefirewatch.org. click on “Being a Watch Stander,” and learn how you can help. Together, we can end veteran suicide. Thank you.

Want to learn more?

Five Month Supply of Hay Delivered to Puerto Rico’s Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc. – TBCares

When our customers in Puerto Rico need to keep supplies moving to and from mainland USA, we make it happen. So when Kelley Stobie, co-founder and CFO of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare (CTA) reached out with a special request, we knew we could find a way to help.

Kelley’s not-for-profit organization rescues and rehomes thoroughbred racehorses, returning them to health and finding them safe, peaceful adoptive homes. As you can imagine, funding this important operation is an ongoing challenge. Kelley recently secured funding for a load of hay but had to find a way to get it to Puerto Rico.

This month, Trailer Bridge donated a 53′ container and waived all shipping costs for our equine friends at the award-winning Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc. rehabilitation and aftercare program.

Kelley explains, “This donation from Trailer Bridge is incredibly valuable for our business. It’s going to give us about 5 months of hay, so I won’t have to struggle to find 5 bales here and 10 bales there.” says Kelley, “With Trailer Bridge donating the transport and the $3,000 grant we received from After the Finish Line toward the cost of the hay… it’s amazing. Otherwise, we just can’t afford to do it.”

Rehabilitating racehorses on the island of Puerto Rico

Preparing horses for a new home (rehoming) is time-consuming and resource-intensive. Kelley’s organization retrains and rehabilitates thoroughbreds when they end up injured or facing retirement in Puerto Rico. CTA manages their veterinary care, coordinates funding to support their rehabilitation, secures their new home, and then ensures they make it to that final destination safely.

“We do a lot of groundwork because many of them have been abused, so we need to teach them not to be afraid. Once they’re more chilled, we’ll begin riding them—no jumping, just flatwork,” Kelley says.

It takes a lot of love and hard work. And as CTA is the only thoroughbred aftercare program on the island, they are often overloaded with horses from the nearby Hipódromo Camarero, Puerto Rico’s only flat racing track.

“The farm is at my house, and it’s a 24/7 job. Many horses come to us so sad and broken, and they need time to learn how to be a horse again,” Kellie says. “Our clock is ticking with some of them, because we cannot keep them forever. We can only take on 20 horses at a time, so we need to move the horses out as quickly as possible.” Kelley says.

She added that it takes about one year to rehabilitate a racehorse.

“This donation from Trailer Bridge is incredibly valuable for our business. It’s going to give us about 5 months of hay, so I won’t have to struggle to find 5 bales here and 10 bales there.” says Kelley, “With Trailer Bridge donating the transport and the $3,000 grant we received toward the cost of the hay... it’s amazing. Otherwise, we just can’t afford to do it.”

CTA’s facilities are small – Kelley and her husband own five acres of land and rent a similarly-sized parcel they’ve fenced in. The quality of pasture available in Puerto Rico just isn’t there, though.

“Unfortunately, the grass and hay are of poor quality in Puerto Rico,” Kelley explains. “It’s not like the grass in Kentucky, so we cannot rely on it as a food source. Importing feed is just far too expensive.”

Shipping hay from the mainland is something CTA always wanted to do, given that it would enable Kelley to bring in larger quantities and build a bit of security into her rescue’s food supply. However, the cost to ship the feed to Puerto Rico is simply out of reach for this small nonprofit organization.

Despite these challenges, what Kelley and Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare have been able to do is nothing short of incredible.

Hurricane Maria and the life-saving work of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare

In 2017, Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on the island of Puerto Rico, and the island’s horses did not escape the devastation. Maria swept ashore as a Category 4 hurricane and demolished the infrastructure at the Camarero racetrack, leaving all 800 thoroughbred racehorses at the facility exposed to the elements, or worse—trapped in the wreckage. The entire roof was shorn away and it was near-impossible for owners to access their stables and tend their injured horses.

In the first minutes of this video, you’ll see the extent of the crisis at Camarero:

Keep watching, though—Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare leapt to the rescue. Despite the obvious danger and the fact that she had sadly just lost her mother, Kelley went to work fighting her way through debris and breaking locks to get fresh water to the horses. Her CTA co-founder, Shelley Gagnon-Blodgett, immediately launched an awareness campaign to rally assistance from the industry and coordinated relief flights of feed and much-needed veterinary supplies from the mainland.

“The whole island was in such chaos; people couldn’t even get to the racetrack to help their horses. We found horses three and four days later, still alive that hadn’t been fed and had only drunk rainwater or from puddles on the floor,” Kelley recalls.

As a result of CTA’s bravery and commitment to the welfare of racehorses, Kelley and Shelley earned the prestigious Eclipse Award and for the first time, this prize was presented to an aftercare facility. The CTA team has also been awarded the Founders Award from the Classic Legacy Thoroughbred Aftercare in Sarasota, Florida.

Leading with love: giving new life to thoroughbreds, post-racing career

Kelley’s love for horses runs deep and prior to founding CTA, she had her first experience rehabilitating horses injured by a hurricane. In 1995, she was working on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten when Hurricane Luis struck.

Rescued racehorses at Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare enjoying hay shipped by Trailer Bridge from mainland USA

 

“We needed medical supplies for our horses, so I got in touch with someone in Puerto Rico to help out. Through that experience, I met a couple who ran a training centre for thoroughbred horses where they took them off the track to retrain and sell them as jumpers. I accepted a job with them in 1996, and helped them start the ‘Save the Horses’ aftercare program. I ran that program for them initially, but about eight years ago I saw that their program had become inactive,” Kelley says. She adds that she realized a lot of horses were being euthanized at the track.

And so in November 2016, Kelley and Shelley incorporated as Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare and became accredited with the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance in Kentucky (2017).

Today, injured horses receive a full health evaluation of their condition by Dr. Ricardo Loinaz and/or Dr. Randi Armand, two veterinarians Kelley credits as major contributors to the ongoing success of her program. “They do all of our vet evaluations for free at the racetrack including x-rays and scopes. They provide all medications at cost and give us a substantial discount when they have to come to the farm,” she says.

Some horses require stall rest, while others can be hand-walked or go directly into training. Training often involves walking and socializing with one of the older horses.

With limited space at the farm, CTA looks at two main options to find new homes for the thoroughbreds. When a horse arrives at their farm, they contact the original breeder or a previous contact to ask if they can provide residence or funding to support the horse. The second option is to request assistance from another TAA-accredited aftercare association or find private agencies.

According to Stobie’s interview in Untacked Equestrian magazine’s September 2020 issue, “80% of the time, breeders are very responsive, they can’t give them a home, but they can fund a trip home, or help find a solution.”

The logistics of thoroughbred aftercare—and making it happen

Aside from the expense of bringing supplies to the island, Kelley notes that trying to rehome horses to locations outside of Puerto Rico can be a logistical nightmare. In a previous interview with Thoroughbred Daily News, she estimated the cost of shipping a horse to the mainland at a minimum of $3,294.

Kelley used to work as a shipping agent, so she already knows quite a bit about the maritime business. She used Trailer Bridge’s services in prior roles when they used to have supplies shipped in from Canada.

“They’ve always been very professional. Sometimes in big companies, it’s really hard to get anyone on the phone, but Trailer Bridge is great. They are so responsive, and their customer service is just great. Getting merchandise cleared through them is always quick and easy,” said Stobie.

Even so, it was a CTA board member’s suggestion that she reach out to Trailer Bridge and ask for a discount that inspired her to get in touch.

Ann Jones, Director of Customer Experience here at Trailer Bridge, says, “As soon as I heard her request, I just knew we had to help. The work Kelley and her team are doing is so critical, and Puerto Rico is an incredibly important part of our community.”

Ann reached out to CEO Mitch Luciano to see if they could discount the service. “Yes! Why not?” he said—and gave the go-ahead for his team to not only discount but to provide the shipping free of charge.

Ann Jones, Director of Customer Experience here at Trailer Bridge, says, “As soon as I heard her request, I just knew we had to help. The work Kelley and her team are doing is so critical, and Puerto Rico is an incredibly important part of our community.”

And with that, the decision was made and wheels set in motion to get this 53’ shipping container of essential supplies and five months worth of food to the Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare facility in Puerto Rico.

“We got two pallets of Timothy pellets, two wheelbarrows and some pitchforks… it came to about $8,000 and that’s just a lot of money for us,” Kelley says. “We are incredibly thankful.”

The future of Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare and how you can get involved

CTA is a federally approved 501c3 registered nonprofit, accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA). The organization relies on grants and donations to survive. Private and corporate donations and the generous veterinary staff help with free evaluations, X-rays, scopes, and medications at cost. Every bit helps to support the horses.

Kelley hopes that with more funding, CTA can create a small sanctuary for those horses that can’t be rehomed to live out their lives in comfort. Her goal, she says, is to make sure that every horse has a happy retirement. And you can help.

There are a few different ways you can support the important work Kelley and her CTA team are doing in Puerto Rico:

Keep reading…

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Digital Freight Brokerages & Technology in Transportation: Eric Masotti on FreightWaves’ What the Truck?!? [AUDIO]

What are the pros and cons of digital freight brokerage, and how can technology be used to enhance the shipping customer’s experience?

Eric Masotti, our Vice President of Logistics here at Trailer Bridge, joined Dooner and The Dude on What the Truck?!? this week to chat about trends in transportation logistics and shipping technology—specifically, the impact of VC-backed digital freight brokerages on the market and how technology can best be used for more successful loads across the supply chain.

Check out the entire What the Truck?!? episode above, or roll ahead to 09:40 to catch Eric’s segment with Dooner & The Dude on FreightWaves radio. Here’s a small excerpt, in case you missed it:

Eric Masotti: “I think some of this is a solution for a problem that doesn’t quite exist. In our space—in transportation and 3PL—and here at Trailer Bridge, we have ocean business, we have trucking/drayage group, and we have a logistics brokerage, as well. In terms of serving clients, we service them with year-long pricing, or sometimes two-year-long pricing with annual increases, and then also there is spot pricing.

Customers have advantages and disadvantages with all of those choices, including reliability of the pricing structure (as long as the provider is willing to uphold that pricing, and the shipper has to uphold that shipping volume, too, not giving the freight to other providers).

