Ah, Valentine’s Day is coming.
The most romantic holiday of all, at least for the 55% of Americans who actually celebrate it. Though nearly half of us DON’T participate in a meaningful way, those who do, apparently do it up BIG.
According to Forbes Magazine, consumer spending on Valentine’s Day is third only to Christmas and Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day comes in around $23.5 billion and Valentine’s Day is not far behind at just under $20 billion. (Yes, BILLION. On Valentine’s Day. WOW.)
What are these spenders buying?
According to the National Retail Federation, on Valentine’s Day in 2017 almost $2,000,000,000 (that’s 2 BILLION!) was spent on flowers alone!
That is A LOT of flowers – and an upwards of 250 MILLION roses alone! But that’s really no big surprise, as the classic red rose is as much a part of Valentine’s Day as a chubby-cheeked cherub.
Yet, when that gorgeous dozen (or two!) arrives, fresh and flawless, most people don’t think twice about where they started and how they arrived. Their attention is on the flower’s perfect beauty and of course, their admirer.
So, from where will your rose start its journey this year?
While it’s not surprising that so many flowers are sent on Valentine’s Day, it may come as a surprise that almost all of the long-stemmed roses sold in the United States come from South America. Most of those roses come from Columbia and Ecuador. It is known that some of the world’s finest coffee grows exceedingly well there, and this same climate produces millions of the finest flowers as well.
Did you know: roses grow perfectly straight only near the equator, where the sun shines perpendicular to the plants. How cool is that?
Now that we’ve sourced the roses, how do they get from hot and humid South America to points across the United States before they bloom, wilt and die? To waste the life of a long-stemmed rose otherwise destined for greatness in her eyes would be tragic!!
Talk about time-sensitive, fragile freight!
It’s a big-time logistical challenge with a 10-12 day “make or break” window to go from harvest in South America to a vase somewhere near you. It goes without saying that fresh roses must not arrive too early and be opened too soon. Or even worse, turn brown in the days leading up to this most romantic holiday.
It’s such a perfect balance of the rose’s transition from life to death and the truck, trains, and planes that deliver this annual delight is critical. That only is achieved through the most rigorous logistics standards and reliable equipment.
An exacting refrigeration “cold chain” is a must. It ensures the flowers remain “dormant” in bud-status past the initial delivery to wholesalers. The woody perennial flowering plant of the genus Rosa, in the family Rosaceae, must then remain in its suspended state long enough to make it to the retailers. Then to the homes and offices of their adoring fans everywhere.
The most classic presentation of the long-stemmed rose is, after all, a tightly-closed bud that will open gradually after reaching its final destination.
So what does the journey of a long-stemmed rose look like, through the experienced eye of the billion-dollar floral industry?
As you can see, it is an amazing journey that long-stemmed roses take, from the first fields to their final stop.
The next time you buy or receive a beautiful bouquet, take a moment to say “THANK YOU!” to the international team of transportation and logistics men and women who make it happen!
Happy Valentine’s Day!!!
AAGEX Freight Group appoints VPs
AAGEX Freight Group has appointed Jon Bramlett vice president of operations. Prior to joining AAGEX, he held management positions at Stonier Transportation Group, NYK Logistics and Crowley.
AAGEX also named Bill Sandberg vice president of technology. He held similar positions with Rising Sun Systems and NYK Logistics.
In addition, the Jacksonville Beach, Fla.-based third-party logistics services provider hired Kim Watson as director of business services and human resources. She has more than 10 years of experience in the freight transportation and logistics industry.
AAGEX Freight Group, a new non-asset transportation services company headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla., offers FTL, flatbed, heavy haul, LTL, intermodal, and expedited transportation services throughout North America. The company fulfills these solutions through a network of independent branch locations.
Just weeks after launching itself as a company, AAGEX Freight group has acquired two other companies.
AAGEX will act as the holding company to AGX Freight Carriers and AGX Freight Logistics, formerly Apex Carriers and Apex Transportation Solutions out of Rome, Georgia.
Mike Williams, CEO of AAGEX and former CEO of Sunteck, said that acquiring companies early on was always part of his plan to quickly grow his company. It’s now gone from less than 10 employees to 100, including 85 truck drivers.
“Acquisitions are a great way to jumpstart the business,” Williams said. “We made two relatively small but meaningful acquisitions.”
The company’s back office and administrative staff roles will be centralized in Jacksonville, while the drivers and equipment will stay in near where most of the freight is in Rome, just 50 miles outside Atlanta.
These acquisition will be the trucking company and broker company entities that AAGEX’s agents will represent.
“Agents will work with owner-operators leased onto our trucking motor carrier group,” Williams said. “On the broker side, agents will have broker authority under AGX freight logistics to offer those services.”
