Interview with John Edwards, Agency Principal in our Savannah, GA office.

Interview with John Edwards, Agency Principal in our Savannah, GA office.

John Edwards is a long-time partner with AAGEX. We recently spoke to him about his experience.

How long have you been in the transportation business? And in those years, how long have you been in the chassis stack business?

I started in the business in 1989, as a salaried employee for my uncle’s business in Savannah, GA. We were moving project cargo for the new Toyota and Nissan plants in America. 

My uncle went out of business and my brother Scott and I were out of a job. I went to work as an agent in Savannah for Ace Transportation out of Lafayette, LA. At that time, the agency model was a new concept. We wound up working as an independent agent for GT Worldwide Transport in 1999.

We stayed there around 5 years and started moving chassis in 2001. I love this business and this specific niche. I’ve built solid relationships with carriers, suppliers and the depots where units are generally picked up from. 

I’ve built a strong rapport. Because of it, I get calls for many special needs loads because my team and I get the job done!

What’s your favorite part of the transportation industry? 

I like the current trend. ELD’s, safer trucks, stronger rates, and high-demand. Finally, we’re earning what we’re worth.

There were many years where the shippers were beating us up, and we had to work twice as hard to get half as far.

What’s the craziest story you have since becoming a transportation professional?

Bringing my brother back into the business with me in 2009, after being out of the industry for 5 years. I knew he was unhappy where he was. I talked with him and brought him back into the fold.

Scott is my right-hand man. I couldn’t do what I’m doing without him, his support, and his knowledge.

Where do you see your agency in the next 5 years? 

I see our agency generating $15 million, being in a larger office space with upwards of 15 employees and having an expanded presence in the South Atlantic market!

I’d like to add, there are now so many companies that offer an agent program.

I worked with several over the years.

What sets AAGEX apart from the others I’ve worked with is their team and the day in and day out respect they demonstrate for my agency.

From business support to customer billing and AP, to carrier onboarding, to new driver recruiting and onboarding, to technology systems and support, AAGEX is built the right way.  

Mike Williams has put together an incredible team and system, giving us exactly what AAGEX promised, the tools and support to continue our growth. Thank you to the entire AAGEX team for their support!

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Takeaways From the Transportation & Logistics Council Conference

CHARLESTON / TLC EVENT I’d like to give a shout out to the Transportation & Logistics Council. Their Annual Conference in Charleston, South Carolina, March 18-21 was great.

The 44th edition held up its reputation as a compelling learning forum. It covered a broad range of both practical and technical aspects of freight safety and risk management.

I really enjoyed reconnecting with Bob Voltman, President and CEO at Transportation Intermediaries Association. Bob is a tireless advocate and educator for freight intermediaries in the D.C. swamp.

Overall, the conference attracts attendees that include skilled transportation attorneys, insurance executives, underwriters, adjusters, freight security specialists, including law enforcement officials, freight brokers, and motor carriers.

Sound boring? Mix in the procurement teams from dozens of diverse buyers and sellers of freight, and it will keep you going all day. Along with myself, AAGEX was represented by James Bagwell, our senior vice-president sales.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was in the beautiful city of Charleston. Here are a couple of highlights from the conference:

Overreaching (contract) terms can sink your ship.”

  • It is clear that the experts, mostly attorneys and insurance adjusters, place significant importance on what the transportation and/or insurance contracts actually say regarding a loss event.
    • My take is contract matter and reasonable contract terms allocating appropriate risks should be the goal. Overreaching terms can sink your ship.
  • SensiGuard’s Supply Chain Intelligence Center reports that recorded cargo thefts in the U.S. dropped 15% in 2017 versus 2016.
    • I think the statistic makes sense. Freight distribution has become more regionalized, meaning the carrier is in possession of the freight for shorter periods of time and distance.
  • The Sanitary Food Transportation Act of 2005 and the FDA Food Modernization Act of 2011 are well intended, but carry potentially onerous compliance burdens for brokers.
    • I believe carriers need to step up their game and increase training for their drivers and quality of equipment. Or we’re all in trouble.

CHOPPER / BRAMLETT – How many of you saw my motorcycle picture last week?

