The customer manufactures seating, décor and millwork —including custom projects — for many well-known restaurant chains and local establishments across the United States. Located in Oklahoma, the manufacturer was established in the 1980s as a small family business and continues to design and manufacture a variety of product types under one roof.
Due to a variety of challenges specific to their business — including the need for hard-to-find specialty trailers and having a unique address that could cause problems with GPS — the custom manufacturer was having a hard time finding suitable capacity and dealing with numerous delays in their shipping schedules.
The company needed a transportation partner that understood the unique transport requirements of their products. The partner also needed to consistently find the right equipment to move inventories safely and affordably. Above all, they needed a service-oriented partner willing to listen to their needs and take the extra steps needed to ensure smooth and timely pickups without delays.
At the onset of their relationship with ATS Logistics in July 2016, shipping challenges were at their peak for the company. They often found themselves needing a truck quickly — in some cases within a few hours — even on weekends.
“We didn’t know the information from the general contractor,” said Controller, Vernon S., of the custom manufacturer. “Often, we wouldn’t know until 10 a.m. one day if we needed a truck by 5 p.m., so getting quotes between 10 a.m. and noon was common and a lot of carriers required 12-24 hours advance notice.”
The company’s supply chain process also required a truck to be available for loading at a specific time. Oftentimes, trucks were staged at a given time but would have to wait for several hours until shipments were ready to be loaded. While many Drivers were ready to leave after waiting for an extended period of time, ATS Logistics was able to convince them to stay. This was made possible through their strong carrier partnerships and open communication with all parties involved. They also continued to learn from this and planned accordingly for potential wait times in the future. Presenting obvious challenges to other carriers, many became unwilling to move the company’s freight, but ATS Logistics stood by their side.
The ATS Logistics solution to streamlining information sharing and process improvement was simple — ensuring proper communication upfront. Every load offer that goes out, to this day, includes detailed delivery, load and route-specific notes. The first of which is a note providing explicit instructions on how to enter the company’s pickup address into GPS properly for seamless navigation to their facility. Second, a note that specifically calls out detailed securement and equipment requirements for their freight — including absolutely no reefers — and what the Drivers should be prepared for. Those changes to the load offer sheet allowed the company to quickly move from lost and damaged deliveries to consistently safe, on-time deliveries.
To address rising costs associated with securing the specialized and, therefore, elusive lift-gate trailers the manufacturer ideally needed for their shipments, they turned to the massive carrier base within the ATS Logistics network. ATS Logistics’ relationship with thousands of carefully vetted carriers provides access to a larger number of lift gate trailers spread throughout North America, reducing the time it takes to get one to the company’s pickup location.
But it was an innovative solution suggested by the ATS Logistics team that made the biggest difference of all for the seating manufacturer.
The ATS Logistics Operations Team partners with towing companies nationwide for access to their wreckers for various purposes. Working with the manufacturer, ATS Logistics developed a solution that allows the company’s shipments to be loaded onto standard dry van trailers — which are much easier to access, meaning they’re more affordable. Upon delivery, they utilize local towing companies in their shipment areas to safely unload — essentially emulating the service of a lift gate trailer at a fraction of the cost. With towing services located in nearly every city around the country, response time is quick and capacity is much easier to find than a lift gate trailer. This provided the flexibility the custom manufacturer required.
Vernon estimates this solution saves his employer roughly $200-$250 per load requiring a lift gate. In 2019, ATS Logistics managed nearly 400 loads for the manufacturer. While not every load required a lift gate, it’s safe to say the company has saved tens of thousands of dollars with ATS Logistics.
Cost savings realized through process changes and an innovative solution were just the beginning in the partnership between the manufacturer and ATS Logistics. By doubling down on pre-shipment preparation and vetting shipment details, the efficiencies go even further for the company.
They often get load details directly from their customers, which are then passed along to the carrier. Prior to ATS Logistics, most carriers ran with the information provided. That led to offload timing discrepancies or onsite equipment requirement miscommunications — resulting in unnecessary costs. By proactively contacting the worksite foreman to confirm delivery windows and equipment needs before the load is dispatched, ATS Logistics has been able to substantially improve load completion success rates and keep costs down.
While many carriers simply said no to the manufacturer, ATS Logistics found ways to say yes — even through the early challenges. ATS Logistics’ representatives were available at all hours of the night.
“Not a lot of people were willing to work with us when I started in August ,” said Tammy M., Chief Financial Officer with the manufacturer. “ATS made such a difference in helping turn this company around. I can’t say that about a lot of vendors.”
Leveraging the trusted relationships they have with their nationwide network of carriers, ATS Logistics was able to keep waiting Drivers on their loads, ensuring delivery consistency and on-time delivery. Together, ATS Logistics and the custom manufacturer have taken the company’s supply chain to the next level.
“ATS being on their game makes us really look like we’re on our game,” Vernon said.
“ATS thinks so far beyond other carriers,” Tammy said. “It feels like they have a personal stake in our business.”
ATS Logistics, Inc. is a full-service transportation brokerage headquartered in St. Cloud, Minnesota. Managing more than 250,000 loads per year, they are the 24th largest brokerage firm in North America. Having acquired brokerage authority over 30 years ago, stability and experience in the industry paired with a streamlined carrier management program have earned ATS Logistics a position as a preferred partner amongst the nation’s top echelon of carriers. These relationships provide shippers unique access to a private network of premier carriers.
ATS Logistics Services, Inc., is a full-service transportation brokerage and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anderson Trucking Service, Inc.