The WSI Wire

Reliability Matters

WSI Facility Manager Joe Countney Champions WSI Ethics of Teamwork, Absolute Reliability - Feb 2017

Joe Countney, who manages WSI’s Ehlers, Janssen and Martin Drive facilities in Neenah, Wisconsin, started with the Van Hoof Companies as a 16-year-old summer worker at Pacon.

During our 50th anniversary celebration and beyond, we wanted to take some time to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to the community and dedication to the balance between work and life.

Joe Countney, who manages WSI’s Ehlers, Janssen and Martin Drive facilities in Neenah, Wisconsin, started with the Van Hoof Companies as a 16-year-old summer worker at Pacon. He was then hired in May of 1985 by Vicki Romenesko to support the WSI Media Center at Brighton Beach. He has built a storied career at WSI, with some breaks taken to pursue other career opportunities. Those opportunities ultimately enriched his ability to smoothly manage the SCA and Clearwater accounts – two of WSI’s largest paper customers. Joe praises his team, his customer and all his WSI friends for making WSI such a fantastic place to work.

“I really like my job, our customers and the people I work with. It’s kind of like quarterbacking the winning football team. Preparation meets opportunity. It’s easy to go the extra mile for really good customers that appreciate the efforts of all of us,” he said. “For example, SCA personnel know a lot of our team members on an individual basis. They were here to help us and assist us when we took over the handling part of the operation at Martin Drive in 2013. A kind of bond developed going through that process together to build that relationship of trust.”

Joe said he works with WSI veterans that have been with the company between 30 and 40 years, some mid-career employees who have been with the company 10 to 15 years, and some operators with one to three years of experience. He works with approximately 40 team members in total across the three facilities. “And they’re all exceptional employees,” he said.

From warehouse lead and manager jobs in the Fox Valley, California, Fond du Lac, Racine, Denver and with Pacon, Joe has seen it all. He smiled recalling when WSI started a new trucking operation in the Fox Valley area.
“While Merle Verhagen, Bill Romenesko, Fred Mader and the rest of the guys were running around in 18-wheeler trucks, I was taking care of some of their buildings,” he said, referencing a close group of WSI friends he has been in touch with both on and off the job for more than 30 years.

Joe left WSI for a few years to pursue distribution manager jobs, namely for apparel giant Fruit of the Loom, where he managed between 500 and 800 people. All the while, Joe said, he stayed in touch with friends like Joe Romenesko, Fred Mader, Mike Kilbane, Gary Liebhauser, and Tom Kiesow – a group of individuals he has been close with for most of his adult life. In 2002, Joe came back to WSI, working for Joe Romenesko in Racine.
Since taking over the SCA account, Joe has tackled some interesting and fulfilling challenges. In 2013, when WSI took over the labor on the SCA account in Neenah, Wisconsin, the SCA employees vacated the warehouse at 6 a.m., and WSI employees walked in at 6:30 a.m. WSI, led by Joe, took over the 400,000 square feet-24/7 operation. He was supported by a few administrative people from SCA and a transition team that included Bill Romenesko and Glen Mitchell. Thanks to months of planning, the transition went smoothly.

In March 2015, Joe coordinated the movement of 1,400 truckloads of paper rolls and finished goods that needed to swap buildings in less than two weeks. The move was incredibly seamless and smooth, he said, “due in large-part to our terrific Lead Crew (Chris Hupf, Jane Buelow, Bob Rogers, Tommy Howard and Scott Schnese).”

Joe and his team incorporated lean methodology into the operation and have saved WSI and SCA approximately half a million dollars, both in customer cost savings and cost avoidance, all the while retaining strong employees.

On a more personal note, Joe met his wife 10 years ago. Joe and Cindy will be married seven years this summer. They have a “caring, polite, kind” six-year-old son who loves to read and a “feisty, opinionated, cute-as-a-button” four-year-old daughter. They share their 5.5 rural acres with a beautiful, rare Norwegian Fjord horse. Joe has spent the past 1.5 years building a horse barn on their property.