We re-posted the 2016 pic in honor of our own Jon Bramlett, vice-president of operations. The chopper actually belongs to him, an avid rider.

My picture represents the only safe way I know how to ride. A couple of weeks ago, Jon laid the chopper down on A1A headed to bike week in Daytona.

Thank God Jon’s injuries were not life-threatening. Big Jon has vowed to get back on and ride again – after his broken leg and ribs heal. In case you missed it, here it is again:

 

RESULTS MATTER – We started AAGEX in mid-2016 with ambitious goals.

As some of you know from your own experiences, starting a new business is a tough climb. It’s even tougher doing it in the highly competitive U.S. freight transportation and logistics markets.

We finished 2017 up 167% over our start-up year. For 2018, our preliminary first-quarter results are up 102% versus last year.  

AAGEX is definitely headed in the right direction as we move forward in our second full year.

Here’s how we’re doing it:

  • We transitioned to a new cloud-based TMS application and development partner.
  • AAGEX refinanced our capital structure, adding financial depth to ensure access to future needs.
  • We added strong sales and operations specialists to our network, representing truckload, less than truckload, expedited, dedicated, and managed yard services.

We expect 2018 to be a solid growth story at AAGEX and hope you see the same for your business, whatever segment it may be. If you’d like to learn more about our company, please contact us with your questions and comments. 

NETWORKING – I don’t know about you, but networking is a tough forum. I’m just not very good at it. Its fight or flight for me.

On March 29, I fought the good fight. I attended the TCJax Membership Drive event at TopGolf in Jacksonville. Pretty good turn out.

It’s always good to see a few familiar faces, like Linda Carrion from Jax Global Cargo, Bill Dorazio from Grimes Companies and Lisa Diaz from JaxPort, while meeting new people. As for the golf itself, I finished dead last in the one game I played, oh well, there’s always next time.

THE CROSSBAR AWARD GOES TO… Wait a second, “the crossbar award?”

AAGEX will announce its first crossbar award recipient for 2018 in June. The AAGEX crossbar award is given to the individual who has best exemplified a commitment to the AAGEX team and brand by his or her performance.

In our business model, corporate priorities and network priorities will occasionally send cross signals, forgetting that we’re all on the same team.

The crossbar of the letter “A“ ensures upright stability and strength. The recipient of this recognition will have demonstrated a deep understanding of service excellence and a team mentality.

Mike Williams, President

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3PLs Keep Investing in Tech as Shipper’s Expectations Grow

3PLs Keep Investing in Tech as Shipper’s Expectations Grow

Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) releases its 2018 Visibility Report, which draws from more than 20 sources. That includes five of the nation’s largest 3PLs, mid-sized brokers, and the logistics units of several top motor carriers.

3PLs are investing heavily in technology to deliver the freight visibility and business intelligence increasingly required by shippers.

That conclusion is one of many in the recently released 2018 Freight Visibility Report from the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA), the organization representing the $185.7 billion third-party logistics industry.

“Visibility is at the forefront of what third-party logistics companies do,” said TIA President and CEO Robert Voltmann. “Among the key points in this report is that 3PLs continue to focus their technology on customer’s visibility needs and that amid an explosion of available data they are capturing the opportunity to deliver business intelligence.”

Advances in visibility technology have created a wide range of perceptions and expectations among shippers, including some that are inaccurate, Voltmann also noted.

“However, 3PLs are making a commitment to provide substantial financial resources to support shipper demand for more sophisticated visibility that enables real-time decisions,” he said.

The 2018 Freight Visibility Report from TIA draws from more than 20 sources. This includes five of the nation’s largest 3PLs, mid-sized brokers, and the logistics units of several top motor carriers.

The report consists of an overview of freight visibility. Including its technological evolution and the complexities attached to perceptions of 3PL visibility activities. It also illustrates how 3PLs are building visibility systems and how they are being refined as data options are growing.

It addresses how the latest developments in logistics, the surging freight market, and the ELD mandate are affecting freight visibility.

Key conclusions of the TIA report include:

  • The array of delivery options that allow 3PLs to customize the data they provide to shippers has expanded and includes everything from complex strategies to proven methods such as electronic data interchange (EDI).
  • As visibility needs accelerate the forces of growing demand, capacity strains from the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, and others have introduced new variables into freight markets.
  • The future challenge will be to find optimal and flexible methods to sustain the substantial advances already made by logistics companies in providing visibility to their customers.