In terms of the set pricing margin and fluctuating with the current costs, it’s really just a spot solution. The only difference is, they’re trying to market it where instead of using multiple providers on the spot, it’s only one provider. If you can market that correctly, that’s a great opportunity for that business (or any business).”

Tim Dooner: “Yeah Eric, that’s a solid point. It comes down to when you’re talking about markup or set markup on spot… on the same lane, there’s not a set spot market price, right? Whoever is willing to go the lowest or whoever is willing to pay the highest is going to set the spot, and it can fluctuate throughout the day and from carrier to carrier, correct?”

Eric Masotti: “Exactly! When you think about all of the original zips and destination zips and you multiply those together with all of the different possibilities of lanes… think about how many millions of origins and destinations there could be, and then to your point, the market sets the price in terms of supply and demand and finding a balance.

But with that said, if a company really wants to get aggressive, they can go under market. I mean, that’s how many transportation providers have gotten their share of business. It’s not been some technology that’s given them an opportunity to get more freight than a competitor. They’ve priced under market in an effort to get more scale and get more relationships. And at some point, they’ve turned those into a profitable business.”

Digital Isn’t a New Concept in Transportation Logistics

Tim Dooner: “You know there’s been a few different companies arguing about this online. We’re not going to name names here, but let’s define this a little bit. When I’ve been listening to some of these arguments, it seems that when you talk about digital freight brokerage, what a lot of people are actually complaining about are venture or capital-backed companies that are using tech and also picking up market share maybe at a loss using that money, versus human brokers.

Most brokers now have some sort of digital component. Digital freight brokers still have humans on the back end, but what’s your take on that argument between the digital freight broker and the traditional freight broker?”

Eric Masotti: “You’re right. At least with the top tier people on the freight brokerage space, technology is hugely involved. At Trailer Bridge, we’re in the process of transitioning from multiple CMSs for different divisions to one CMS, to give us better access to our account managers in terms of the equipment that we own, and also to our partner carriers so we can leverage those two together to provide the best solution for the client.

But in that space, our account manager who is working with the customer—it’s going to give him carrier history, lane history, pricing history… And so tons of technology is coming to our expert, our account manager. We just think that person provides so much importance.

You know, one of the things that make our space a lot different than say, passenger traffic, is that if you’re going to catch an Uber or a Lyft, you can put in the type of car you want, where you’re at, and how many people—and that’s really all the variables involved.

Well in our business, there are loading times, appointment times, product types (some drivers don’t like shipping different types of product), weight… I mean, I could go on with a list of 30 or 40 different variables. Those make it very complicated, which doesn’t mean that technology can’t help you solve it but a human needs to be there working with the customer. They understand their preferences.

At the end of the day, if you grab an Uber but it cancels out on you, that works in passenger traffic. But if you’re shipping for FEMA doing supplies and somehow the load doesn’t match up so it just falls off—that’s not an acceptable solution. Someone has to be there ready and able to provide that solution for the client if they’re going to be successful.”

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How Four Supply Chain Trends Are Shaping Puerto Rico’s Future

by John Wroby, Chief Operating Officer

This article originally appeared in JOC.com

Time and time again, Puerto Rico has proven its resilience following natural disasters, economic upset, political turmoil, and more. How the island will fare post-pandemic and how we can support its recovery were hot topics at two recent discussions I was privileged to participate in.

In one, Jacksonville Port Authority (JAXPORT), the number one U.S. port for commercial trade with Puerto Rico, hosted a roundtable between its leadership, industry delegates like myself, and US Department of Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia in which we discussed reopening the economy and the supply chain between Puerto Rico and mainland USA.

The second roundtable discussion was an informative talk with U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Peter J. Brown, hosted by the Coast Guard Sector Jacksonville. As President Trump’s Special Representative for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery efforts, Admiral Brown coordinates the United States Government’s efforts to rebuild Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

In both talks, it was clear that an issue as complex and wide-ranging as the Coronavirus pandemic will take government and industry working together to solve. Beginning from a shared place of desire to strengthen Puerto Rico’s supply chain and economy for the future, how can we work together to support those ends? Let’s consider four main issues shaping the future for Puerto Rico, and how upcoming legislation and stimulus efforts may help support stronger transportation, manufacturing, and the economy as a whole.

Labor Supply and Getting the Transportation Industry Back to Work

Employers are finding that stevedores (dockworkers) who were laid off or temporarily furloughed may not want to come back right away. It is understandable that as government workers were forced to suddenly adapt to lockdown and remote work, tiered unemployment benefits would likely have required too much administration. The initial disbursements were the same for all workers.

At this stage, however, the question becomes: How do we get stevedores and other supply chain workers to return when they are receiving more or only slightly less than their unemployment benefits? Many have concerns about pandemic safety and will take reduced pay as a method of limiting potential exposure to Coronavirus.

Returning to work could be incentivized by tiered unemployment assistance payments or other back-to-work supports. The inclusion of these measures in any stimulus bills passed will almost certainly support transportation companies doing business in Puerto Rico, as well as nationwide.

Reshoring Manufacturing back to the United States

COVID-19 highlighted significant disadvantages of offshoring manufacturing to Asian markets as we have experienced supply shortages of much-needed PPE throughout this crisis. The need to shorten the supply chain for many items, particularly food and essential medical supplies, has become crystal clear.

Puerto Rico already produces 10% of the pharmaceuticals made in the U.S., more than any other single location. If the goal of any piece of incoming legislation is to increase domestic pharmaceutical production to reduce dependence on Chinese manufacturing, Puerto Rico stands to gain immensely. Previous tax breaks to corporations as a result of Section 936, an internal revenue service tax code, enabled short-term job gains and economic growth for some time in Puerto Rico. However, Section 936 failed to provide long-term fiscal stability and there is therefore not much appetite for reviving it.

Could there be legislation introduced in Phase Four stimulus efforts that would benefit manufacturing in Puerto Rico? If so, it would benefit the United States as a whole by helping to achieve that goal of a tighter supply chain for critical goods.

The Release of FEMA and HUD Relief Funds

Speeding up the disbursement of outstanding FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) and HUD (The Department of Housing and Urban Development) disaster relief funding is critical in a post-COVID Puerto Rico. Some funds are on hold as part of a third-party review process and will be released when Puerto Rico meets a series of conditions.

Working to make the R3 Program more expedient and successful must be a priority as we look to reshore manufacturing. Employees need safe, secure, affordable housing and access to schools, hospitals, and other services if they are to succeed in their roles at work.

The government could help facilitate the fund payments, which will help Puerto Rico rebuild and put it in a position to host more manufacturing for the USA.

Proactive U.S. Military Presence and Planning

Historically, the U.S. Army has had a limited presence on the island. Now, the military wants to be able to monitor and respond more quickly to issues and is working to increase the stock of key supplies there. In addition to the humanitarian importance of emergency relief, shifting away from just-in-time inventory offers substantial cost savings as Puerto Rico’s residents and businesses won’t be as vulnerable to surge pricing during emergencies.

In our roundtable meeting, we learned that FEMA has positioned 6-7X more hurricane supplies on the island than in 2017 before Hurricane Maria. Continuing in this vein supports Puerto Rico’s people and industry in this next phase of its recovery and economic growth and, as we’ve discussed, builds security into the North American PPE supply chain.

Coordination between our government, manufacturing and transportation industry stakeholders is needed now more than ever, as Puerto Rico’s importance to the U.S. supply chain becomes clearer. We have an opportunity to strengthen our economic position and support future pandemic and natural disaster recovery efforts by standing together for a stronger Puerto Rico. In the coming weeks and months, stimulus and legislative decisions must take this into account.

About the Author

John Wroby, Chief Operating Officer at Trailer Bridge, Inc., is a results-driven leader
overseeing the critical functions of logistics, customer service, and brokerage
operations. Starting with Trailer Bridge in 2012, John advanced quickly from Director of
Brokerage Operations to Vice President of Logistics, to his current COO role in 2018.
His commitment to operational excellence has supported Trailer Bridge in receiving
accolades as #1 Ocean Carrier in the Quest for Quality Awards, an Inc
Magazine ‘Best Workplace in America’, and the #1 Place to Work in
Jacksonville.

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Keeping Customers And Employees Engaged In Times Of Crisis

This article originally appeared in Forbes.com

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted a lot of glaring company culture issues for many. How can you pivot and recover quickly if your employees and customers have shut down and are disengaged?

Times of crisis are when we rely on our people — and they rely on us — the most. Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer special report on the coronavirus shows that employees see company communications as a trusted source of information. In fact, 54% of respondents trust their CEO to share truthful information about the coronavirus. That’s more than traditional news media (50%), government officials (48%) and journalists (43%).

If you aren’t communicating helpful, timely information to your team members and customers, they are left to speculate about what is going on and fill that void with other sources. When employees are afraid they’re about to lose their job or suddenly uncertain about where your company is headed, they naturally disengage and are forced into survival mode.

When answers to their questions aren’t forthcoming from business leaders, employees and customers are more susceptible to whatever information (or misinformation) they can find. For example, if your team members are seeing layoffs and cutbacks in other companies and you aren’t openly sharing your plan to avoid that, it’s only natural they’ll fear that these things are coming to your company soon.

A void of accurate information can manifest into rumors, suspicion and gossip. Employees want to be kept in the loop — to feel that they matter enough to be part of the big picture.

Now more than ever, as this crisis continues impacting businesses and supply chains in myriad ways, frequent and meaningful check-ins with your employees and customers are a must. Here’s how to be a calming, reassuring force for your people:

Five Keys To More Impactful Internal And External Communications

Applying these five fundamentals makes a world of difference in keeping your employees and customers informed and engaged. In fact, it can be helpful to not only plan your updates and emails around these principles but also to run through this checklist before you hit send on any communication.

1. Reliability

Keep your regular cadence of communications. If you’ve maintained a weekly customer email newsletter and two blogs a week until the crisis hit, don’t cut back. My team has seen a direct correlation between the number of email marketing campaigns and social media posts and the number of requests for quotes each month throughout the pandemic. Frequent communication keeps you top of mind with your customers and readers.

