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3PLBest PracticesCarrier ManagerCustomer ServiceGPSintermodalThird-Party LogisticsTransportationTruckingUncategorized

  Shippers continue to experience the “spot market blues.” According to DAT Solutions, the average spot rate for trucking was 2.15 per mile at the end of March. The natural disasters occurring in the last half of 2017 merged with the ELD Mandate and the continuing driver shortage to send spot markets through the roof. You see, capacity isn’t coming back any time soon. Here at AM Transport, customers are top priority; that’s why we believe in cultivating great logistics partnerships! How can partnering with a 3PL help shippers navigate a volatile freight market? Let’s take a look. Right now, drivers are frustrated by the ELD Mandate because by eliminating paper logs, it forces compliance with HOS rules. We believe that the April 1 hard enforcement of the mandate is going to force shippers to change they way they do business.  Transport Topics’ Eric Miller reports that at a recent MATS (Mid-America Trucking Show) in Louisville, KY, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief, Ray Martinez told drivers frustrated with the mandate that when they wait at loading docks inefficiency is created in the economy. That inefficiency is bound to drive freight rates up. Both Martinez and drivers agreed that while HOS rules affect drivers, there’s no equivalent mandate forcing shippers to conform to strict time windows.   Furthermore, the driver shortage will continue squeezing capacity until the industry finds ways to mitigate the negative aspects of the driving life--lack of exercise, healthy food options, disrupted sleep cycles. In the same issue of Transport Topics, Miller reports that truck drivers, as a group, have a “50% higher rate of Type 2 Diabetes than the national average.” There’s a lot of work to be done before we begin to see an ease in the driver shortage. However, with many good people researching and working on this problem, we fully expect innovative solutions—check out ATRI’s (American Transportation Research Institute) Young Driver Assessment Tool for an example of industry innovation. How can good partnerships with 3PLs mitigate these problems? Did you know that most small carriers still receive their freight from direct interaction with shippers instead of load boards and brokerages? That’s what a recent survey developed by CarrierLists and Freightwaves indicates. Here’s what we know--good brokers have relationships not only with shippers but with carriers. Shippers looking for solutions could benefit from these relationships. And what about contract rates? We understand a shipper’s reticence to lock in contract rates; after all, according to our friends at Freightwaves, those rates have increased up to 10%. However, brokers with their wide variety of carrier relationships, can often lock in affordable contract rates that even out a shipper’s freight spend. In the coming months, savvy shippers will shift their strategy from last-minute bids to long-term solutions. And the best way to do this is to cultivate relationships with freight partners you can trust. At AM Transport, we have 30 years of experience partnering with shippers and carriers. With over 10,000 approved carriers, we are positioned to find the best solution for your freight. We understand the worry skyrocketing rates cause, not to mention, the impact they have on your bottom line. When you work with us, we get to know you and your business. We ask questions, analyze your supply chain, and create solutions. We know logistics and we want to take the worry out of transportation so you can get back to doing what you do best.    ...