“Increased freight visibility is creating significant value in today’s turbulent business landscape, and 3PLs are answering that need,” Voltmann stated. “Automation, digitization and collection capabilities have brought 3PLs closer than ever to their customer’s information, and the ways they leverage that proximity will determine what visibility means for years to come. Good technology underlies the delivery of relevant information, which in turn informs effective management.”

AGX Logistics TMS system provides direct customer visibility, carrier integration, and interaction.

We also provide a full slate of agent tools integrated seamlessly.  

We are constantly improving the capabilities to save time, speed up order entry, carrier vetting, and onboarding. All of this with the goal of minimizing keystrokes and reasons for leaving the platform to gain valuable data.   

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Customer Goodwill: What Is It Worth To You?

“President’s Corner” is a new content idea we’ll be routinely posting. They are direct thoughts from AAGEX’s President, Mike Williams

President’s Corner

It seems clear that every type of business relies on customers. They build a market reputation from many factors and thereby earn an appropriate measure of “customer goodwill.”

From a merger and acquisitions view, Investopedia defines “goodwill” as an intangible asset.

Meaning the value represented by the quality of the company’s brand name, customer base and relations and employee relations as reflected by the perceived total value of the company in excess of book value and any patents or proprietary technology (paraphrased).

The M&A definition reflects the outcome or result of a company’s efforts. This is typically measured at the time of a sale of the company. Of the same nature but perhaps different, the “goodwill” on my mind is built at the day to day operational level.  

In my view, goodwill is better defined by the actual quality of the customer experience.

This is evident by whether the company carries an earned reputation for professionalism, exceptional service levels, and administrative efficiency. It includes the seamless exchange of transactional records and financial data.

It is not how the company views its customers, but rather, it is how the customers view the company.

In its most practical sense, it boils down to this question. Will the customer return tomorrow if he or she has an expectation for the same service quality received today?

Or measured another way, does the customer experience today drive return business tomorrow? That’s it. Pretty simple, right?

What factors influence how our customers view the quality of their experience with us? Consider these:

  • Our ability to demonstrate the competence to understand the customer’s business and service requirements.
  • The ability to offer/provide services in a clear pricing model.
  • The ability to accurately exchange operations data in real time.
  • Our ability to support efficient administrative engagement.
  • The consistency of our performance on a day in and day out basis.

These among others determine whether a freight customer will come back tomorrow.

Many professionals in the transportation and logistics space can recount years and years of accomplishments. They’ve crossed the span of the entire market, less than truckload, intermodal, truckload, ocean, air, specialized, heavy haul, and even warehousing.

Some prefer to remain highly focused on a single or just a few modes or service lines. Others enjoy the breadth of having all arrows in their quiver.

Regardless whether you sell one, some, or “all of the above” service lines, you know your customer’s businesses. You know what it takes to meet your customer’s service requirements, from both experience and the whiteboard.

You have seen it all. From the challenges of your efforts toward service excellence and probably hurting your head trying to understand how your company’s technology platform can support it all.

When your company asks you to sign some form of a non-disclosure, non-solicitation, and/or a non-compete agreement, you could be trading away your own piece of the goodwill pie.

Imagine that next great job opportunity with a company. They’ve impressed you enough to consider a change, a pay increase, and the path to career growth and success in exchange for your goodwill. What do you do?

What is your goodwill worth? A Paycheck and Bonus? Job security? Benefits? Friends?

At AAGEX Freight Group, our sales professionals own their customer goodwill or “book of business.”

Our business model recognizes the time, sweat, and effort these professionals invest to build customer goodwill. Their relationships follow them for their professionalism, the knowledge of their customer’s businesses, their integrity, and a genuine sense of relationship “goodwill.”

For us, our mission is simple.

We provide a versatile platform and high reputation for finance, risk management/safety and compliance, technology, and transaction processing. Sales and operations specialists can launch and run their business to achieve their greatest success.

All without fear of losing their customer goodwill, because we know it’s the most valuable business asset they own.

Mike Williams, President

 

 

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