Today’s post is part of our “Making a Difference: Supply Chains for a Better Tomorrow” series that focuses on the supply chain capabilities that will separate the leaders from the laggards in the years to come. This episode features Greg Ackner, VP at Capital Logistics, Jay Gustafson, SVP of Marketplace Solutions at Echo Global Logistics, and Dan Cicerchi, Vice President and General Manager Transportation Management at Descartes. In keeping with the “Making a Difference” theme, we have made a donation to American Logistics Aid Network.
Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about the importance of agility, flexibility, and responsiveness in supply chain management. These capabilities are even more critical today as companies try to navigate through this COVID-19 crisis, and in many cases, they’re relying on their logistics partners to help them.
“We work heavily in the food and beverage industry, which has experienced big spikes in demand, especially in the early days of the quarantine,” says Greg Ackner, VP at Capital Logistics. “For example, we work with a large national grocery retailer. We were delivering 2-3 truckloads of milk per week to their distribution center on the East Coast, then all of a sudden, it turned into 40-45 truckloads per week. Having the technology in place [Aljex and Macropoint] to respond rapidly to that change, and getting the word out to our business partners and working with them to support this client, was a very big help.”
Greg added that “with our people working from home, using cloud-based systems made it a lot simpler” to adapt to this change. He also highlighted Capital Logistics’ participation in the Million Gallons Challenge, a project launched in Peekskill, New York, to bring the restaurant industry together to help feed those in need. Capital Logistics, along with its partner Conri Services of Hawthorne, NY, volunteered a solution for refrigerated shipping and storage to support the program’s distribution needs.
In Echo Global Logistics’ case, “we also saw a surge in demand across the grocery industry and other segments of consumer goods,” explained Jay Gustafson, SVP of Marketplace Solutions at Echo Global Logistics. “There were a lot of moving parts in that mid-March time frame [including keeping employees safe and setting them up to work from home quickly], and our ability to be flexible and act with a sense of urgency to keep our employees, our carriers, and our clients all top of mind really made me proud as a leader at Echo.”
“As I look back over the past two months, very few industries or clients have been operating in a ‘business-as-usual’ environment,” added Jay. “Our clients have experienced shifts in demand patterns, both from a geographical standpoint where we’ve had to pivot and reposition equipment to help them with surges in volumes out of certain areas of the country, and we’ve also seen clients pivot their business models to accommodate the new reality of this pandemic.”
Jay highlighted two customer examples: EverBlock Systems, a manufacturer and provider of modular building systems, that is providing thousands of modular wall panels and life-size building blocks to build a temporary pop-up hospital facility in the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans; and Blinking Owl Distillery, a craft distillery in Orange County, CA, that has completely revamped its operations to produce thousands of bottles of antiseptic to help those in need.
“Companies like Echo and Capital are market innovators, so they’re prepared for these types of disruptions,” says Dan Cicerchi, Vice President and General Manager Transportation Management at Descartes (a Talking Logistics sponsor). “We see the long tail of brokers in this space who are moving from fear to focus. They’re asking ‘what do we need to do to continue to improve?’ and some of it is around business model changes and some of it is around technical agility like being cloud enabled.”
“Given the current softness in the transportation market, our broker customers are coming to us saying that they want to improve the relationships they have with their carrier partners,” added Dan. “By having better data, they can have better and smarter conversations with their carrier partners and ultimately move from transactions to relationship-based conversations with them. Operationally, it’s about giving their teams the tools and innovations to enable them to spend less time in the trenches [conducting transactions] and more time focused on strengthening relationships with their customers and carrier partners.”
What does building “a supply chain for a better tomorrow” mean for Capital Logistics and Echo Global Logistics? What supply chain capabilities are they adding or strengthening to not only help them navigate through this current crisis, but also position themselves for success in the years to come? I encourage you to watch the episode for all the details on those questions and more. Then post a question or comment and share your perspective!