Countney’s commitment to WSI, his family and his family of WSI friends is inspiring. Thank you for your continued service, Joe!

Carson, California Location Prioritizes Both Safety and Life Balance - Dec 2016

Our Carson, Calif. team, which handles some of our customers’ highest-regulated, most-hazardous chemical materials, started up the Los Angeles-area facility in 2011.

During our 50th anniversary celebration, we want to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees that embody WSI’s vision of Absolute Reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to community and dedication to the balance between work and life.

Our Carson, Calif. team, which handles some of our customers’ highest-regulated, most-hazardous chemical materials, started up the Los Angeles-area facility in 2011. Chris Reynolds and Karl Hamilton specifically work on tank car loading and unloading, delicately handling rail cars filled with chemicals. Adan Herrera, Cruz Ibarra and Jorge Gutierrez are material handlers, and Felix Aragon and Gabriel Guardado are Client Service Representatives. This powerful combination of employees includes long-tenured WSI employees and newer faces.

Damon Rickenbacker, Carson’s facility manager, praised his team’s self-starting and attention to detail.

“I have key eyes in key places, and those eyes understand what they’re doing,” he said. “I have synergy; I’m not putting out major fires in operations. These guys are independently working in accordance with the Responsible Care program and local, state and federal regulatory guidelines.”

On Damon’s last trip for WSI work-related responsibilities, he was gone for 10 days and said the Carson facility employees ran the building flawlessly.

“Our company provides excellent training for handling dangerous goods. My guys maintain strict adherence to company policy and procedures, which allows for smooth warehouse operations,” he said. “Those leads and CSRs handle every customer and every operational task with no issues.”

Damon’s current warehouse lead, Adan Herrera, is working closely with Damon on the administrative side of the job, including managerial responsibilities, financials and reporting tasks. Damon contributes to Adan’s professional development by exposing him to multiple facets of warehouse operations. However, true to the WSI ethos of work-life balance, Damon ensures his employees find needed personal time.

“A couple of my guys are young enough that they’re in their first years of college,” Damon said. “I try to encourage continuous education and achieving personal academic goals.” He works with his employees’ work schedules to ensure both their work obligations and higher-learning pursuits can be met.

Damon indicated that the culture of safety at Carson is one of his proudest achievements at WSI so far. Aside from making significant strides in efficiency improvements by automating many activities at the facility, Carson is an active participant in Responsible Care, a national standard for the safe handling of chemicals.

“Responsible Care and the high standards it requires of chemical-handling 3PLs invokes the need to constantly self-improve, constantly evaluate, constantly look for opportunities to be safer,” he said.

Carson’s dedication to safety, productivity and smooth operations is second to none. Thank you for your continued service!

Accounts Payable Employee Ann Dailey Exemplifies WSI Spirit - Sep 2016

Ann Dailey, Accounts Payable at WSI, started as a Client Service Representative in 1992.

During our 50th anniversary celebration, we want to take some time to acknowledge, thank and highlight a few of the many hardworking and loyal employees who embody WSI’s vision of absolute reliability to the customer, enthusiastic service to the community and dedication to the balance between work and life.

Ann Dailey, Accounts Payable at the WSI Home Office, started as a Client Service Representative at Specialists Avenue in Neenah in 1992. She has been with the company for 24 years as of May 2016. In fact, the feature of our first 50th anniversary profile, Joe Romenesko, was her first manager. Mike Coenen and Tom Breaker were her later managers. We sat down with Ann earlier this month to discuss her roles at WSI, her dedication to her family and her commitment to instilling in her daughters the same incredible work ethic and high moral fiber that Ann herself exhibits, and her thoughts on WSI’s bright future:

“I worked on a few different accounts, including Pelican Paper Products and Appleton Papers,” Ann said, continuing that she transferred to Martin Drive’s facility in Neenah after the first few years on the job. “Then, I had my first child, and when I came back from maternity leave, I was able to float a bit from position to position, until the Accounts Payable position opened, and I applied for it.”