Edelman’s special report also found that 54% of U.S. employees are looking for updates about the virus at least once a day directly from their employers. There will be times you’ll need more information and facts before you can communicate; if so, let your staff and customers know when you will follow up with them. Post your updates to an intranet or internal social channel so employees can read and follow up on their own time.

2. Authenticity

Speak like a human being, and be real. You can run a business with professionalism, but don’t take yourself too seriously. When you speak with emotion and empathy, you earn employees’ respect and trust.

Customers want to feel supported by the brands with whom they do business, too. In fact, 83% of respondents want brands to issue public statements communicating empathy and support for those affected by the pandemic, according to Edelman.

3. Reassurance

Everyone digests information in different ways, especially in stressful situations. Always reinforce essential details multiple times to ensure important points are heard and understood. Your business has the power to inform and calm, and sharing messages is reassuring to your team.

Let employees know what you’re doing to prevent layoffs. Maybe this is the time to invest in building your people up. In fact, my company launched an upskilling program in the middle of the pandemic. It gave us a way to build our employees up and keep them on the job, and that investment in people is so key to building the business, too. When you love and support your employees, you’ll be amazed at the love and kindness they have in their reserves for your customers.

4. Accountability

Take ownership of your actions, even when there are mistakes or less-than-ideal outcomes. It’s not at all reassuring to employees or customers to hear a business leader blaming all kinds of external factors for what’s happening inside the company.

Be honest about the struggles you’re facing in your decision-making and open about the actions you’re taking to problem-solve. All parties will respect and understand your decisions. And if things go sideways, they’ll know exactly how hard you tried to achieve a better outcome.

5. Trust

Your responsibility is to listen, communicate and, most importantly, do. Engaging communications aren’t announcements; they’re two-way conversations. You have to be open to hearing what staff and customers are telling you, even if it contradicts your preconceived beliefs. You have to be ready to consider new information and back up your listening with action.

This is so key to building trust that I just can’t state the importance of it enough. Make your employees and customers a part of your decision-making process, and get them invested in your shared success. You can do this with an open-door policy, phone or videoconferences, and town hall-style meetings to foster two-way conversations. The only way to build trust is by proving every single day, in every interaction, that you’re worthy of that trust.

Communication isn’t a soft skill. It’s a core competency that is integral to your company’s culture. When the chips are down, engaging your employees and customers isn’t simply a best practice. It just might be the key to your continued growth and success. Act as though your business depends on it — it very well might.

About the Author

Mitch Luciano, a 20+ year logistics industry veteran and ‘Ultimate CEO Award’ winner, led transportation services brand Trailer Bridge Inc. from bankruptcy to one of the best privately-held companies to work for in America. Under his leadership, Trailer Bridge has been awarded #1 Ocean Carrier in the Quest for Quality Awards by Logistics Management and has been recognized as one of the Best Workplaces in America by Inc Magazine and as the #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville. Mitch has proven the impact of company culture on the bottom-line and is an advocate for employee development and leading with love.

 

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How a Little Empathy Drives Big Results Across the Supply Chain

This article was originally published in Manufacturing Today.

Transportation costs are one of the top challenges decision-makers face, with last-mile delivery driving the greatest costs in the entire supply chain. Fuel costs, government regulatory updates, labor issues, cross-departmental decision-making and an economy constantly in flux can wreak havoc on even the most careful executive’s transportation budget.

Today, close to 56% of global companies use automation to some degree and can realistically expect to achieve up to 30% increased production by deploying automation in the manufacturing process. Is automation the answer to budgeting woes, as well?

I’d argue that while analytics and predictive budgeting software can certainly drive more informed decision-making, it is the people of logistics who power successful transactions and cost savings.

In fact, injecting the process with empathy and love is far more effective at driving precision and predictability in manufacturing budgets.

(Did he just say all we need is love? Sort of. Stay with me.)

Where in the supply chain does automation have the greatest impact?

Automation certainly has its place in manufacturing, where it is being used to improve efficiency while increasing both productivity and yield. US manufacturers face a looming skilled labor shortage, as 22% of skilled workers—some 2.7 million of them—are set to retire by 2025. Automating repetitive processes and incorporating robotics can ease some of that pressure and free skilled workers for more complex, creative tasks.

There are growing opportunities for automation across the full global supply chain, from raw materials management, to picking and packing, to purchase order management payments and invoicing, revenue and goal tracking, GPS-enabled package tracking at the consumer level and more.

In budgeting, though, there are so many logistical variables stressing the process that manufacturers truly benefit from the creativity, experience and voice of the people behind the process. The transportation budget is affected by the decisions of other teams; in fact, this is often where it falls apart.

Misguided attempts to reduce costs by cutting frontline staff can actually have an oversized impact on service and not save that much money. Cutting costs can mean cutting revenue. Operational decisions can add both time and money to the supply chain. Consider purchasing a widget from a vendor offering a lower per-unit price than your incumbent, but not factoring in the additional transportation costs incurred because of the greater distance between the supplier and facility.

This is where the right technology platform can help, by affording decision-makers that high-level view of their supply chain as a whole. With that enhanced understanding of each of the moving pieces, you can begin to explore the challenges, pain points, and needs of each person in the supply chain.

And this is where the people of logistics can seriously, positively impact your budgeting and overall transportation costs.

Shifting from a mindset of replacing human labor to augmenting people’s performance

Inboundlogistics.com research cites that 36% of enterprises strongly agreed they rely on their 3PL partners to drive cost reductions and business process improvements. These are the people who understand not only your needs, but those of your customers, the warehousing team, truck drivers, rail or dockyard workers, and more.

There’s no magic bullet to take the risk out of the supply chain completely. Every single day, trucks break down, economic and environmental circumstances change, and accidents happen. We cannot eliminate that risk and uncertainty from the transportation budgeting process.

What you can (and must) do is lean on the experience and insight that logistics professionals bring to each transaction. When the highway closes and your shipment can’t move, an app can’t fix that. When a shipment is cancelled and your driver is not without a shipment, the automated phone system can’t do a thing about it. It is the knowledge and motivation of the person on the other end of that call for help that can dramatically change the outcome.

At that point, when any one of 1000 things that could happen has happened, you need a person who cares and is invested to step in – to bring predictability and certainty back into the process. People matter.

You need a person who understands the impact of a failure at Point A on the person awaiting the shipment at Point B, and how that affects the outcome at Point C or D. Just as you need that high-level overview of the challenges stressing your supply chain, you need people working on your behalf who understand the pain points and motivators that will drive improvements in timeliness, safety, and success rate, as well.

Leaving emotion out of decision-making doesn’t mean removing emotion from the business entirely. Yes, we need accurate data on which to base our decisions. From that solid foundation, success comes from people who truly love what they do, caring about the outcome every step of the way.

So back to empathy and love. In today’s world of such uncertainty in our own personal lives, doesn’t your professional supply chain need to be filled with people that care about what your needs are to make your life easier? Showing genuine empathy when the unpredictable happens and simply caring always makes a difference. Love comes in many forms and your supply chain requires it.

Just as skilled workers’ performance is augmented by machinery, transportation professionals and technology work better together – one doesn’t replace the other.

About the Author

Mitch Luciano, a 20+ year logistics industry veteran and ‘Ultimate CEO Award’ winner, led transportation services brand Trailer Bridge Inc. from bankruptcy to one of the best privately-held companies to work for in America. Under his leadership, Trailer Bridge has been awarded #1 Ocean Carrier in the Quest for Quality Awards by Logistics Management and has been recognized as one of the Best Workplaces in America by Inc Magazine and as the #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville. Mitch has proven the impact of company culture on the bottom-line and is an advocate for employee development and leading with love.

 

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How to #thankatrucker for Truck Driver Appreciation Week

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week is an annual celebration of the men and women who deliver goods safely to every corner of the country, keeping roads and highways safe en route. This year, it’s happening from September 13th to 19th—and we encourage you to take part!

American truck drivers travel more than 421 billion miles and deliver nearly 70% of total U.S. freight tonnage per year, according to the American Trucking Association. In fact, trucking provides 6% of all jobs across the U.S.!

Here at Trailer Bridge, our drivers logged 6,409,905 miles last year, which is like driving the circumference of the planet over 257 times!

This year, it’s particularly important that we each take the time and make the effort to show truck drivers our love. The Coronavirus pandemic served as a stark reminder of just how critically important truck drivers are in keeping us in food, medicine, and other essential supplies.

How can you thank a trucker and show gratitude to the over 3.5 million men and women who power the industry for their commitment to keeping us safe? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Buy a trucker a meal or a hot beverage. You don’t even have to know a trucker to do this—see if you can pay in advance at your favorite coffee shop or diner for the next truck driving customer they serve!
  • Drive safely and be respectful on the road. Remember that trucks require greater stopping distance.
  • If you’re in the position to do so, keep business restrooms open for truck drivers. COVID-19 has made this difficult for business owners but trucking is an essential service, and drivers need facilities to use along their routes.
  • Give gifts that truckers can use to enhance life on the road. For example, we give our drivers water bottles, multi-use tools, t-shirts, industrial flashlights and other practical gifts during Driver Appreciation Week.
  • Taking a roadtrip? Have the kids make ‘Thank You” signs to hold up to their windows when passing trucks. Long-haul drivers may be away from their family for extended periods and these small gestures can put a smile on a trucker’s face.

Share your creative ideas for expressing gratitude on social media using the #thankatrucker hashtag.

How We Thank Our Truckers

In years past, we’ve celebrated our truck drivers with parties, awards, gifts, and our in-person thanks. This year, of course, we’re adapting to the restrictions of COVID-19. Trailer Bridge truck drivers will be picking up their gift bags at our head office in Jacksonville and this year, they’re receiving t-shirts and face masks, as well.

Stay tuned to the Trailer Bridge blog and social media this week as we announce the winners of our #thankatrucker raffles, Safety Awards, Gratitude Awards, and Driver of the Year.