3PLBest PracticesCommunityCustomer ServiceIndustry NewsLeadershipThird-Party LogisticsTransportationTruckingUncategorized

By Michael McKinney, CTB   This week, I was notified that AM Transport received a longevity award from the TIA (Transportation Intermediaries Association) for 25 years of continuous membership since 1993. I have to admit, it’s pretty cool to be recognized, and it’s hard for me to believe it’s been that long. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. The recognition comes at a great time. You see, I’m getting ready to attend the 2018 TIA Conference in Palm Desert, California. It’s TIA’s 40th conference, and I’m guesstimating that it’s my 15th or 16th, but to be honest, I’m just not sure how many I’ve attended. Like all great experiences, these conferences have become one long good memory I reflect upon often. Did you know that the TIA Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition remains the only conference solely for 3PLs? AM Transport has been in the brokerage business for nearly 30 years, and this conference is always one of the highlights of my year because spending time with other brokers rejuvenates my passion for the industry. I could give you lots of reasons for why I attend--I like traveling to new places, meeting new people, and catching up with old industry friends. But there’s so much more to the TIA conference. The energy is palpable when industry leaders mingle, when ideas fly over the dinner table, when newcomers walk into the trade show for the first time!     Let’s talk about the membership. TIA members share ideas. It’s surprising, really, how willing members are to share best practices, tools of the trade, risk issues and their unique take on the industry. It might seem counterintuitive--competitors coming together to help one another. In fact, I’ve heard first-timers express real disbelief at how willing everyone is to share! I always head to the TIA conference with a list of challenges we face, as well as, thoughts I’d like feedback on and questions about industry tools/services. And of course, I like to share too. I’ve learned so much from others in my career, that I’m determined to give back when I can!   Education is another biggie. If you want to learn and grow knowledge, the TIA conference is the venue for you! Industry experts offer educational sessions on a deep and wide range of topics from Sales & Marketing to Technology and Risk Management; from Legal Concerns to Regulations and Capacity Sourcing. Whatever your interests might be, there’s a session for you because the list also includes: Compensation and Personnel, Finance, Change Management, Data Analytics, and so much more.   And let’s not forget the amazing trade show. The TIA trade show is the place to find out what’s new, upcoming, and cutting-edge in the industry. It’s where we go to review and learn about services and tools to boost productivity and efficiency. TMS solutions, visibility and tracking, compliance, insurance, payment solutions, LTL, rail, it’s all there.   I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I like a challenge, and that’s another reason I don’t miss out on the annual TIA conference. Each year, I attend to see and hear what other companies are doing--growth they’re experiencing, new solutions they’ve created, staff development they offer. When you’re hanging with the best in the industry, you can’t help but catch the energy and the desire to do better.  It reminds me of what motivational speaker, Jim Rohn, famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Come to think of it, Goethe’s maxim might be more appropriate, “Tell me with whom you consort and I will tell you who you are.” If it sounds like I’m looking forward to the TIA conference, then I’ve done my job. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t end with the one aspect of the conference that I simply can’t do without. It’s friendship. Over the years, I’ve met some awesome people who turned out to be good friends. This annual conference, is often the only time of the year I see them in person.  Sure, we talk on the phone, but you can’t beat talking in person, catching up on work and life. After all, breaking bread together and relaxing in the company of others who understand is a big part of who we are at TIA.  ...
Best PracticesCommunityCustomer ServiceProductivityShippersThird-Party LogisticsTransportationUncategorized

By Michael McKinney, CTB   “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.” --Peter Drucker, Founder of the Drucker Institute   Why would a shipper work with a small company like AM Transport? It’s a valid question; after all, we compete with multibillion dollar behemoths who have vast financial resources, dirt cheap pricing, the latest gadgetry, and seemingly endless hiring budgets. You might even think the behemoths hold all the advantages. But you’d be wrong. You see, when I have the opportunity to talk about the benefits AM Transport offers, I always come back to our great culture. Culture? Really? Sure, the hardline skeptics will tell you culture isn’t a benefit--that culture is too vague and intangible to be measured or defended. I argue otherwise because the effect culture has is real; I’ve experienced it.  In fact, I believe a company’s culture is perhaps the most telling indicator of the value they bring to the table.   “Who we are matters more than what we know or who we want to be.” --Brene Brown, Author of Daring Greatly--   The other day I had coffee with Connor, one of our long-time team members and posed this question, “What makes us different from our competition?” Connor paused, raised his eyebrows, and looked at me. I could tell he wondered if the question was a trick. I’m pretty sure he thought the answer was simple, so what the heck was I getting at? After a second, he said, “When a customer calls AM Transport, they know they’ll get someone on the phone who knows them.  They know when they call or email they’ll get a quick response. Customers know we care about their business and are committed to getting the job done.  That we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days/week. They know we have highly talented and trained people and low turnover. That we’re high energy and eager to serve because we have a great team and atmosphere.”   He went on but I think you get the point.  Connor was talking about culture!   “A hallmark of a healthy, creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candour, if unchecked ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.” --Ed Catmull, Co-Founder of Pixar Animation Studios and President of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios-- It all starts with culture! You see, the right culture breeds a team that cares about each other, their customers and their carriers.   So, let’s break this down a bit. How does the culture at AM Transport translate into real, tangible benefits for our customers? We’re a happy bunch! What’s happy got to do with it--come on, we’re talking about business? Quite a lot if you look at the research. Over at The Happy Manifesto, Elinor Schmitz-Jansen breaks it down. She claims that happy people are more creative, accurate and have better analytical skills. Furthermore, she highlights how happy people handle adversity with aplomb, take fewer sick days, and are better negotiators. Research indicates that happier people are more productive and provide better service! Finally, happy people stay!   If we look at the happiness factor a little more closely, you’ll see why culture is important. Everyone’s talking about creativity these days, but is creativity really a big deal? After all, we’re here to move freight, not write poems. Let me assure you, the importance of creative thinking cannot be overvalued. A culture promoting creativity promotes innovative ideas and quick decision making. Our team members have the autonomy and authority to make on-the-spot decisions for the customer!   We all know that in the transportation industry, adversity is the name of the game. Our team members aren’t afraid of adversity. They are great problem solvers. Sure, we enjoy those difficulty-free shipments that go off without a hitch, but we don’t shy away from challenges. In fact, we thrive on finding solutions!   We pride ourselves on our excellent customer service. We care about our customers and get to know them. But we also know and have great relationships with folks all along the supply chain--logistics managers, warehouse personnel, consignees, and over 10,000 carriers. Our ability to cultivate relationships translates into great customer service all the way around.   Let’s talk about retention for a minute. All the research shows that a good company culture means people stick around. Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly  says that human beings are hardwired for belonging. If you belong, you stay. People who stick around have more experience, more know-how, more relationships, more skills.   “Company Culture is the product of a company’s values, expectations and environment.” --Courtney Chapman, Product Manager, Rubicon Project--   Here’s the deal--culture matters. It matters a lot. If you’re not convinced--think about this for a minute. The big guys promote a culture of competitiveness among and between their employees who are always looking at the bottom line and concentrated on the top dollar--for themselves. They have to--it’s the nature of the beast when you’re looking out for number one. Instead of working together, employees compete--your freight is just a vehicle, if you will, for someone else’s drive to the top.   At AM Transport, we work together. Always. We truly believe that who we are makes everything we do better. ...
3PLCarrier ManagerIndustry NewsShippersThird-Party LogisticsUncategorized

Carriers are purchasing new trucks at record levels. According to the Wall Street Journal, heavy-duty truck orders hit a whopping 48,700—twice as many during the same time frame last year. Some industry people believe this might loosen the crunch of tight capacity. But is capacity coming back to the market? A recent article from Craig Fuller over at Freightwaves suggests that the uptick in big rig and trailer orders does not indicate capacity flooding the market. Fuller explains that prices on used trucks aren’t firming and that there haven’t been enough new labor hires in the trucking industry to offset the continuing driver shortage and the deficits created by the ELD Mandate. So what’s happening? Here at AM Transport, we’ve seen this before. Historically, when carriers are enjoying good margins, they hope to multiply those margins into larger financial successes by investing in more trucks to grow their fleets. Typically what happens is the load-to-truck ratio shifts, creating a more favorable climate for shippers. It’s a cycle. But times have changed, and due to many factors such as eCommerce, tighter regulations, and advanced technologies, we believe this cycle might be gone for good. And it’s definitely not what’s happening today. We’ve been keeping track of the data, and while it could indicate a flattening of capacity we believe it paints a different picture. In fact, we think the data shows carriers will be spending money proactively in a dynamic and changing market. Here’s the evidence: The surge in trailer purchases is a smart hedge against the difficulties in drive-time created by the ELD Mandate. A drop trailer pool is an excellent solution to HOS rules and the tracking of drive time. Arranging a drop trailer minimizes a driver’s nondriving time. We believe shippers will impose drop trailer requirements on vendors, and carriers who don’t position themselves with trailers will lose out.     The driver shortage continues. Carriers may use excess cash to purchase new equipment but they’ll have a tough time filling seats due. Carriers must invest money in technology and other previously nonessential areas—amenities such as comfortable seats, rest quarters, and access to fitness equipment—in order to retain and help recruit new drivers.     Carriers are top-grading equipment to remove inefficiencies.  Those who use this as an opportunity to incorporate better technology into their fleets will win in the long run vs though who are just simply trading older for newer equipment.  ELDs come in all shapes and sizes, but Carriers who understand their business hinges on these devices will not only invest in physical equipment but also in the necessary education.   The past year has been one of upheaval in the trucking industry with several natural disasters, a burgeoning driver shortage, and the implementation of the ELD Mandate and new regulations which goes into full effect on April 1. Carriers are responding to these changes in confident and interesting ways. While many predict that Carrier investments point to an ease in the capacity crunch, we don’t see it. We believe capacity will continue to be tight for a while that’s why we keep our eyes on the trends and continue to analyze the data. Information and communication help our customers make smart and cost-efficient decisions for their freight.  ...