She is excited to use her accounting skills to manage WSI’s finances, including paying bills essential to the company’s existence and continuing livelihood, like rental payments to warehouse landlords and utility charges. Now, she’s added payroll and Attendance Enterprise to her list of responsibilities, helping coordinate weekly paychecks for the company’s nearly 1,000 employees. Splitting the payables role with Allene Waybright and payroll with Joanne Wolff, Ann handles paychecks for American Warehouse, WSI Transportation team and Fulfillment Specialists of America. As the Accounting Department experiences a few retirements and gains new hires in the next year, Ann is excited for new challenges and opportunities this may bring.

She says what she loves most about her job is the variety of challenging and stimulating tasks she completes on a daily basis, including coordinating warehouse managers, vendors and internal customers, dealing with certificates of insurance and Attendance Enterprise.

In the past few years, Ann said she’s enjoyed the melding of minds that came with moving into a consolidated Home Office. “We can work together more, instead of separately, and eliminate some of that back-and-forth that used to happen when we were spread out at different locations,” Ann said. “I can walk over to Becky Blair’s desk and give her information about communicating with vendors for certificates of insurance, if she needs it, rather than taking the extra step of emailing.”

She spoke highly of her three daughters, ages 14, 17 and 20, saying they were all “very different from one another” but all three share extremely conscientious and high achieving behaviors and lifestyles.

“I also love the flexibility WSI offers. I can balance my family and their band and doctors’ appointments,” Ann said. “Family comes first at WSI, which is so important to me. My daughters have some health issues, and I can still be at the hospital working from my laptop from afar, if needed.”

Her incredible dedication reaches as far as working offsite from a hospital bedside! Thank you for your continued service, Ann.

Read More

This Just In

WSI Releases New Logo, Celebrates 50th Anniversary in 2016 - Oct 2016

Appleton-based WSI, one of the largest privately held third-party logistics providers in the United States, released a new logo last week, in conjunction with celebrating the company's 50th anniversary.

Over the past 50 years, WSI has grown from a 30,000-square-foot warehouse in Combined Locks, Wisconsin, to a fully integrated logistics provider with more than 15 million square feet and 1,200 employees working throughout the U.S.

"Moving into WSI's second fifty years gives us an excellent opportunity to update our logo to reflect the many services our company has to offer," said Bob Schroeder, WSI CEO and President.

Those offered services include warehouse storage, fulfillment, bulk handling, specialized chemical handling, transportation services and more. The new logo and the "WSI" name represent the entire WSI family of companies, which includes Warehouse Specialists, LLC; American Warehouse, LLC (AWC); Material Logistics & Services (MLS); Fulfillment Specialists of America, Inc. (FSA); and WSI Transportation, LLC.

In the coming months, the new logo will be rolled out across the organization and to WSI customers.

The new logo introduced in late October 2016:

 

The former logo used by WSI for more than 20 years:

About WSI

WSI is a leading third-party logistics company providing warehousing, distribution, transportation, import/export handling and fulfillment services.  WSI utilizes cutting-edge technological capabilities to deliver efficiency that goes unmatched, and customized solutions to fit customers’ needs.  The company excels in handling multiple product verticals, including paper, chemical, consumer packaged goods, building materials and more. Visit www.wsinc.com for more information. 

360data Named to 2016 Top 3PLS for Software by Global Trade Magazine - Jun 2016

360data, an innovative, cloud-based logistics software solutions provider, recently received the honor of being named to the 2016 Top 3PLs for Software list by Global Trade Magazine.

The Appleton, Wisconsin-based 360data is featured as a provider that offers solutions designed to help companies with their transportation, logistics and supply chain challenges.