We think it’s important to celebrate the hardworking professionals of the trucking industry all year-round! Each month, we recognize a top member of our driving team in our Drivers Hall of Fame. Over the last year, these honorees have included:

Truck Driver Appreciation Week - recognition for truckers at Trailer Bridge throughout the year

August 2019 – Miljan Kozul
September 2019 – Carlos Morales
October 2019 – Antonio Parker
November 2019 – Kenny McGovern
December 2019 – Ricky Bichsel
January 2020 – Kirk Nelson
February 2020 – Jason Merrill
March 2020 – Lucio Fernandez
April 2020 – Matt Martin
June 2020 – Ulysses Turner
July 2020 – Terry Fish
August 2020 – Dusty Nipper

Take a look back at our Truck Driver Appreciation event last year in Puerto Rico! This year certainly presents challenges in having a large gathering; you can expect a scaled back and socially distant celebration as we work hard to keep one another safe.

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Explore open career opportunities and learn why Trailer Bridge is an exceptional and entirely different place to work

– Check out our recent infographic, Transportation Logistics 101: How We Make It Happen

Request a quote and we’ll make it happen

Digital Freight Brokers vs Human Freight Brokers

by Eric Masotti, Vice President of Logistics

We’ve seen the benefits of automation and digital transformation in all kinds of industries; there can be cost savings, greater ability to scale, enhanced safety, increased output, and more. It’s no surprise then that we’ve seen this desire in the industry for an Uber-style app for 3PL transportation solutions. But, are fully digital freight brokers really the way of the future?

It may sound easier and more efficient on the surface. What if you could just thumb-type your load requirements into an app and book a lane? We’ve seen some versions of such a logistics app come to market, but we’ve yet to see a fully automated solution that is commercially and financially viable. 

Will we get there? I’m not sure that we will—in fact, I have yet to be convinced that we should strive for 3PL transactions in which the human element is entirely removed. Taking human interaction, intelligence, and problem-solving out of 3PL in an effort to save time and money reminds me of that old saying, “Nickel’s holding up a dollar.” People are integral to the success of each and every transaction, across the supply chain. Here’s why.

Human freight brokers are an integral part of an intelligently automated supply chain.

We use technology for all kinds of tasks including email marketing, social media, customer relationship management, data analysis, analytics, and more. Digital solutions have a huge role to play in logistics and transportation services.

So does the care and attention we provide our customers, partners, and employees.

You can’t digitize or automate that. 

Some will argue that there is an opportunity to cut 3PL costs using digital freight brokers. After all, we use both a salesperson and an account manager to monitor the supply chain daily. Couldn’t you just take them away and have an algorithm keep an eye out? 

I don’t believe so. We lean into those interactions and want our team members having productive, informative conversations with clients daily until that load is successfully delivered. Logistics is a volatile business. Weather, accidents, political decisions, labor disputes, natural disasters, human error—anything can happen to complicate a route at any stage of the game. 

The trouble with full automation is that when any of these complex, unexpected issues arises, a human then needs to intervene. When that human hasn’t been involved in the process to that point, they have a lot of catching to do before they can even begin to put those creative problem-solving skills to work.

Uncertainty requires human involvement to communicate, evaluate, navigate—and transportation logistics is rife with uncertainty.

We believe that real, skilled, experienced people who love what they do and care about the outcome of each and every load are foundational to successful 3PL transactions. People are rooted firmly in the center of our logistics processes, not tacked on at the end to triage and troubleshoot after things have already gone sideways. 

Every shipment requires logistics reps to manage several internal factors, including:

  • Equipment type
  • How many miles the driver is going to drive
  • Weight restrictions
  • Loading and unloading methodologies
  • Pickup and delivery times
  • Drivers willingness to move product type or travel to destination

Each of these factors has at least 5-7 details to manage within them, which quickly adds up to hundreds of technicalities that could impact the success of a shipment. As if that isn’t enough, there are all of those external factors of weather, traffic, etc. that can impact the outcome, as well.  

Digital technology should facilitate freight broker roles, not replace them.

At Trailer Bridge, we want technology to empower our employees—not to replace them but to augment their performance and help them do their jobs better

The people who work on each transaction should have access to the most effective digital solutions, so they can quickly get the information they need to solve those inevitable challenges quickly. 

Expertise is essential and is actually preferred to specialization. We ensure our employees are involved in multiple stages of each transaction, not a single task. Specialization loses its perspective on the bigger picture and, instead, works silo to silo. Expertise still allows each employee to be involved in multiple aspects of the transaction to understand and impact the entire spectrum of operational and sales responsibilities.  

Human capital is what makes our business. As my colleague Indie Bollman, VP of Organizational Development, says in her column The Best Place to Work is the Best Place to do Business, “We tend to think of logistics in terms of the complexity of operations, and it’s true that facilities and supplies are an important part of the equation. But more importantly, you have people driving the success of every single transportation logistics transaction, every step of the way.” 

Technology still enables us to simplify complexities for our customers. It’s just not at the expense of the success of the transaction. Our teams are on top of the massive amount of information and data that needs to be considered, and they are aided by technology in making the best decisions for our customers. 

It takes people to drive success in 3PL. This is why we focus so intensely on creating the best company culture, on remaining an Inc. Best Workplace, on being the best place to work in Jacksonville. It’s no coincidence; our experienced, passionate people are the reason Trailer Bridge was named the #1 Ocean Carrier in the Logistics Management Quest for Quality awards. It’s a straight line from employee experience to customer experience.

There’s just no app for that.

About the Author

Eric Masotti, Vice President of Logistics, manages Trailer Bridge’s fast-growing domestic full-service logistics division and ongoing expansion. Since earning his BS in Business Administration from UNC Chapel Hill and his MBA from the University of Florida, Eric has logged more than 15 years of experience in logistics and freight.

 

Learn More:

Indie Bollman Recognized as Woman of Influence

It is with tremendous pride that Trailer Bridge announces that our very own Indie Bollman, Vice President of Organizational Development, has been honored with the “2020 Women of Influence” award by the Jacksonville Business Journal.

For the past 17 years, the Jacksonville Business Journal has sought to honor extraordinary women with the Women of Influence award. This award recognizes some of the women whose leadership has helped their companies grow, has shaped the next generation and has provided a model for the community.  This honor is well-deserved as Indie has been so critical in helping shape the company culture of  Trailer Bridge, who we are and where we are headed beyond 2020.

Congratulations, Indie. #TBnation

Edited to add: Jacksonville Business Journal shared a video interview with Indie available to subscribers only. Here are a few highlights.

Indie Bollman, Trailer VP of Organizational Development and Woman of Influence

“A piece of advice I’d offer to the next generation of leaders is to remember that no matter where you are in an organization, you have the power to influence the organization and the people around you.

You don’t have to be in charge of the organization, you don’t have to own a big foundation. You don’t have to be wealthy; you don’t have to have any of the things that we often think are needed or how we define influence.

What I would tell them is right where you are right now, you have the power to influence people for good. And it’s about them. It’s not about you, but you have that ability right now starting today for all women. I think we all have that ability to influence.

I accept this incredible honor for all the women of all positions and all walks of life. The women who show up every day for the people around them. In my book that’s the real influence, and we thank you and I accept this honor for you.”

Indie Bollman, VP of Organizational Development, Trailer Bridge Inc.

Transportation Logistics 101: How We Make It Happen [Infographic]

The North American transportation logistics market is massive—in fact, it was valued at over $1 trillion in 2019. According to the US Department of Transportation, over $95 billion in transborder freight moves between Canada, the United States, and Mexico by truck, rail, sea, or air each month.

How do we make it happen? In this new infographic, the transportation logistics experts here at Trailer Bridge share interesting facts, information, and tips to help you choose the right logistics partner and successfully move your freight from Point A to B. Check it out, and don’t miss the highlights below the graphic.

(Want to share this resource with your colleagues? Download the interactive PDF here.)

 

Transportation Logistics 101 infographic

How does freight move across North America?

It takes a variety of different vessels and vehicles to deliver goods across our vast network of roads, waterways, islands, and cities, including:

  • Liquid or refrigerated trucks
  • Ground expedited trucks for express delivery
  • Last-Mile delivery; shipped to a destination, direct-to-customer
  • LTL: Less-than-truckload shipments
  • FTL: Full truckload shipments
  • Rail or Intermodal (using two modes of transport)
  • Ocean shipping
  • Cargo planes

In North America, our transportation logistics industry is more reliant on trucks than any other vehicle or vessel. Trucks hauled as much as 10.8 billion tons around the USA in 2017, equating to about 30 lbs. of goods for every American man, woman, and child. All of those truck shipments are essential for our economy, generating $700 billion in revenues and accounting for 6% of all full-time jobs in the United States.

Ocean shipping is the third-largest mode of transport, shipping $76 billion worth of goods each year. Some of these goods head to Puerto Rico, where 90% of all containers come from mainland U.S. When moving freight by ocean carrier, container size matters—shipping in 53’ ocean containers gives you 37% more space and delivers:

  • a lower per-unit shipment cost for customers,
  • shorter delivery times,
  • and a reduced overall supply chain footprint.

Intermodal transport shipping, which uses more than one vessel or vehicle, is an essential aspect of moving goods and often includes railways. Together with trucks and maritime shippers, freight railroads carry nearly 57 tons of freight per American each year.

How to choose a logistics provider

These eight key questions can help you choose a logistics provider that best meets your shipping needs. As you are evaluating your options, be sure to ask:

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. Is your business asset-based?
  3. What are your core services?
  4. Is your business growing, expanding, or contracting?
  5. Do you service my entire route?
  6. Do you support EDI (Electronic Data Interchange)?
  7. How are you different from the competition?
  8. Who is my point of contact, and how will we communicate?

We provide customers coast-to-coast coverage throughout North America (including Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the US Virgin Islands) via ocean shipping, ground transportation, intermodal and rail.

What’s more, Trailer Bridge customers can count on the consistently excellent service we provide. As an Inc. Best Workplace for 2020, the #1 Place to Work in Jacksonville and the #1 Voted Ocean Carrier in the Quest for Quality Awards by Logistics Management, we’re 100% committed to the enhanced value that exceptional teamwork, culture, and service provides our customers.

Get a free quote now or call the logistics experts at Trailer Bridge at 800.727.3859 to find out how we can make it happen for you.