3PLBest PracticesCustomer ServiceGPSInnovationProductivityTechnologyUncategorized

Say Hello to the Future! How well do you know your broker? Is their website transparent and interactive? Can you pull it up on your mobile phone? What kind of Transportation Management System (TMS) do they use? They do have a TMS, right? Do they utilize a portal where you can access tracking, payments, experts, information? There’s no such thing as too much information. Your broker should be your one-stop shop for everything freight-related. If not, then you aren’t getting your money’s worth. In January, the folks over at FreightWaves deemed 2018 as “the beginning of the end for the voice broker”--claiming “Voice brokers are a dime a dozen, and their days are numbered. Over the next year, companies that lack technology are doomed.” When we say voice broker, we are referring to the traditional old-time freight-broker, the guy or gal who books loads from a spare room in their three-bedroom ranch, using the bare minimum--a phone, a load board, email, and a personal relationship with carriers and shippers. Here at AM Transport, we know those personal relationships are important. But we saw the writing on the wall a long time ago. That’s why we complemented our exceptional customer service with a heavy investment in the newest technologies. We’ve worked hard to integrate the best efficiency-boosting technologies in order to streamline and optimize our client’s experience. How do we do that? Cloud Technology We can find and facilitate capacity easier because we leverage cloud technology and consider our Carrier sales as important as our Customer sales. Price Discovery We utilize multiple sources of industry rate benchmarking data as well as our own data to predict the current market rate of a shipment. This allows us to offer competitive rates to both shippers and carriers. Payment Settlement We offer innovative solutions that enable carriers to submit their shipment paperwork quicker and easier to us in order to get paid faster. Online Portal We offer a robust online portal that allows a customer visibility into their supply chain including dashboard views, KPIs, and custom reporting. People Of course, no great company works without people. Here at AM Transport, we’re special because we just flat-out have the best people. Men and women who are empowered every single day to make ethical decisions. Folks who leave work in the evening as energized as when they arrived in the morning because they love their jobs. Our people gives us and you an unparalleled benefit! Take a minute and ask yourself--Is my logistics provider a voice broker? If the answer is yes, give us a call! The truth is whether you are a carrier or a shipper, times are changing, and here at AM Transport we believe change is a great catalyst. We know that the best relationships are built on excellent customer service rooted in a passion to implement new and exciting technologies that keep our customers competitive. Remember, you deserve more than a voice on a phone!...
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It’s your typical Friday night after a long week of work and Chad Martin and Jesse Baker are both at the gym. No, it’s not that kind of gym. These guys could be celebrating the start of the weekend by doing something for themselves, but they’re not. Instead, both twentysomethings are spending their Friday evening coaching JR High basketball games at St. Joseph School. Jesse is the head coach of the 6th-grade girls’ basketball team while Chad is the head coach of the 4th and 5th-grade boys’ basketball team and the assistant coach of the 6th-grade team. How did this happen? Well, it’s quite simple. Chad and Jesse are both competitive, love basketball and wanted to give back to the community where they were raised. Chad has always been drawn to coaching and figured he would give it a shot when the opportunity presented itself. Jesse’s competitive juices started flowing when he was asked about coaching. He thought it sounded like a good challenge for himself. Both guys have taken away quite a bit from the process so far. According to Chad, “Coaching is a lot harder than it looks, but it’s very rewarding. Especially once you start to see the kids working together and winning games, and having fun while doing it.” Jesse echoed these sentiments. “I’ve learned that after a tough loss when coaching young girls, expect there to be a lot of tears,” he said. “When you take time with the kids and try to be helpful, they respond well and improve both individually and as a team.” Not only have Jesse and Chad learned a lot, they also really enjoy coaching the kids and watching them improve during the basketball season. “I’ve particularly enjoyed seeing the girl’s improvements in terms of skillset and competitiveness,” Jesse said. Chad’s thoughts were similar, as he said, “The most enjoyable part is seeing the kids improve. Everyone has improved in some way and it definitely shows. A lot of our players have gained more confidence in games this year which has helped a lot.” Here at A.M. Transport, we have four key values that Chad and Jesse are actively exhibiting through their actions: 1. Integrity 2. Commitment 3. Consistency 4. Community Both guys chose to step out of their comfort zone and are displaying a quality of leadership that we all strive to achieve—and they’re having a blast while doing it! And the best part of it all is they want to do it again next year!...