360data, a WSI company, offers complete business visibility of a company's supply chain through three software modules: B2B Integration, Transportation Management System and Order Management System. Each component can be utilized independently to manage a single segment of a supply chain, or they can be used together to manage the entire supply chain. The software, through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) compatibility and data cleansing and mapping, provides visibility, accuracy and adaptability for users and their trading partners.

"We are honored to be named to the 2016 Top 3PLs for Software list," said WSI CEO Bob Schroeder. "Our 360data customers have gained complete visibility of their supply chain processes using our 360data cloud-based suite."

From retail giants to regional food distributors, 360data allows companies more complete control over their supply chains, from purchase orders to EDI order entry, to outbound shipment.

The full list of 2016 Top 3PLs for Software can be seen in the June/July 2016 print publication of Global Trade Magazine and online here: http://epagepub.com/publication/?i=308298&p=38.

About 360data

360data, a WSI company, provides sophisticated, cloud-based supply-chain solutions, including B2B/EDI integration software, Transportation Management Systems and Order Management Systems. Each system is personalized to the customer, whether it be a retailer, supplier, transportation broker or trucking company, to optimize supply chain efficiency and realize savings. Together, with almost 50 years of supply chain experience, 360data and WSI know logistics. Visit www.360data.com for more information.

About WSI

WSI is a leading third-party logistics company providing warehousing, distribution, transportation, import/export handling and fulfillment services. WSI utilizes cutting-edge technological capabilities to deliver efficiency that goes unmatched, and customized solutions to fit customers' needs. The company excels in handling multiple product verticals, including paper, chemical, consumer packaged goods, building materials and more. Visit www.wsinc.com for more information.

360data Named to 2016 Top 100 Logistics IT Providers by Inbound Logistics Magazine - Apr 2016

360data, an innovative, cloud-based logistics software solutions provider, recently received the honor of being named to the 2016 Top 100 Logistics IT Providers list by Inbound Logistics magazine.

The Appleton, Wisconsin-based 360data was chosen from more than 400 candidate entries as a provider that offers solutions designed to help companies with their transportation, logistics and supply chain challenges.

360data, a WSI company, offers complete business visibility of a company's supply chain through its four distinct software modules: B2B Collaboration platform, Transportation Management System, Order Management System and Warehouse Management System. Each component can be utilized independently to manage a single segment of a supply chain, or they can be used together to manage the entire supply chain. The software, through Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) compatibility and data cleansing and mapping, provides visibility, accuracy and adaptability for users and their trading partners.

"We are honored to be named to the 2016 Top 100 LIT list," said WSI CEO Bob Schroeder. "Our 360data customers have gained complete visibility of their supply chain processes using our 360data cloud-based suite."

From retail giants to regional food distributors, 360data allows companies more complete control over their supply chains, from purchase orders to EDI order entry, to outbound shipment. The full list of 2016 Top 100 LIT Providers can be seen here: www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/top-100-lit and in the April 2016 print publication of Inbound Logistics magazine.

About 360data

360data, a WSI company, provides sophisticated, cloud-based supply-chain solutions, including B2B/EDI Integration software, Transportation Management Systems, Warehouse Management Systems and Order Management Systems. Each system is personalized to the customer, whether it be a retailer, supplier, transportation broker or trucking company, to optimize supply chain efficiency and realize savings. Together, with almost 50 years of supply chain experience, 360data and WSI know logistics. Visit www.360data.com for more information.

About WSI

WSI is a leading third-party logistics company providing warehousing, distribution, transportation, import/export handling and fulfillment services. WSI utilizes cutting-edge technological capabilities to deliver efficiency that goes unmatched, and customized solutions to fit customers' needs. The company excels in handling multiple product verticals, including paper, chemical, consumer packaged goods, building materials and more. Visit www.wsinc.com for more information.