5 Top Logistics Expert Takeaways from FreightWaves 3PL Summit

While it would certainly have been amazing to get together with colleagues and peers to network and learn, FreightWaves did an incredible job with its 3PL Summit as a virtual event. From the live Q&A with keynote speaker Brad Jacobs, CEO of XPO Logistics, through a series of informative and engaging fireside chats, to the entertaining ‘Great Debate,’ the FreightWaves 3PL Summit was a can’t-miss event.

If you did happen to miss it, fear not—you can catch the replays here.

In this post, we share five insightful excerpts from talks by:

  • Keynote speaker Brad Jacobs, CEO of XPO Logistics
  • Eric McGee, Executive Vice-President of Highway Services with J.B. Hunt
  • Craig Fuller, founder and CEO of FreightWaves
  • Robert Candena, CEO of Lean Staffing
  • Author and educator Jordan Belfort, ‘The Real Wolf of Wall Street’

See what logistics industry experts had to share on innovation and automation, predictions for the transportation market, employee engagement and company culture during the pandemic, and more.

Brad Jacobs on Innovation in Logistics and the Warehouse of the Future

“I wouldn’t say it’s a specific ‘light going off’ innovation, but the evolution of innovation in automation inside the warehouse very much impresses me because it improves safety, profit, and employee satisfaction. Customers love it because we can give a better service for a lower price, and it’s a win-win because we can make a higher margin. I believe that the innovation in the warehouse is at the forefront of tangible, concrete innovations going on in the logistics industry.”

FreightWaves 3PL Summit keynote speaker Brad Jacobs on improving the supply chain with innovation and automation in the warehouse.

“We have a partnership with one of our partners in Europe, Nestle, and we’ve developed with them the warehouse of the future. And by that I mean, every single part of automation and technological innovation inside the warehouse, we’ve met with all of those OEMs and they continue to pitch to us and we evaluate all of the different products. We’ve selected the ones that we think are the most advanced and the ones we think have the highest chance of succeeding and continuing to evolve in the future. We’re providing the software that links them all together through the WMx.

That was going to go live in July, here, but due to the pandemic it’s a few months behind schedule. I can’t wait until that opens. It’s going to be a showcase for the whole industry and I can’t wait to share the proprietary technology that we have there with our other warehouses around the globe and also, to the extent it makes sense, to open source it.”

Brad Jacobs, CEO of XPO Logistics and FreightWaves 3PL Summit Keynote Speaker

Eric McGee Talks Technology-Enhanced Logistics Efficiency

“Creating the most efficient transportation network in North America means having the right shipment for the right carrier. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a shipment that J.B. Hunt found and it doesn’t necessarily need to be a J.B. Hunt truck.

If you’re a 3PL today, you’re either investing in technology understanding that the industry is changing and you’re disrupting yourself, or you’re doing business in a traditional manner. The traditional way would have about two-thirds of your people calling on trucks. I challenge you to ask yourself, are you executing for your customers in the most efficient manner?

Eric McGee, Executive Vice-President of Highway Services with J.B. Hunt, in WavesTalk: Unlocking Tech-Enabled Efficiencies in 3PL

Craig Fuller on Whether Current Transportation Trends Can Hold

“If you look at normal seasonal patterns, what you would expect this time of year is that the OTVI (Outbound Tender Volume Index) would dip. It did not dip. It’s continued to accelerate, and that acceleration is going to continue.”

An injection of federal stimulus funding will keep OTV higher and the transportation and logistics industry stronger than seasonal norms, according to FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller.

“The Federal Reserve, combined with Congress, has put so much money into the economy that what we’re seeing is actually $5 trillion of stimulus into our economy, right there.

In terms of the market, we are seeing unprecedented volume. This is not only a black swan effect that we saw back in March, but also what we’re seeing now. It’s unprecedented. This is completely different from anything we’ve seen and it’s not going to revert back to seasonal trends. We’re seeing stimulus dollars and what we’re going to see is other demand return to the market.

Have you tried to buy lawn furniture or BBQs? You can’t get it right now because of all the demand out there. People simply are buying a lot of product and it’s propped up by the federal government.”

Craig Fuller, founder and CEO of FreightWaves, in The Great Debate with Zach Strickland

Robert Cadena on Employee Engagement and Remote Work Culture

“With COVID, there’s been a big focus on making sure our employees stay safe. We have about 1,600 employees working from home and we’ve been able to keep our culture. Our culture is our most amazing feature; it’s what we do together. We used to have volleyball tournaments but a lot of things that we did face-to-face… we’re now doing gaming tournaments and PlayStation tournaments to get everybody engaged. We try to keep it light…

We put our employees ahead of anybody else… Our HR and recruiting team and everyone around that has made sure that mental health supports are there. We have psychologists on standby to make sure we can tend to whatever needs they have.

We’ve been sending gifts and chocolate and things to their houses, just letting them know that look, you’re part of a bigger thing and even though you’re working from home, you are part of this great organization that we’re growing day-to-day.

So we want to make sure that they know that all of this will pass and the hardest part is just keeping ahead of all that is going on.”

Robert Cadena, CEO of Lean Staffing, in Put That Coffee Down Presented by Lean Staffing

Jordan Belfort on Overcoming Uncertainty in Sales Calls

Rather than saying, ‘Hey listen, I don’t know you, buddy… I’m not sure,’ they’ll say, ‘Oh, sounds good. Let me think about it.’ They throw that out there as a smokescreen for uncertainty.

The mistake that most salespeople make—especially in logistics, where it happens all the time—is they’ll try to somehow overcome the objection ‘Let me think about it,’ as if the person really has to think about it.

In fact, what the person is really saying is, ‘I want to think about it because I’m not certain enough yet. I don’t know you.’”

Hesitant prospects just don't know enough about your company yet, says Jordan Belfort, 'The Real Wolf of Wall Street.' It's up to salespeople in logistics to overcome that uncertainty by filling in the blanks.

“So rather than addressing that objection head-on, we deflect it instead. If someone said to me, ‘I want to think about it,’ I’m going to say, ‘You know, I hear what you’re saying. Let me ask you a question: Does the idea make sense to you? Do you like the program?’

They’ll typically say, ‘Yeah, it sounds pretty good.’

And I say, ‘Exactly, it really is a great program! Let me say this: What this program also does is…’ and then I will loop back and re-present and make them more certain. I tell them more about my company. I fill in the blanks. I create an impeccable, airtight, scream-from-the-hilltops logical case about why my company is the best solution. And when I’m done, I’ll ask them, ‘See what I’m saying? Does that make sense to you?’

Now they’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah!’”

Jordan Belfort, ‘The Real Wolf of Wall Street’ in Put That Coffee Down Presented by Lean Staffing

Visit the FreightWaves Virtual Events site to watch recast sessions and find information on upcoming events.

Check out these other transportation and logistics resources you may have missed:

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

The Best Place to Work is the Best Place to Do Business. Here’s Why.

by Indie Bollman

Maybe you’ve seen this anonymous quote that’s become something of a business legend:

Random CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave? 

Random CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?

We are firm believers—and I comfortably speak for the entire executive team here at Trailer Bridge when I say this—that improving the employee experience is your most direct route to improving customer experience.

If you want to become the company of choice for customers in your industry, you need to become the choice of employer for the best talent available, and then get them onboard to make it happen.

The Trailer Bridge team in Jacksonville, FL.

Why make your people top priority?

From the customer who placed the order to the logistics expert who arranged transport, from the warehouse packer to the truck driver, receiver, and right on through to the last-mile delivery service, each and every one of those people is having an experience.

What kind of experience they’re having is influenced by each interaction they have all the way along the supply chain.

We tend to think of logistics in terms of the complexity of operations, and it’s true that facilities and supplies are an important part of the equation. But more importantly, you have people driving the success of every single transportation logistics transaction, every step of the way.  Each one of the transactions tells a story about how the employees love what they do, and how valued they feel in their role.

Whether you’re shipping a car to Puerto Rico, shipping goods from the US to Mexico or sending containers to the Caribbean, you’ll be amazed at what happens when you show the people of logistics a little love.

They become more connected, energized, and kind. Believe me, you can be a complete badass at your job and still be kind.  Who ever said that someone who has a lot of drive and a competitive spirit, can’t be a nice person?  We have over 200 people here who do are both, and bring that to their work every day.

And when our people are taken care of—when they are energized and fulfilled and are plugged into how we serve others—they take care of our customers in that same spirit.

Employee experience drives customer experience across the supply chain.  It’s that simple.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned in developing the team we have today, it is that the key to employee experience is in helping your people grow. You need to develop your teams and give them a place to go, and opportunities to grow into.

Rock stars don’t want to sit still! We want to fill their buckets with tools and talent, to help them become fulfilled and grow the business as a result.

If you constantly step in and push others aside, they and everyone around them gets the messages that you don't believe in them. - Indie Bollman on positive company culture

It’s no coincidence that in less than a year, Trailer Bridge has been recognized by Inc as a ‘Best Workplace for 2020’, by the Jacksonville Business Journal as the ‘#1 Place to Work in Jacksonville’, and also as the ‘#1 Ocean Carrier’ in the Quest for Quality awards.

While Inc and the Jacksonville Business Journal base their rankings on anonymous employee feedback, Logistics Management’s Quest for Quality awards measures service quality and customer satisfaction from qualified buyers of logistics and transportation services. The outcomes companies are ranked on include:

  • On-time Performance
  • Value
  • Information Technology
  • Customer Service
  • Equipment & Operations

Across each of these critical elements, success hinges on our team members. Our people provide the exceptional service and performance our customers deserve and we expect from one another, day in and day out because that’s just how we do business. It’s an unusual culture built on trust and love where employees are motivated to do their very best for customers—and for each other.

Leading with love means giving employees the tools and structure to grow. It means paying attention to what they need, and it means they’re ready and excited when the opportunity presents itself.

So how do you build a culture of love and growth? Since 2015, we’ve put one or two groups per year through our in-house leadership development program. As we grow the business, we’re creating more spots for leaders and we want those leaders of tomorrow to have a jumpstart on leading with the love that has led us this far (and will lead us forward).

We’re constantly working on creating that next generation of leaders who will take that passion and skill back to their teams.