Williams declined to disclose deal terms, but said that the companies acquired had a combined annual revenue between $10 million and $15 million. Some executives will stay on with the company, while the owner will help during the transition phase.
Williams said that the acquisitions were key in order to have what was needed to support his business model right away.
“It was a critical step to instantly have the back end stuff in place to support our agent network,” he said.
A longtime Jacksonville logistics leader is starting his own company, after his brief retirement.
Mike Williams, former CEO, COO and general counsel for Sunteck, is now the leader of Aagex
Feight Group, a Jacksonville Beach agent-based third party logistics provider.
The company will have motor carrier authority and will operate commercial vehicles, as well have broker authority to broker freight and serve as a non-asset logistics company. Williams has been in the logistics business since he came to Jacksonville in 1995 with his law degree.
After working at Sunteck for more than eight years, he retired for just over a year. “It was a pretty intense eight-and-a-half years,” Williams said in an exclusive interview with the Business Journal. “When I started the company was headquartered in Boca Raton. I commuted back and forth many years. Over the course of time the company migrated its more corporate functions
The company was sold to a private equity firm in 2013, and Williams stayed on for just over a year-and-a-half, serving as CEO. “When you run hard and fast for eight-and-a-half years, and you sell the company to new investors with new ideas, there’s opportunities to go in different directions,” he said. “So I took time to take a breather and have more of a relaxed lifestyle than
the fast-paced world.”
That meant creating his Jacksonville Beach law practice, which he will continue doing pro-bono work out of representing children in dependency court, and running his charity, which protects children from sexual abuse. But after a year Williams said he was ready to get back into the transportation & logistics business.
“I have a real passion for the business, driven by my passion for working with entrepreneurs and small business owners,” he said. Aagex, which stands for American Freight Agent Exchange, will be an agent-only network. Rather than having employees, all of the sales team will be independent contractors, who earn a variable commission based on how successful they are in pricing, getting customers, etc. “Our agency model is clear-cut,” Williams said.
“The benefit shows up in your paycheck that week. It’s easier to motivate sales. Agents are entrepreneurs, they take risk in their own performance. I love to work with those that take risk and love to support them.”
The company will have between 10 to 15 employees, with about seven to nine in Jacksonville and the remainder in Georgia. Those employees will be back-office and clerical support. Williams said he is now hiring agents. While other companies, such as Landstar or Sunteck, use the agent-based model, Williams said his expertise and customer service will help set the company apart.
“A lot of these T&L companies are commoditized in the type of service they offer: they say ‘we keep up with tech advancements or regulatory advancements.’ Ultimately, it’s up to the competency of the team. Our basic services are in line with our competitors,” Williams said.
“But I think I make a difference in the mix. I know what success looks like. It’s important in an agent model to find the balance in commission, what you have after is for your platform to have top notch infrastructure. You have to have someone experience at the helm I think to have that value.”
AAGEX Freight Group President and CEO Mike Williams said the new company is inspired by his vision to advance a business model for logistics entrepreneurs to keep pace in a fast evolving market.
Jacksonville, Fla.-based transportation and logistics firm AAGEX Freight Group, LLC has recently been established, AAGEX Freight Group President and CEO Mike Williams announced.
The new company will provide full-truckload, flat bed, heavy haul, less-than-truckload, intermodal and expedited transportation services across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In addition, AAGEX Freight Group will use the McLeod Software platform including LoadMaster, PowerBroker and DocumentPower.
According to Williams, the new company is inspired by his vision to advance a business model for logistics entrepreneurs to keep pace in a fast evolving market.
“For many years, industry analysts predicted a move to consolidation of an otherwise fragmented domestic market of asset based trucking, freight brokers, and third party logistics companies,” Williams said. “Now we are seeing it (consolidation) as some try to capture greater market share with a ‘mega-company’ approach, when in-fact, some of the most talented professionals can deliver excellent service from high performing small and mid-size platforms.” “AAGEX (pronounced a-jex) will enable the owners of private trucking and logistics companies to remain competitive with the industry’s largest players, while igniting their entrepreneurialism that makes all the difference,” Williams added.
With nearly 20 years of experience in the logistics industry, Williams has held previous roles including chief operating officer, general council, president and chief executive officer at several logistics and trucking companies with revenues ranging from $30 million to $400 million, according to the company’s website.
Bill Sandberg, Vice President of Technology
Education: University of North Florida
Bill’s primary objective is to ensure that the infrastructure and technology platforms utilized and provided by AAGEX are second-to-none. Some of his accomplishments include creating cloud infrastructure, and performing key consulting that helped companies grow up to 50% in average annual growth.