Fresh Ink

It’s Chemistry: Globally Harmonized System Facilitates Trade - Jun 2016

Prior to December 1, 2015, a chemical material handler could approach a tank of a hazardous substance and see as many as three different hazard symbols, depending on the product’s country of origin, transportation mode, and labeling agency. “Is the skull-and-crossbones image the symbol for acute toxicity?” he would think. “Or is it a carcinogenic substance?”

Now, nine separate container and workplace labels, including distinctive pictograms, clearly communicate what substance the worker is handling and its level of hazard. A slightly different set of symbols, found on chemical-transporting vehicles, communicate their corresponding substances’ hazard levels in transit. 

The clarification provided by the United States’ recent implementation of the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, GHS for short, allows material handlers, transportation workers and corporate entities to identify hazardous substances with ease. These substances include everything from common workplace chemicals like solvents to pharmaceuticals.

GHS COMPLIANCE

GHS is a concerted, global effort developed by the United Nations to harmonize all chemical hazard symbols and Safety Data Sheets, formerly known as Material Safety Data Sheets. The most significant changes are in the format of SDS documents. Previously, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Hazard Communication Standard MSDS documents were written in different languages, with different formats. Now, the GHS SDS documents mandate a formulaic structure, so each country’s SDS pages appear the same in structure and consistently fulfill the same information requirements. 

“These differences in hazard classifications, SDS, and labels impact both protection and trade,” explains the Hazmat Global Harmonization System Updates guide. “In the area of trade, the need to comply with multiple regulations regarding hazard classification and labeling is costly and time-consuming. Some multinational companies have estimated that there are over 100 diverse hazard communication regulations for their products globally. For small and medium size enterprises, regulatory compliance is complex and costly, and it can act as a barrier to international trade in chemicals.” 

Most UN member countries have adopted legislation to implement GHS to standardize chemical hazard symbols in various phases, an effort to boost their countries’ regulatory efficiencies, improve safety, and cut down on government costs of labeling enforcement. As of December 1, 2015, all hazardous chemical manufacturers, distributors, and importers in the United States needed to comply with GHS labeling, providing a label that includes a signal word, pictogram, hazard statement, and precautionary statement for each hazard class and category, according to the OSHA HCS Final Rule. Not being in compliance with the OSHA HCS by June 1, 2016, can result in fines, penalties, halting of product shipments, and even recalls—serious barriers to trade for globally minded corporations. 

For those companies that achieved full compliance as of December 1, 2015, their efforts almost certainly resulted in cost savings, since they no longer need to comply with multiple labeling systems. Simply put, encouraging other corporations, both domestic and international, to comply with the HCS and GHS regulations is good for trade. Specifically, according to OSHA’s GHS guide, the regulations “facilitate international trade in chemicals whose hazards have been identified on an international basis.” 

These chemicals include cleaning products used for industrial applications; plastic pellets formulated for the creation of DVDs, compact discs, and other technology products; and chemical ingredients designed to be mixed with other stabilizers to create beauty emollients and makeup. Increased access to these chemicals on a global scale can strengthen cross-border relations, increase profits for multiple countries, and even improve the overall health of various countries’ citizens.

 

BENEFITS OF THE GHS PROGRAM

The GHS program reaches another milestone this summer. June 1, 2016, was the deadline to update alternative workplace labelling and hazard communication programs, and provide additional employee training for newly identified physical or health hazards. Now, the onus is once again on employers to update their programming and ensure their employees have the “right to understand” the hazardous chemicals that can inhabit their workplaces. WSI, one of the largest privately held third-party logistics firms in the United States, updated these guidelines and programming in 2015 to educate both its warehouse-based and office-based employees. A separate program prepares WSI material handlers for new pictogram and labeling expectations. Ultimately, as the GHS pictograms, SDS documents, and labeling become more prevalent in chemical trade around the world, the logistics industry—its employees and its end users—will reap the benefits of increased, streamlined trade.

