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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