Globalization is having a tremendous effect on the entire shipping industry. Customers are increasingly located in areas that once saw very little traffic, and manufacturers continue to establish bases of operation in new locales. The growth trajectory at industry leader England Logistics reflects the needs of this new, far-reaching economy. “I couldn’t have sat here, four years ago, and said we were part of an international presence at all,” says president Jason Beardall.
Today, the team has three offices in China, and a new division has been formed to manage and expand its worldwide activities. Companies are more frequently looking for a strong partner in the global shipping business, and England Logistics has applied its consultative-type approach to provide its customers with the right resources. “It’s now one of our core service sets that we provide to our current customer base and prospective customers,” Beardall says.
Gone are the days when shipping solutions were one-size-fits-all. Instead, today’s companies have specific needs, and they expect that any offering will be tailored to their situation. “Through our key core service sets, we can customize a transportation solution for each opportunity that ensures palatable price points, serviceability, and capacity,” Beardall says. It’s one of the keys to England Logistics’ top-tier status as a preferred shipping vendor, and something that has helped the company weather the economic instability of the past several years.
Another practice that’s less workable in the current business climate is year-round pricing, which Beardall says is difficult to forecast and maintain as a result of the oftentimes intense volatility in the marketplace. To provide customers with the best combination of service and price, England Logistics now takes a “right-now” approach, Beardall says. “Every 120 days, we review customers’ serviceability, capacity, communications, key performance indicators, and rate adjustments.” This incorporates current market conditions and capacities into the equation, giving customers pricing and serviceability that are not compromised and meet their most up-to-date needs.
A strong focus on long-term client relationships—coupled with the flexibility to support one-off requests—has provided England Logistics with a robust network of ongoing accounts. It’s an approach that Beardall says is gaining traction in the industry. “I think a lot of the astute 3PL [third-party logistics] and trucking companies are adopting the type of approach that we currently utilize,” he says.
Spot business may be lucrative, but it’s here today and gone tomorrow. England Logistics runs at about 60 percent contractual business and 40 percent spot business. “I like that healthy dynamic,” Beardall says. “Spot business is good business, but contractual business allows us to count on the business today, tomorrow, next month, and next year—and to create a carrier network for our customers that is reliable and consistent.”
It’s a structure that also allows customers to leverage a better budget process for their transportation needs. For those smaller companies that don’t have shipping on their plate every day, they can continue to manage needs as they arise. But Beardall says that customers are increasingly adopting a philosophy that supports sustained contractual business, which gives them greater control, better pricing, and a more stable relationship with their shipping vendor. “I think organizations that are intuitively involved in growing their business, and those that exceed certain volumes during most months, they certainly want that,” he says.
Customer-focused companies are also great members of the community, and when that holistic approach is backed up by concrete actions, people start to notice. The proof is in the pudding at England Logistics, where the accolades are piling up. It received the 2012 Transportation Intermediaries Association 3PL Samaritan Award, which “recognizes a member for exceptional service and assistance to others in need.” England Logistics’ charitable donations were among the factors that garnered them the award. “We donated a number of service hours and over $500,000 to local charitable groups,” Beardall says.
England Logistics is also active on the sustainability front, and its efforts landed it a spot on the Food Logistics Top Green Providers list for 2012. Green initiatives are often difficult to implement and take a while to filter through the network, because changes must be made at the carrier level, which takes time and requires effort from a wide range of network partners. But those challenges haven’t stopped England Logistics from seeking opportunities on every side of the spectrum. “We’re exploring different areas and different ideas to ensure that we can preserve the environment we have today,” Beardall says.