It goes deeper than your executive team and managers, though. Across the board, we have opportunities to better connect with, engage, and develop our team. We recently rolled out a company-wide skills development initiative that offers all team members their choice of training, from soft skills to hardware to internal job or department-specific training, and everything in between.

Even now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re in the midst of rolling out classes and workshops to help prepare our people for the growth we have planned over the next few years.

Times of chaos and crisis are when employees need you most.  It’s also when they need you to be there for them the most.

As news of the Coronavirus spread and we collectively began to understand the impact it would have on business-as-usual, we were nine months into developing this company-wide educational program. And when it all hits the fan, the initial knee-jerk reaction inside so many organizations is to pause everything, then begin to cut.

Lead with humility, openness and love to develop employees into leaders. - Indie Bollman, Trailer Bridge

Yet when crisis and chaos rule the day, that is when your employees and customers need you most.

They need you to be steady, measured, and reassuring. They need you to keep your eye to the longer-term horizon and not react emotionally or erratically.

We were able to pivot quickly and take advantage of videoconferencing and remote work tools to continue the analysis and planning of this program. Even as we transitioned to largely remote work environments with only a few team members still in office, we were able to show employees that we see what they need and are going to help make it happen.  Our leadership understood that one of the fundamental objectives of being a leader applies now more than ever – pay attention to your teams.

In addition to the COVID support measures we immediately put in place, staying the course in employee development reminded our team that even in these times of turmoil, we are committed to their success. We’re going to keep going, and we’re going to do it together. We put someone in front of each direct report and said, tell us what you need.

Learning to lead with love. Just do it.

The great leaders that I’ve had the honor of working with over the course of my life and career have taught me that we teach people in ways we don’t even think about sometimes. You can show someone how to do something—sign them up for a course, do on-the-job training, give them a book or a video to watch—but the way you act and treat them every day is what matters.

It’s a big, fat, pay-it-forward to teach your own team leadership because they get to that level and they know that what they need to do is teach and elevate, too. The teaching aspect is so important.

That’s why our Leadership Development Program places such great emphasis on coaching. Sure, I can send someone to a Microsoft class and that’s important. But I can also model my character and teach the people around me that how I make them feel is how we make all employees and customers feel.

Something wonderful happens when employees know you believe in them. - Indie Bollman, transportation and logistics industry

And we don’t always get it right. Sometimes we screw up, but then we can model humility. You don’t have to get it perfect every single time to be a leader, and we let our people know that. We model that. We fall down, we screw up, and we learn and move on.

It’s absolutely okay to make mistakes, to model resilience, and move on. If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re trying new things. And we have to be doing that in order to move forward and grow.

Tips for coaching employees to reach their greatest potential.

What does leading with love look like in practice?

  • Determine your employee’s motivations. We first need to figure out, why are you here? What does this person want out of this experience? The most important first step is to get their perspective and let them identify what they want. That sets the groundwork for a positive coaching and learning environment and there a lot of listening in this phase (as well as the rest of the process).
  • Explore what is holding them back. As humans, we’re in our own way a lot. There’s a lot of emotional intelligence in that. Self-awareness is huge. It has to be a safe environment, and trusting, so people are comfortable saying this is what I want, and this is what’s holding me back.
  • Introduce them to the tools and supports that will get to that next level. When I see someone experience a breakthrough and achieve that goal they were working towards, I feel so fulfilled, as well. It’s a little bit magical.  When people learn that about themselves—that fulfillment you get from lifting up and teaching a colleague—they start to rethink all of their relationships. They start to rethink how they speak to others. I’m growing in that all the time myself.
  • Care about how much they want to grow and be in it with them 100%. Leadership is not about the leaders, it’s about the team. The joy of helping someone come through something really has to be enough for you, or why are you doing this?

It’s really cool when it happens and you see the people you are coaching making it to that next level and grow in themselves and their work. It has to happen every single day across the organization for that shift in culture to really take hold and thrive.

I’m thrilled that our CEO Mitch Luciano is naturally that kind of leader.  It’s who he is and he continues to inspire that leadership across the team today.

These are the types of leaders we look for as we hire new people and develop the team. You get to decide what kind of leader you’re going to be, and you can make that choice once in your life or you can make it every single day.

You get to decide what you stand for. We stand for creating a workplace where people don’t mind spending their days and want to be. We stand for treating our customers and employees with love, empathy, and kindness.

How you treat your people = how they treat each other = how they’re going to treat your customers.

I know it’s a lot of equal signs, but it’s a proven formula.

Transportation is a hard, challenging, fast-paced space—but you can still be nice. In fact, this is the space in which love is needed more than anywhere else, to power freight seamlessly forward through each interaction with the care and attention it deserves.

Want to learn more about how we make it happen? Get in touch with a member of the Trailer Bridge team today to quote a lane.

And if you think you could be the kind of caring logistics badass we’re looking for, make sure you check out our current openings. You just might be the next member of the Trailer Bridge family!

Love and Acquisitions in Times of COVID – What the Truck?!?

How can you build and protect a company culture of positivity, inclusivity, diversity, and hard work, even as you merge with or acquire companies? And how do you protect those qualities that make your transportation brand unique when crisis strikes or pandemic hits?

 

Dooner and The Dude, hosts of FreightWaves’ mega-popular ‘What the Truck?!?’ podcast, welcomed Trailer Bridge’s own Mitch Luciano on the show this week to talk all things company culture, current events, and Coronavirus impact.

Check out this 10-minute video chat in which Mitch, Dooner and The Dude discuss:

  • the impact of love and trust in business 
  • diversity and inclusion in the logistics industry
  • merging teams and protecting the best qualities of your company culture during M&As
  • weathering business interruptions and coming back stronger than ever
  • the impact of COVID-19 on transportation and logistics and what we may expect in the near future.

 

Grab a beverage and get comfortable. If you have any questions about this show or Trailer Bridge’s team and services, shoot us an email or reach out to the team on Twitter. Ready? Let’s do this!

Trailer Bridge CEO Interviews with Dooner & The Dude on What The Truck?!? – Full transcript

Dooner: Hey Mitch, this is Dooner and The Dude on What’s the Truck. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today! 

Mitch: Absolutely, thank you!

Dooner: Hey before we jump into it—because I know we’re going to talk about some cool stuff like the importance of M&A activity and preserving culture—but just what is the elevator pitch on Trailer Bridge? I understand you guys do some interesting things. A lot of us think of ocean freight as 40s, 20s and 45s, but I think you move 53s and some other outsized freight, as well, right?

Mitch: We do, we do. We’re an asset-based logistics company but the core of what we do is move 53-foot containers between Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the Virgin Islands. It started by Malcom McLean back in 1992; that’s the grandfather of containerization. And we just expanded it out to other parts of the US and to Mexico. 

Dooner: And your company seems like a great place to work—in fact, so much so that Jacksonville Business Journal’s number one award was in Best Place to Work for 2020 for your company, just weeks after being named Best Workplace by Inc. Magazine. Congratulations! How and why were you bestowed those honors? 

Mitch: You know honestly, it just comes down to taking care of your people. When you treat your people with kindness and love they will give back so much to you. And so when these magazines and periodicals come out with these questionnaires, we just say “Fill it out and be honest.” Just be heartfelt and truthful. And they do that. I think it’s a result of having an amazing team and amazing leadership, and just genuinely caring for your team. 

Diversity, Inclusion, and What It Means to be #TBStrong

The Dude: Hey Mitch, congratulations on that award, that’s a really good thing! Speaking of this, this year has really highlighted a number of areas in regards to company culture; for instance, health and safety in light of COVID-19, and also obviously diversity and inclusion. Do you think we highlight these areas enough in our industry? 

Mitch: You know, it’s difficult because our industry can be fairly segmented at times. So I think that we do need to spend a little more time with this, especially when you go through the events we’ve gone through over the last three or four months. If your people don’t trust you and you don’t trust them, it’s very difficult to work through this. Imagine all of these people working from home—if there’s not a level of trust between you, between the leadership and the people, how can you drive out of this and be stronger on the backside than you are on the front side? I think it’s the culture. 

You know, we talk about this more over the last few years than we have ever before and I think it’s a cornerstone of any successful company. We’re seeing it now. We’re seeing that companies that have a stronger culture—whether you’re 10 employees or 5,000 employees—you’re seeing them thrive right now. While for those that don’t, it’s slowly falling apart.

Dooner: Hey, and we’re seeing it right now in the comments section. We have a lot of different guests out here but Team TB has shown up strong! Eric Masotti says, “Trailer Bridge!” Melissa Morrison says, “TB Strong!” Laura Johnson says, “Make it happen!” Matthew Lewis, “TB Strong!” Who else have we got here? Allen Lucas, “TB Strong!” Allen Perez Torres, “TB Strong!” Indie Bollman, “TB Strong!” Savannah Marshall, “TB Strong!” Samantha Guilrico, “TB Strong!” Ann Jones, “TB Strong!” Man! We have a lot of guests on here but I think you have topped everybody in terms of workforce getting active in the comments!

Mitch: Yeah, they do too! You know, the news has come out and I think it just goes to show how much they care about me and they know how much I care about them. They want to listen and I don’t know… maybe see what mistake comes out of my mouth or what I might say. But you know, we’ve have bi-weekly and monthly town halls where we get everybody on the same call. I used to do it in person, now we’re doing it on zoom. So they’re used to hearing me and they’re just very supportive. It’s my work family and they know how much I love them.

How to Grow and Preserve Culture Through a Merger or Acquisition

Dooner: Yeah, and Charlie Sanchez says, “TB Strong, we are the best!” They’re saying they haven’t worked a day in their lives. There’s so many in here we could just spend the whole thing reading names, but one of the things we wanna talk about is focusing on growth. It’s something Trailer Bridge has done well and it’s great. But how do you identify—in light of safety, inclusion, diversity, culture, all these things—how do you identify partners to merge with and acquisitions and make that blood transfusion work?

Mitch: I think a part of it, initially in any acquisition or merger, you look at the financials so you have to see if there’s an opportunity there. But I think people get really stuck on the financials, you need to say their  good and let’s take the next steps. Part of due diligence really should be understanding the culture. The culture of the organization you are looking to merge with or acquire—will it fit in with yours? 