 

Rob Kriewaldt, Director of Client Solutions, WSI

InquiryIL@wsinc.com

Featured in logistics knowledgebase, June 2016

Three Key Points to Communicate to Become Your Customers’ Dream Provider - May 2016

Communication and transparency are key to being a good partner to your clients.

If your logistics organization is in the process of responding to RFP questions from a plum potential customer, positioning your logistics organization as the ideal fit for that customer depends on clear communication of three defining factors of your business: specialization, size and scope.

SPECIALIZATION

If your company is a warehousing provider that specializes in retail accounts, for example, your organization may be the best option for housing the product of a new body lotion client. Be sure to point out in your RFP response that you understand the natural cycle of order entries and closures, chargebacks and the necessity of adjusting shipping schedules to meet Must Arrive By Dates (MABD). Additionally, be sure to communicate that your organization will be able to anticipate the volume of outbound shipments that may come with rush orders, promotions and industry fluctuations.

Similarly, if your organization has extensive and specific experience in chemical and bulk logistics, be clear in your communications that your company excels at special handling of sensitive product. Mention any certification you have, such as ISO 9001 or Responsible Care. Emphasize that your company is a third-party logistics provider with employees who  frequently understand the uses of different lift truck attachments to efficiently handle large products like paper rolls.

SIZE

When contacted by a potential client with an RFI or RFP, first ensure the size of your organization is a good fit with the potential client’s product and volume. If you are a regional logistics provider with public warehousing options, your ideal client may be a raw materials supplier with just a few customers in your market, with a need for lots of flexibility in accessing its inbound and outbound product. If you are a multi-national logistics provider, your ideal client may need operations or fulfillment in dozens of countries. If you are a middle-market provider that focuses on a single country or continent, and are not limited to only regional activity, your ideal client likely will be more limited in geographic needs. Upfront communication during the RFP process helps the potential customer determine whether your organization’s size matches their needs.

Space can be an issue, depending on the amount of product your potential client has and the square footage needed. CBRE recently reported that open industrial real estate – read: warehousing space – is at a 15-year low of 9.4 percent. Is your organization tight on square footage? If so, communicate to your client that locking in space, especially at your dedicated and contract facilities, is key.

Similarly, site visits are vital to ensure the best- fitting partnership between client and provider. Be sure to point out your well-maintained facility, with pest control measures in place, clean floors and well-organized racking, location and barcode systems. Savvier procurement officers from potential clients will check to see that material-handling employees look motivated, that safety equipment is in place and that the warehouse has no glaring, poorly maintained items, such as non-functioning dock levelers or overhead lights. Addressing these eyesores and concerns before potential clients walk through your facility is paramount to securing future business.

SCOPE

Generally, transportation is the single biggest logistics cost for clients. The retail industry’s new emphasis on same-day and next-day delivery makes prioritizing affordable transportation even more important to clients. Should your client seek to expand into new regions, it will want a logistics provider that features dedicated warehouse space around the country, including locations close enough to their customers to meet their shorter delivery windows. Be sure to communicate your geographic scope. Also, consolidating logistics services with one 3PL provider can save a client significantly on transportation costs. In the right instances, advertise any transportation services your company offers, including carrier brokerage! When applicable, emphasize that your organization has strong Transportation Management System capabilities, whether those capabilities include providing cloud-based software or interfacing with your potential client’s existing TMS.

If your client regularly faces shipment challenges, order entry difficulties or problems with invoice reconciliation, make sure it knows of your company’s additional logistics services, particularly if you have strong Warehouse Management System and Electronic Data Interchange capabilities.

Do you have more ideas to share for effectively communicating with customers in our industry? Send us an email: InquiryIL@wsinc.com.

 

Rob Kriewaldt, Director of Client Solutions, WSI

InquiryIL@wsinc.com

Featured in logistics knowledgebase, May 2016

Using RFPs to Optimize Partnerships - Apr 2016

Requests for proposal (RFP) are rewarding but time-intensive processes that ideally result in both parties entering into a years-long logistics partnership.

