Making Light Work of Logistics
Transportation is a notoriously tough industry, and with intermodal transportation, things get even tougher. Avenue Logistics’ impressive list of Fortune 500 and multi-billion-dollar clients highlights the importance of working with an industry leader that gets the job done properly the first time.
While technology is revolutionizing the logistics industry, Avenue Logistics believes that nothing can ever beat the power of great people, and so this company invested in the latest technology and industry experts to support them. This has proven to be a winning formula that has catapulted it into enormous growth since its inception just under two years ago.
“We have put in a lot of time and effort on the technology side, but nothing will ever beat the dedication of our employees. The around-the-clock personal touch is what gives us [the edge] on the competition,” says Brad Jerwick, Vice President.
Although based in Chicago, Illinois and Kansas City, Kansas, the company works across the United States as well as shipping to and from Mexico and Canada. Its core strength is in unifying a characteristically fragmented trade as it collaborates with its transportation partners to optimize service and eliminate unnecessary empty miles, which in turn minimizes the cost to customers.
This creates mutually advantageous solutions that expand its own and its customers’ trade capacity. With a trusted network of rail, road and shipping partners, plus flexible proprietary software systems, Avenue Logistics adapts to its customers’ needs every step of the way, and requirements that might throw other operators off-kilter are taken on board and rolled out with ease.
Its approach to customer service eliminates client’s frustration at having to repeatedly explain any queries or issues as they get passed around on the phone from extension to extension. Avenue Logistics offers clients a single point of contact and a familiar person who knows all about each client’s account and any pending shipments.
“Behind this one point of contact, there is a team of people servicing customers or carriers,” says Kevin Broude, President. “It’s very frustrating to call and get machine-automated responses and not be able to get to a person when you need a question answered or need help. We try to avoid that.” Every shipment is treated with the same level of urgency, making it a priority, all the way.
From building materials to metal, food and beverages, chemicals, auto parts, airplane parts, consumer goods, paper and packaging products, there is hardly an industry the company does not serve. Whether customers need to move truckloads or smaller, less than truckload quantities or need warehousing, this company is always ready to take the weight off its clients’ hands. And this generates its most valued feedback, as clients and carriers regularly thank the company for saving the day by going all-out.
Avenue Logistics especially values the fact that many of its clients have thanked it for allowing them to operate on a whole new level because of its phenomenal service. Looking at these results, it quickly becomes clear why its approach of focusing on customers, carriers, and technology has secured its name in the market through results rather than marketing.
The world of logistics technology has seen incredible developments in the past few years and this company prides itself on its ability to continuously to remain ahead of the curve. These advances – including advances in the availability of real-time data and growth of digital freight brokerages – have significantly improved how the industry runs, meaning that logistics companies are now being challenged to adapt.
Always exploring ways in which to improve its customers’ experience, Avenue Logistics also offers clients the opportunity to book freight online with the help of the company’s proprietary software and with the option to phone for customer service. Not-so-surprisingly, despite all these new modern solutions on offer, clients still show a much stronger preference for human contact when it comes to moving their freight.
It is exactly here that illustrates the value of the company’s employees, as customer satisfaction comes back to comfort and the knowledge that somebody cares about their preferences. “For this reason, in our world, [people] are not going away,” says Broude.
How clients like things done matters as much as when they want them done. This is why Broude compares the company’s software to dating applications. Algorithms match up client preferences with carrier partners’ networks, and Cupid does the rest, allowing Avenue’s Brokers to provide clients with the best options. Combine this with its recently updated office automation systems and the whole operation becomes efficient and a lot more cost-effective.
While many start-ups are selling logistics services devoid of human contact, this company proves that nothing beats having the personal touch always available on the other side of the phone. This is mainly due to the multifaceted nature of all modes of transport, where difficulties arise quickly and frequently and are unavoidable. All one has to do is imagine the domino effect of a factory running behind with the goods, a truck on a tight schedule being made to wait, or a freight train running behind schedule, all without a single person to oversee that the rescheduling meets the customized requirements that differ for each client. This is any client’s worst nightmare and is where the security net provided by the human touch becomes invaluable. While real-time data makes the process a lot easier, it still takes people to smooth out the imperfections on the ground. Avenue Logistics keeps all parties posted as schedules are updated frequently.