When I’ve seen these fail in the past, it’s not really the financials that fail—they’ll speak for themselves. It’s really about, why aren’t people driving success? Why are they not holding themselves accountable? Why are they not fitting in? And you really have to understand that, look at that, and make sure that’s not going to be a huge hurdle in driving success and bringing those people under your umbrella. 

It is easy, when you have a company that is really struggling and morale is down… I mean, you look at someone like Trailer Bridge—Best Place to Work in Jacksonville and in Inc Magazine, #1 Ocean Carrier by Logistics Management—we talk about all those things and they go, “Wow, I’m kind of excited!” But you have to live up to it every single day. You genuinely have to listen to what their needs are because it’s going to be a little different from what we traditionally have at Trailer Bridge or any company, you have to listen and make sure you do something about it. Don’t just listen and not do anything—listen and actually act.

The Dude: Yeah Mitch, that’s really good stuff. It reminds me of working in operations over the years. And I worked in your space at a rather large company down in Riviera Beach… maybe you know who I’m talking about, that also services the Virgin Islands and all of the islands in an NVOCC to the Greater Antilles, etc. But if you don’t think you have theft, then you have a theft problem. If you don’t think you’ve got a morale problem or a diversity issue or productivity or whatever with your people, you probably do. It’s one of those things you have to wake up every morning and work, right?

Mitch: Without a doubt. Specifically at Trailer Bridge, when we started this turnaround five or six years ago, I told the leadership team, “There can’t be a day we fail. It’s going to take us three years to actually change the culture. But if we fail or we don’t pay attention one day, it’s going to set us back again. So you have to do it every single day. You have to—to your point, it’s not just about morale or culture, but part of that is the safety of the people. Making sure that if there is trouble, how are you going to manage that and what protocols do you have in place? The best ideas come from those who deal with this everyday. I see it a lot, where companies put all these plans in place and they do it at a very high level and they don’t include those people who are actually physically doing the job every day. 

That’s something I believe we pride ourselves on. We get their input and it’s so valuable. And we actually put that input into practice and it makes a big difference. 

What will logistics and the supply chain look like post-COVID?

Dooner: Hey Mitch, one of the things we’ve been looking at is the recovery. We’ve been looking at freight recovery, we’ve been looking in SONAR and talking to guests. So let me ask you this, do you think we see the square root, the swoosh, the V, the W? The L, is it lost? I know your seat’s a little bit different in the way you guys move cargo, but what do you think? What do you make of it all? 

Mitch: We’ve seen a big spike over the last two, three weeks and that’s the biggest question I get: “Is this going to remain or is this just replenishing the supply chain?” And I think it’s… we’re not going to see the big drop—I know a lot of people predicted we’re going to see a big drop off in the supply chain. 

I don’t think it’s going to drop off heavily. It’s not going to be where it is in the last couple of weeks with this huge spike. I think we’re going to see it chip off a little but we have to remember, a lot of people are sitting at home. They’re not going on vacation, they’re not going out to restaurants, they’re not doing a lot of things they spend money on. If they’re fortunate enough to still have a job, they’re probably going to spend the money on something else. 

So we will see consumer spending over the next couple of months, I just don’t know how long that’s going to last. I don’t think it’s going to last a super long time, but it all depends on whether these cases get down, or here in Florida we’ve seen in just really blow up and climb and that’s been a huge concern. So I think that is going to play a big role in how we see the rest of the freight market continue to move.

Dooner: Mitch that’s great insight, and you’re seeing similar even though you’re moving slightly different cargo then general freight, with those spikes and those uptakes. And I have to agree to what you just said. And you know too, I have to say you travel well! You fill a stadium. You’ve got a ton of people in these comment sections who are all like: 

“We make it happen!” 

“Trailer Bridge has changed my life for the better.”

“Love you, Mitch!”

“We’re going to book a thousand loads after this interview.”

“My fam loves Mitch and everyone at TB!” 

Wow! So how do people reach out and learn more and join the family?

Mitch: If you just go to trailerbridge.com, we have a huge recruiting page, and we have a recruiting team who just do an amazing job. If they have an interest in joining, we have offices across the U.S. So we have a logistics group that handles a lot of domestic freight, and we also have the ocean business so if you live in Jacksonville or find one of our locations like Chicago, Houston, and many more… if you find one of those locations and you want to grow in this space, send us your resume and tell us why you would make a good fit. Don’t just send a resume… put a cover letter with it and make it exciting. Make yourself stand out and be different. 

Dooner: Wow Mitch, and Emily Szink, she’s GM of Content… she saw a ton of Trailer Bridge email addresses downloading the FreightWaves TV App leading up to this and during this to watch you be on here. It’s amazing, and I’m not just saying this to blow smoke. 

We have had a lot of people on the show, and your team… I mean I think it speaks a lot to you and the awards by your team traveling so well and supporting you and you and saying all of these kind words. It does seem like it’s coming from the heart. We really appreciate your time today. Everybody, go join Mitch! Join his team, it sounds like a great place to work.

Mitch: Thank you guys very much. I truly appreciate the opportunity.

Want to learn more about the Trailer Bridge difference?

Uber’s Re-evaluation of Freight Underscores the Importance of People in Logistics

by Eric Masotti, Vice-President of Logistics, Trailer Bridge, as published on FreightWaves

 

The recent announcement of massive layoffs and the closure of 45 offices at Uber Technologies—and in particular, its CEO’s stated commitment to re-evaluating non-core, cashburning businesses like Uber Freight—set the logistics world abuzz.

However, I would argue that it’s not in the way FreightWaves contributor Ryan Schreiber describes. As he makes the case for Uber as an innovative disruptor in freight, he encourages us to hear him out “before everyone starts celebrating the possible demise of Uber Freight.”

Celebrating the collapse of Uber Freight is not on the agenda at any brokerage of which I am aware. The industry professionals I know are disheartened that thousands of people have been left unemployed; that economic uncertainty and instability have been an unfortunate side effect of the health crisis that is COVID-19. Yes, Uber’s technology has transformed the industry in some ways. However, the capacity to undercut competitors by using transportation as a loss leader within a more profitable enterprise has had a far greater impact (and Uber isn’t alone on that front).

Technology isn’t new to transportation. People were already using technology to benefit customers and employees alike; they just weren’t using the same strategy of being an application-only device. We know that automation is the way forward, enabling us to reduce redundancy, cut inefficiency, and free up human time for more creative and impactful tasks.

“The interaction between a freight customer and the person who understands the intricacies of their business cannot be automated.”

What has happened, though, is that some have attempted to automate what was never meant to be machine-driven: the relationship between the customer and their shipper. The interaction between a freight customer and the person who understands the intricacies of their business cannot be automated. A freight transaction is far more nuanced and complex than, “Pick me up here at 8:15pm and drop me at the movies.”

In the current business environment, companies that deliver cost savings by sacrificing the human element in logistics should be thriving. Many shipping & receiving companies have been forced to close during the pandemic, but trucking companies stayed open. With fewer shippers and the same amount of trucks on the road, prices have come down over the last six weeks. These conditions should be the best thing going for companies with a less interactive model, that requires less haggling and relationship management.

What we are seeing though is that the need for smart, creative people who are passionate about their work—about helping other people solve the very real challenges of moving all manner of goods from A to B—has never been greater. The sheer magnitude of this international emergency has demanded all-hands-on-deck to keep the supply of critical healthcare supplies, groceries, fuel, and other commodities moving. This has been a very humanizing crisis; millions have been affected and you would be hard-pressed to find a corner of the world that hasn’t felt the impact.

It has required every ounce of creativity, critical thinking and caring we’ve collectively been able to throw at it. Jacob Wegrzyn, my colleague and VP for the Caribbean here at Trailer Bridge put it best recently when he said, “Seeing the goods we have brought to Puerto Rico in supermarkets, hardware and department stores, car dealers, and manufacturing plants makes me extremely proud.”

We need people who care about outcomes, who are accountable to their customers, involved every step of the way.

Shipping is fraught with constraints and each one you add to an algorithm makes it less effective. When something doesn’t go right (as we know happens frequently in this industry), the people get lost in the shuffle. There is no industry expert who is already up to speed on the situation just a phone call away, ready to jump in with alternatives. The solution hasn’t been designed by a professional who factored their knowledge, relationships, and experience into the equation; who is ready to pivot quickly and move to Plan B if the situation requires.

“…the technology we have at our disposal today is helping transportation and logistics experts make more creative, innovative solutions all the time.”

It just doesn’t work (in any industry) to choose the tech first and attempt to find a problem for it to solve. Innovation and efficiency don’t necessarily mean lower touch, less personal services. In fact, the technology we have at our disposal today is helping transportation and logistics experts make more creative, innovative solutions all the time.

The human element is key. Computers and automation don’t fix traffic, trucks breaking down, appointments missed, or anything else that can go wrong in the supply chain. People do.

As we look to help customers recover from the personal and economic turmoil this Coronavirus has caused, it’s as clear to me today as it ever was that empowering our employees with technology, not replacing them with it, is the way forward. Innovative, personalized, customer-centric transportation services pave the path to our collective recovery—and you just can’t automate that.

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

 


Eric Masotti, Vice President of Logistics, manages Trailer Bridge’s fast-growing domestic full-service logistics division and ongoing expansion. Since earning his BS in Business Administration from UNC Chapel Hill and his MBA from the University of Florida, Eric has logged more than 15 years of experience in the logistics and freight business.

 

Shipping with Heart: How Fun, Innovative Culture Drives Exceptional Service [VIDEO]

 

When we talk about company culture, we tend to focus on what’s happening within our own four walls, so to speak. But in the transportation industry, culture is an important factor at every step in the supply chain—certainly within your own company, but also in the partners, vendors, and suppliers you choose, as well. 

You’ve probably heard the expression, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” Across the supply chain, you need the dedication, consistency and efficiency that results from exceptional culture. It’s critically important in a business like ours, where people are constantly challenged to quickly make sense of complex customer needs and the myriad factors involved in moving goods from point A to B as safely and efficiently as possible. 