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The Future of Freight and Where Freight Brokers Fit In The freight brokerage industry has been a foundational piece of the transportation landscape for decades, with widespread growth experienced in the vertical over the last several years. Successful freight brokerage operations allow both the customer and the carrier to increase bandwidth through a myriad of value-added services that are designed to streamline the process. As a vital factor in connecting the supply and demand sides of the shipping business, freight brokerages generated an estimated $40 billion in revenue last year – an impressive number slated to grow in the upcoming year. Although freight brokers have shown their worth in years past, the shifting environment of freight has some concerned about the viability of brokerage operations into the future. Moving toward a Digital Approach Over the last two years, a flurry of activity has taken place in the venture capitalist arena focused on freight brokerage operations. Major players in technology have used their ample resources to quickly join the ranks of companies designing and delivering virtual connection services between customers and carriers, due in part to the opportunities freight brokers have in the marketplace. While there has consistently been a great deal of competition in the industry, with more than 15,000 registered freight brokers nationwide, behemoth corporations entering the mix shows clear signs of disruption. These additions to the freight broker environment are hyper-focused on creating and implementing services with technology at the helm. This move toward a digital, more automated approach in freight operations is attributed to the technological advancements in several silos of transportation. From self-driving trucks to help lower costs and improve efficiencies, to highly predictive freight and shipping analytic software that taps the power of big data, the digital disruption coming to the freight industry is intended to make customers and carriers less dependent on third-party intermediaries. However, there are challenges inherent to distributing new technologies on a grand scale, including slow adoption and the capital needed to replace or supplement legacy systems already in place. Even with these known obstacles, large technology companies are in the freight industry to stay. Preparing for the Future The digital disruption sweeping over the freight and transportation industry is not something that should be taken lightly by freight brokers, no matter their location, niche, or percent of market share. But adapting to the revolution taking place – and continuing successful operations as a freight broker – is a real possibility for those who take proactive steps. One of the most critical components of adding value to customers and carriers in the ever-changing freight environment is embracing the technology currently available to brokers. There are countless solutions for managing the freight process, which work in various ways to save time, reduce hassles, improve communication, and offer invaluable data which can be used to benefit broker operations on a large scale. Finding the best-fit solution that not only improves processes in-house but also adds value to customers and carriers is a necessity in today’s evolving freight market. In addition to grabbing hold of the digital wave, freight brokers can prepare for the changing landscape of the freight industry by strengthening relationships with current partners and customers. The human touch aspect of the freight broker business is something that cannot be replaced by technology, no matter how far it comes or how cost-effective it may be. Business relationships can be proactively insulated from digital disruption by simply checking in with customers and carriers periodically, asking what can be done better or differently, and then following through with feasible suggestions. While there is no stopping the influx of competition and digital disruption coming to the freight industry, freight brokers can view these changes as prime opportunities. Now is the time to update systems and processes, strengthen customer relationships, and ultimately, lay the groundwork for business growth in the years to come....