“Ten times out of ten the solution to every issue we deal with is proactive communication. If we do our job as the intermediary between all parties, we can avoid a lot of headaches and find quick, effective solutions,” says Michael Jerwick, Senior Account Executive.
Broude believes that nothing compares to the dedication of the company’s eighty-six people and that of its carriers. The company’s flat structure means that every employee is empowered to contribute to the overall team meaningfully. This motivates people to become passionate about the work they do and about the difference they can make in every aspect of the business.
The company maintains that one of its keys to success, apart from a really solid network, is its low staff turnover. And in testimony to this, its staff are quite vocal in their praise of the company.
“I choose to work at Avenue Logistics because of the people I work with. From the standard, the question of what is for lunch that gets asked by literally everyone in the office, the practical jokes, to the office space we work in. It is fun, exciting, and engaging,” says Daniel Green, Senior Account Executive.
The company’s flat structure is reflected in its office design. Here, there are no offices except for those designated for personal and sales calls, so everyone works in a large, open space. “I don’t ever want anyone who works for us to feel that they are forty-eight layers from the next level. Therefore, everyone’s one conversation away from talking to anyone in the company. Everyone’s voice is heard,” says Broude. Staff and management comment on what a great environment this is in which to work.
“I’m extremely proud of where Avenue Logistics is within the current marketplace. Being on the ground floor of building a company is something I am very proud of and can’t wait to see where we will be in five to ten years,” Green adds.
Avenue Logistics also pays its carriers with industry-leading pay terms, making it a firm favorite amongst some of the country’s greatest. It has implemented an automated clearing house (ACH) payment service. Transactions are processed with electronic payments made via ACH networks. Avenue processes payments to carriers five days a week and payment is typically received within 24 to 48 hours of invoice. These pay terms are offered to carriers free of charge.
“Our carriers take full advantage of our [ACH payment] service as there are very few brokers out there [who] offer this as their standard payment terms to all partners,” says Matt Haydock, Vice President of Carrier Sales.
Despite trading independently for only sixteen months, its owners bring over half a century of collective industry experience together under one roof. And to add to this, they have developed a sense of camaraderie that is palpable. Kevin met his partner, Perry Mandera, following a company acquisition while working as a consultant. Mandera is an industry veteran and the Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Custom Companies, Inc.
“Perry’s thirty-year-plus network definitely contributed to our immediate growth,” says Broude. Brad Jerwick joined the duo and has made his mark building the company’s Kansas City office.
Through this partnership, Avenue Logistics has also aligned itself with a huge charitable platform. Through Mandera’s causes, the partners personally contribute to an inspiring number of charities including the children’s hospital. Mandera’s own charity, Custom Cares Charities, Inc., has provided 6,500 winter coats to people in need throughout Chicago. Mandera also provides transportation and warehousing for several charity organizations.
“As one of the most charitable people I know, being in partnership with Perry Mandera means that the number of charitable causes that we touch and contribute to is endless. [It’s so big] I can’t believe it,” says Kevin.
This is a company that relishes change, and its relative youth means it is not set in its ways. This allows it to evolve with great agility following suggestions it receives from customers and carriers, making it a wonderful logistics partner, especially for companies in need of a custom service backed by people who care. Mirroring the company’s growth, its office space will also expand in the near future. In fact, its Kansas City office is about to relocate to a larger facility and its Chicago office will soon follow suit.
While Avenue Logistics is open to suggestions, one thing is non-negotiable, however. Its employees, technology and carrier partners will always be the key to success.
“We want to be an ever-evolving machine that continues to serve our customers and carriers, [but] with a home for our employees,” says Broude. This is a company that wants its employees to continue believing in it, and to achieve this, it is committed to doing things the right way.