The significant amount of time invested in the RFP process helps ensure the provider and client are a good fit. Developing a strong partnership with a best-fit 3PL also can help your company optimize longstanding supply chain processes. However, throughout the process, both parties can experience confusing scenarios that could be avoided given proper communication. Following are six guidelines for your 3PL-seeking company to be cognizant of during the RFP process:

1. Consider sending an RFI first. Sometimes, a company will send an RFP to 40 or 50 providers, which each have to expend resources responding. “Requests for Information” generally are less time-intensive and more informal. The question-and-answer process in RFIs allows your company to narrow its list of providers quickly and easily, without the provider or your organization expending signi cant time. Similarly, responding in stages also allows the 3PL to get to know the needs of your company and decide at each stage whether they wish to remain in the process.

2. Have a clear idea of your company’s objective. Many times, companies will seek logistics providers through the RFP process to lower overall supply chain costs, increase responsiveness to their customers’ needs, shorten delivery times or all of the above. Know what your company needs. If your company provides a large amount of data and asks for solutions without clearly defining what it wants, it can slow down the selection process. If given the proper information, the potential 3PL provider can accurately anticipate the company’s needs and save time for both your company and its own operation.

3. Involve top decision-makers during the 3PL selection process. In a recent WSI blog post (http://bit.ly/1Rh7toP), we encourage the revolution of procurement departments and emphasize how 3PLs can help companies with procurement. By working strategically with other members of your organization, procurement and purchasing leaders can design a robust selection process, taking into account key areas of criteria, “such as customer service, responsiveness, financial stability, and international scope, if applicable.” As the recent University of Tennessee study found, companies still struggle to include top leaders in their 3PL selection process. Engaging in an analytical and strategic RFP process with 3PL service providers can help discover previously unseen points of stagnancy within your company and help to eliminate those inefficiencies.

4. Analyze factors other than bottom-line costs. As stated above, a multi-disciplinary approach involving key leaders in your company is essential to developing a long-term relationship with a 3PL provider. Additionally, some companies use RFPs as a way to price check with no intention of switching vendors. The faux-bidding often induces the intended effect of encouraging a company’s current 3PL provider to reduce its prices. Open communication about price expectations could reduce the need for a manufactured bidding competition, with numerous 3PLs spending resources on a contract a company has no intention of giving them.

5. Make sure outside advisors know your business and industry. If your company uses a logistics consultant, the consultant may know the logistics industry well but may not understand your specific organization’s needs. For example, your company hires a consultant, who doesn’t fully understand the retail industry, to seek a logistics provider for your company’s retail division. The consultant therefore does not consider the costs of compliance, chargebacks and expenses incurred for shipment variations. A logistics provider in the company’s RFP bid also “forgets” about these expenses—or does not think to consider them in the first place—and wins the business over another more-informed 3PL with retail experience, based on price alone. Typically, given the importance of the overlooked factors to your company’s logistics business, your organization ends up parting ways with the ill-fitting 3PL provider after a short time. The provider’s expectations for the work and your company’s expectations for the costs ultimately do not match.

6. Accurate data is essential to the RFP process. If your company knows typical order sizes, inventory levels, SKUs, an approximate amount of rush orders and standard transactional data, it will find a logistics provider that is a good match for those factors. If your company does not know or have this data, the discrepancy between expectations will become rapidly apparent during the onboarding and start-up process. The better the RFP data, the better the implementation of start-up. Anything clients can do to ease the start-up process on the front end will benefit them. In short, transparency and communication are key in the RFP process, to develop a true and lasting partnership with a 3PL provider. Is your business seeking a true partnership? 

 

Rob Kriewaldt, Director of Client Solutions, WSI

InquiryIL@wsinc.com

Featured in logistics knowledgebase, April 2016