Positive Culture a Must in a Transportation Logistics Partner

Research shows that when employees feel their voices are heard, they are over 4x more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Highly engaged teams also show 21% greater profitability, with less absenteeism and reduced turnover. Culture touches every aspect of your business, from employee satisfaction and retention to productivity, innovation, and the level of service you’re able to deliver for customers.

We know that as a customer in the transportation industry, our culture affects you and your business, too.

That’s why we’ve made it our top priority. When Mitch Luciano took over as CEO of Trailer Bridge in 2015, it was clear from both employee and customer feedback that our culture was sorely lacking. At some point, it had stopped being fun and rewarding to come to work. That needed to change, from the top right on down.

And it did. It didn’t happen overnight, but we’ve transformed our company culture together. Today, it’s something we’re all working together to continue to build and protect.

How People Drive the Success of Supply Chain Management Processes

The positive company culture we’ve worked hard to build earned Trailer Bridge recognition from Inc. recently as a “Top Workplace for 2020,” and it’s a benefit that we’re delighted to pass on to our customers, too. When we won the 2019 Quest for Quality Award for Top Ocean Carrier, it was a direct result of that laser focus on building a remarkable culture—on empowering our employees to serve our customers’ needs to the very best of their abilities in every transaction, now and for years to come.

Quote a lane and request a quote for your ocean, truckload, intermodal, warehousing, white glove, expedited, specialized cargo, vehicles, over-dimensional, or transloading shipment.

Whether shipping via ocean (containers, over-dimensional, NIT, or SOL), full truckload, less-than-truckload, rail, or expedited, we make it happen through each team member’s unwavering commitment to 12 core values:

  1. Deliver exceptional service to everyone
  2. Be kind & fair
  3. Be honest & fearlessly authentic
  4. Act with integrity
  5. Be passionate & determined
  6. Be flexible & embrace change
  7. Be accountable for your actions
  8. Build open & honest relationships with communication
  9. Create & be fun
  10. Be curious & adventurous
  11. Pursue growth & learning
  12. Be fast & accurate

People who do what they love, serving people who love what we do—it really is that simple. 

So what does an exceptional service built on the solid foundation of a fun, innovative culture look like? Check it out:

(Full video transcript available below)

The Story of a People-centric Business Led With Love – Full Video Transcript

Narrator – 00:00

There are more people living on earth today than at any other time in history. In fact, the world’s population is expected to hit 9.9 billion by the year 2050. With more people than ever, more cargo is being moved in every direction and in every way. 

One would be hard-pressed to find something in their home or office that wasn’t moved at some point in a container, either by land or sea, barge or truckload or rail to name a few. This increased need to move cargo has resulted in the rapid growth of the logistics industry.

Eric Massoti, Vice President of Logistics – 00:39 

Transportation itself is over a $600 billion dollar industry and when you look at the domestic landscape, there are tons of technology factors that are really changing the game. It started out as a notecard/phone system about 20 years ago. Today, big data and information technology play a huge part in how you can match the best truck with the specific shipment in order to have a reduced cost to both the shipping company and also the end-user.

Mitch Luciano, CEO – 01:02 

I joined the organization back at the end of 2012, about a year after they came out of a bankruptcy in 2011. I joined the company as the VP of Logistics. During that period of time from the end of 2012 to the end of 2014, we had four CEOs in the organization. At the end of 2014, the board decided to offer me the opportunity of being the president and CEO of Trailer Bridge. 

Since I had two years already at the organization, I quickly realized it was the morale and culture of the organization that wasn’t focused on positivity or growth. We were continuing to have large losses and so we had to fix that. We focused on the employees of the company. We did it with the basis of love and kindness, and we did it by holding leadership accountable for listening to the employees and ultimately that led into results that were positive. In 2016, we were voted number eight in the best place to work in all of Jacksonville. In 2017, we were voted the best place to work in Jacksonville—#1.  

The employees embraced the changes that we were bringing in and everything around this organization—whether it’s the foosball table, whether it’s the pool table, or whether it’s just listening to the employees—really resonated and brought them huge amounts positivity. 

Our customers love us; they voted us #1 in service. We know them and they’re like family to us, too. So it really created an incredible organization that’s growing, from $100 million to $200 million in just a three-year span, plus having huge positive results behind it.

Jeff Vaughn, CCO – 02:28

The key point of contact in the industry was to have multiple facets of the service lines in the supply chain, from scheduling to documentation to booking a request to booking a container, to moving freight from A to B, and the multiple individuals that they’re communicating with. We try to make sure that we have a single point of contact for that customer, so they build trust and a relationship with one individual that will start to promote additional opportunities. They build trust quicker in that aspect and also it’s sustainable, so we develop that going forward. We have a single point of contact through every part of the supply chain with our customer base.

Respect and collaboration power Trailer Bridge's exceptional company culture and customer service, which won the company a Quest for Quality Award for #1 Ocean Carrier.

Narrator – 03:08

When a company culture bolsters a family dynamic where everyone can thrive, especially in a fast-paced industry such as the logistics industry, the employees succeed. The company thrives and the expectations of customers are exceeded, projecting entire industries forward. At Trailer Bridge, we love what we do and we’re different because of it.

Kerry Shugart, Director of Terminal Operations – 03:28 

We strive for the highest levels safety levels when we’re operating by having accountability for all of our actions, whether it’s regulatory or whether it’s safety. The safety of our personnel is our priority and then we follow up with the integrity of the cargo we pass along to the customers. 

We strive to always hire the best talent. I really base it on finding people with the personalities that are a great fit for our culture. Then we try to mirror that with a high level of intelligence in technically sound people in the industry. But first and foremost, looking for people that fit our culture as well as having the industry talent—this is going to help us succeed.

Narrator – 03:58

Trailer Bridge has discovered that there’s a direct correlation between business growth and applying a philosophy of fun, innovation, and exceptional service to both employees and customers.

Indie Bollman, VP of Corporate Development – 4:08

Here at Trailer Bridge, we understand the importance of culture and we also know very well that it begins at the point of application. Getting the right people on board is important to keeping the culture alive and it’s also important to change it when it needs to change. But that starts with identifying what you’re looking for in those employees. What are they bringing to the table? 

For us, it’s a half-and-half thing—it’s half character; it’s half type-A, go-getters, drivers… And here’s the thing: the other half is skill, so we love those type-A, great people who are nice. A lot of people would say, ‘Well, that’s not possible.’ I happen to know it’s very possible and we welcome them onboard every day.

Mitch Luciano, CEO – 04:46

Our number one goal is to continue the culture that we’ve built at Trailer Bridge because as any company grows, focusing on that culture is going to be incredibly important. We, as an organization, have doubled in size over the last three years and our goals are to even do that again over the next three years. In doing so, we have to remain focused on the people, especially since we’re opening up branches around the country. It makes it more difficult; they’re not in one central location and so getting people out there to see them on a regular basis, and bringing them here to see what the culture is, listening to them whether they’re in Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Puerto Rico wherever they might be—it is very, very important that we sustain that culture because that’s only going to help us sustain that growth and double in size again over the next several years.

To learn more about how Trailer Bridge’s total transportation system can provide value, service, and growth for your business, call 1-844-TBSHIPS today or request a quote online.

Trailer Bridge Recognized By Inc. Magazine as a Best Workplace for 2020

Recording a 93.43 out of a possible 100, Trailer Bridge is one of the highest-scoring businesses in America delivering exceptional employee engagement

May 6, 2020, Jacksonville, Florida – Trailer Bridge is proud to announce it has been named to Inc. magazine’s annual list of Best Workplaces for 2020.  The list is the result of a wide-ranging and comprehensive measurement of American companies that have created exceptional workplaces through vibrant cultures, deep employee engagement, and stellar benefits.

Collecting data from thousands of submissions, Inc. singled out 389 finalists for this year’s list. Each nominated company took part in an employee survey, conducted by Quantum Workplace, on topics including trust, management effectiveness, perks, engagement, and confidence in the future. Inc. gathered, analyzed, and audited the data, ranking the finalists using a composite score of survey results.

The strongest engagement scores came from companies that prioritize the most human elements of work. These companies are leading the way in employee recognition, performance management, and diversity. It is a different playbook from a decade ago, when too many firms used the same template: free food, open work environments, and artifacts of “fun.”

“Our people are devoted to making Trailer Bridge the best workplace around, and I am so proud of each and every one of our team members for creating a culture where people love coming to work,” shared Trailer Bridge CEO, Mitch Luciano. “Even during this pivotal time in our history, we’re still having fun together.   It’s humbling to see the commitment by our team to remain fully engaged in order to serve our customers and each other side-by-side, as we deliver the essential supplies needed to support our families, our communities and our economy,” shared Trailer Bridge CEO Mitch Luciano.

“I am proud to witness this exceptional strength and commitment to keeping supply chains moving for the livelihood of others. This is our culture and this is exactly why we’ve earned this prestigious award,” Luciano continued.

“Building a great corporate culture comes only from strong leadership,” says Inc. magazine editor-in-chief Scott Omelianuk. “The companies on Inc.’s Best Workplaces list are setting an example that the whole country can learn from, especially now, when company culture is more important to the workforce than ever.”

An award-winning transportation provider for services and workplace culture, Trailer Bridge serves companies across all industries with over the road trucking and ocean shipping across North America and the Caribbean.

 

Click here for the detailed report and ranking for Inc. Magazine’s best Workplaces in 2020 award. Inc. Magazine Detailed Report on Trailer Bridge Best Workplace in America

Ultimate CEO Nominee Shares How To Build Trust In Your Organization

Mitch Luciano shares with us how he took a dying company to a successful, thriving business in a few years. His experience as a leader gave him the wisdom on how to navigate tough changes in leadership while maintaining trust and empathy in the company culture.

Mr. Luciano has been with Trailer Bridge, Inc. since 2012, originally joining the company as the VP of Logistics, and currently holding the role of President & CEO. Prior to joining Trailer Bridge, Mr. Luciano spent over 19 years in the Transportation and Logistics industry with large international and domestic logistics organizations, NYK Logistics North America and C.H. Robinson, along with start-up ventures in the logistics and system development arenas.

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