Supply-chain disruptions have had wide-ranging impacts across industries, and logistics brokerages are no exception.
David Joiner, vice president of strategic capacity services for Dupré Logistics, recently discussed the changes he’s seen over the last few years, including shifting customer preferences, and how technology is helping to reshape the commercial vehicle industry—and the resulting opportunities that have emerged for well-rounded businesses.
The following LinkedIn interview with Joiner is edited and re-used here with permission from Dupré:
There have been many companies that have decided to work with a preferred third-party logistics provider to gain consistency in processes and technology, where working with a variety of smaller operations lack. But as supply chain issues are front and center in the news, are companies changing how they work?
Joiner weighs in on what he has observed in the transportation brokerage world and what may lie ahead.
Dupré: How have you seen brokerages impacted by COVID or changes in the industry over the last few years? Is the new environment going to weed out smaller firms?
DJ: Production was down for almost everyone at some point with supply issues or because they had delays from overseas. We would notice some areas where the number of loads was down, or there would be empty containers waiting to go back. A lot of small companies went out of business, but we have seen new and expanded opportunities during this same time. Because we have specialized services like heavy haul, flatbed, bulk and tanker, and hazmat, in addition to traditional freight, it helps us stay busy. Since we have assets, as well as our brokerage arm, that is an advantage we offer as well.
The last few years really gave us a chance to showcase our employees’ and drivers’ talents and become a trusted partner during a period of increased complications to get freight delivered. There is a significant cost for our customers in not having their products on the shelves. With all the supply-chain issues, there has been an added sense of urgency to get product moved. Our customers rely on us to make it happen so their brand recognition doesn’t suffer from not being on the shelf when their customer is shopping.
Dupré: How is software or artificial intelligence changing our industry?
DJ: Sometimes people may be implementing technology for technology’s sake. We implement it when it can improve our processes and add real value. However, having the right tools also must be backed by the right people and training. While technology helps us streamline processes and load matching, people still are critical. A person with industry experience and training can best help customers and improve efficiency. A highly trained employee can ask better questions, provide real-time support, and make a big difference in the overall customer experience.
Dupré: With production and price increases, what do you see in the future for commercial trucks and carriers?
DJ: Autonomous and electronic vehicles are coming. However, they are a long way out due to our infrastructure and the high cost of entry. Much of the capacity in the industry comes from small carriers who are unable to afford the technology. Their biggest costs have been increases in fuel, insurance, and maintenance. In addition to our brokerage services, Dupré has the advantage of operating a large fleet of our own assets, which provides purchasing leverage in the market. We are working with several of our small- and medium-sized carriers to allow them to share that leverage when possible and to drive out costs. We are always looking for ways to improve our partnerships with our customers and carriers.
That’s what success in this industry looks like—working together, doing the right thing, and being willing to adapt to changing times.