CommunityOffice EnvironmentUncategorized

Written by Jordan Pottorff, CTB Monday marked the first total solar eclipse that was visible from coast-to-coast across the contiguous United States since 1918, and to say people were excited for it would be the understatement of the year. The national media covered the eclipse for what seemed like the entire day, social media was buzzing with eclipse-related posts, and people came in droves to areas of totality to witness the rare natural phenomenon. Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL, was the epicenter of the event and the town expected an influx of over 45,000 people for the viewing of the eclipse. Surrounding towns, national parks and roadways also saw increased traffic as southern Illinois became one of the most prominent places in the country for the day. With us being based in Olney, which is a small town in southeastern Illinois and just a couple hours away from Carbondale, we had the privilege of seeing nearly 98% totality at our peak time of 1:22 pm. We did what millions of others did across the country by purchasing our official eclipse glasses and celebrating with moon-themed foods while stepping outside to catch glimpses from time to time. Despite it being an overcast day, the hours and minutes leading up to our peak viewing time looked promising but as it got closer to 1:22 dark clouds started to form over our office and eventually ended up blocking the eclipse completely when it mattered most. We did get to witness the sky change to what it would look like in the early evening and confused cicadas began to chirp, but to summarize it briefly; it was a letdown. Our viewing area and the forecast leading up to Monday made it seem like we were in for a treat, and although it was still a cool event to witness, the hype didn’t materialize. What we had all hoped to see was blocked by a dark cloud. It was your typical “Aww, shucks” moment. I’m sure you can point to several moments in your life where the hype of an event didn’t materialize and you really had no choice but to accept it and make the best of the situation. A dark cloud put a damper on our day but I learned this morning that Olney will be in complete totality when the next total solar eclipse dawns on us on April 8, 2024. You can bet the nation will be watching again, and for our sake let’s hope it’s a cloudless day....
3PLSalesSelf ImprovementUncategorized

By Jordan Pottorff, CTB Today marks two years since I joined the AM Transport team. It’s been a wild two years - both personally and professionally – but there’s something about AM Transport that makes me eager to come to work. First, you have to understand the culture AM Transport has worked to create. We have a great group of people who genuinely like each other, we do a lot of fun stuff as a team and in our community, we have a variety of great music playing throughout the day, and we care about what we do. I know all of this having now spent two years with the company, but I accepted the job offer to join AM Transport with relatively no knowledge of the transportation industry or the company as a whole. I was a sports writer by craft before moving back to my hometown of Olney, and despite knowing of AM Transport’s existence since I was a kid, it was a blind leap into a new career. Since June 15, 2015, I’ve learned more about the transportation industry than I can wrap my brain around. I walked in the doors for the first time not knowing the difference between a dry van and a reefer, let alone what it took to book a load, and now feel comfortable talking about the upcoming ELD mandate, technology trends, customer & carrier expectations, our service offerings and more in this ever-changing industry. A few weeks of in-depth training got me to the point where I could fly solo - albeit with training wheels and countless questions to a handful of experienced coworkers - and start down a two-year road that had me spending nine months as a carrier manager before joining the sales team last Spring. The nine months spent as a carrier manager laid the foundation of my knowledge in the transportation industry and gave me a good idea of what it takes to be a valued partner in this industry. There were highs and lows that seemed to change by the hour on any given day, but I found being consistent and level-headed was usually the answer no matter which way the pendulum swung that day. When I decided to take on the opportunity to move to the sales side of the business, I had very limited experience in sales but knew I was excited to get started. Since joining the sales team, it’s been anything but easy. There are countless obstacles to overcome as a broker looking for freight in an unfavorable market but that’s where consistency truly is key. I remember landing my first customer relatively quickly and thinking it would continue from there. Like any worthwhile endeavor, I hit a wall and the frustration followed shortly after as the common rejections – “we don’t work with brokers”, “we have an annual bid, call back at the end of the year”, “you’re pricing isn’t competitive”, “we have our own trucks” – came in tenfold, and that doesn’t even mention the hundreds of voicemails that are commonplace in this position. I’d be lying if I said the rejections didn’t wear me down but that’s where the consistency and remaining level-headed became so important for future successes. I, along with Rob, Jason & Heath, knew a change was needed in our approach to land new business, and like the future of this ever-changing industry, we’ve leaned on technology to get over some hurdles. Now it obviously takes more than investing in good technology to see more victories in the sales world but it gave us an advantage that has led to more of a niche in the transportation world as we continue to develop our targeted approach to add new customers. The past two years have flown by. It took a little bit of time to feel completely comfortable in my new position, but the culture and passion the company and my coworkers' display have me 100% confident a bright future exists for both myself and AM Transport as a whole. Onward and upward!...