The Logistics Experts

SNX Advance Logistics

SNX works side by side with customers to design the most appropriate supply chain solutions for their individual needs. For over the road deliveries, the company’s wide network of strategic partnerships provides a range of transportation options including dry vans, refrigerated units, flatbeds, tankers, dumps and hoppers. SNX’s rail intermodal services are becoming an increasingly popular option for many cost conscious customers, as trains provide a relatively low cost alternative for hauling freight. For customers who need to send their cargo further afield, the team offers trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific services, and boasts experience importing and exporting to and from every continent.

Whatever the means of transport, SNX’s goal is to take the burden off of the customer. This way, customers are free to focus on their core business, instead of being bogged down with logistics related complications and frustrations. Moreover, customers can expect to see a positive impact on their bottom line after partnering with SNX. These industry experts know the ins and outs of the transportation business, and are able to draw on an extensive network to source the best available service and price for each customer’s specific needs. The end result, SNX insists, will likely be a reduction in inventory costs and cycle times, along with an improved cash flow – all of which translates into more profit for the customer over the long run.

SNX is also well situated to fill in the gaps that other logistics service providers may not be able to cover. “There are a lot of people in the non-asset logistics business, but there are not a lot of people that do what we do,” SNX Executive Vice President and General Manager Larry Cormier says. “We focus on non-traditional parts of transportation where we can add value. So, while we will do just about anything, our focus is operating where not many will tread.”

Long-time industry experience helps the company successfully deliver services that competitors can’t. Although SNX was founded less than a decade ago, the company leaders have an extensive background in logistics. Most notably, both Mr. Cormier and SNX owner and President Mike Cleary have experience in the asset side of the industry, as well as the non-asset side. “Both of us come from an asset background,” Mr. Cormier reports. “We were both in the trucking business for years. We have owned trucking companies and run trucking companies.” This type of experience is actually quite rare among third party logistics operators. “Most operators in the non-asset side of the business have never worked inside a trucking company and owned assets,” Mr. Cormier explains.

This atypical inside experience gives SNX a significant edge. “We have stronger partner relationships with the asset owners based on the fact that we understand their world, which is very rare in the non-asset business,” Mr. Cormier explains. “It allows us to understand and appreciate what they are faced with and what we need to do to move forward.” These strong relationships have also helped the company secure numerous contracts through word of mouth, as well as providing a strong network of asset owners with whom to work. “We have been in the industry for a long time and we have very strong personal contacts and relationships major accounts,” Mr. Cormier remarks.”

As a result, the company has secured a number of high profile contracts – and executed them successfully. One of SNX’s most challenging recent projects involved a thermal electric plant being built in Mississippi. This “very complex” job required the coordinating of multiple shipments from multiple manufacturing facilities throughout North America. Each oversized tank and cooler had to arrive on site on time and in the proper order to keep the construction process on track. Not surprisingly, the team completed the job in record time. “We met all their deadlines,” Mr. Cormier recalls.

This accomplishment – as with any SNX project – required serious cooperation and relentless communication. “We understand that everyone needs to know where everything is all the time,” Mr. Cormier explains. Leading edge tracking capabilities are crucial because of the complicated processes that accompany each load. Permits must be obtained, escorts arranged, and inspections passed for each piece. “It’s incredibly variable,” Mr. Cormier points out. “[A shipment] is only going to actually move if it has been inspected and cleared and meets all specifications so our scheduling has to be extremely flexible.”

As a result, the company has developed an advanced reporting network so that customers and team members can easily track any shipment at any given time. Because SNX knows from experience that even the most coordinated efforts can still fall prey to bureaucratic inefficiency at the borders, international, provincial, state as well as municipal, the team offers its tracking service in an easy to understand, real-time format via regular email notifications and full web access and e-commerce solutions. This way, customers always know exactly where their shipment is – and can stay ahead of any unexpected delays.

The company’s capabilities and excellent customer service have helped it stay ahead of the industry performance curve since it was launched in 2004 – despite the rocky economy that dominated the market for several of those years. It has also helped that SNX doesn’t exclusively focus on retail logistics services, so the company’s customers have tended overall to be less negatively affected by the recent downturn. Mr. Cormier says that SNX’s current stage of development has played a positive role as well. “Because we are relative newcomers to the market and we are small, our growth is not tied to GDP growth,” he explains. “We are not running in the business cycle where we are at our maximum growth and looking for two percent growth a year. Our growth comes from new customers. We are not handicapped by having a set number of customers and being entrenched in one market.”

The team has identified a serious issue currently facing the industry as a whole, however. “The asset companies are not growing right now,” Mr. Cormier reports. “And while the economy is a big part of it, the key concern is they are finding it extremely hard to attract and hire new drivers. The current driver force is getting older and young people are simply not interested in getting into that business.” Because of this shortage of drivers, the trucking industry will likely struggle to expand even as the economy fully recovers, Mr. Cormier says.

The situation has received widespread attention within the industry, and forward thinking companies like SNX have already implemented strategies to work around the problem. “It is one of the reasons that we took a very aggressive line in getting involved in rail intermodal as a viable strategic alternative for our current and potential customers,” Mr. Cormier reports. “We see this as a key ingredient to our growth and success going forward.” To solve the underlying problem, however, Mr. Cormier believes that trucking companies will have to permanently change their mode of operations. “[It is that] quality of life issue that seems to be the real killer for attracting young drivers.” he explains. “People don’t want to be away from their families, they are not interested in going on the road for six weeks at a time.”

To keep drivers on board, Mr. Cormier says that trucking companies will eventually have to break the shipping process down into regionalized segments that he likens to “a series of pony express runs across the continent.” The industry will endure, he adds, but it must address the problem head on. “Trucking is always going to be there, but unless they change their platform to make it attractive to young people to do that type of work they are faced with some major issues in both the near and long-term.”

This foresight into the industry has led SNX to strategically move toward a more regionalized model of doing business. For instance, the company has just opened a sales office in San Francisco to provide a base of operations for the West Coast US. SNX is also planning to secure its foothold in Western Canada by opening an office in either Calgary or Vancouver later this year.

Perhaps most importantly, the team is committed to maintaining the company’s core values as it continues to expand. “Our guiding principle is to provide the highest quality of service integrity that our customers can find,” Mr. Cormier summarizes. And, with the company’s ongoing growth and success, the team is eager to bring this quality service to an increasing number of people and locations.

August 18, 2017, 11:29 PM EDT

A Model that Addresses Infrastructure Demand

The Labourers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA) is a National Union representing over 500 000 members – over 110 000 in Canada with an International Office in Hamilton, Ontario. It has Local Unions across the country and is the most common union of construction, healthcare, waste management, and show service workers in this country. In fact, LiUNA, established in 1903, is Canada’s largest Building Trades Union.