In 2009, North Carolina-based entrepreneur Tony Radchishin recognized a gap in the market and launched Millhouse Logistics as a two-man show out of his Ashville garage. His aim was to provide a better shipping option for local businesses…
“The area where we are in the Carolinas did not seem like it had any big players in place,” Mr. Radchishin remembers. “The idea was that this might be a good area that hasn’t been discovered as much. We wanted to start something on the local level, on the small scale for local services.”
It took commitment and hard work to get the idea off the ground. “We were able to buy a few trucks and I had family members driving; it was a mix of working during the day booking the trucks and sometimes driving at night to cover the shipments.” The effort paid off. Just seven years later, the logistics startup enjoys an international presence with offices in Charlotte, Chicago, and Mexico in addition to its Asheville headquarters. “The initial plan was to discover some local market, but once we started offering services we noticed that the services were very needed on a bigger scale and we wanted to go with the flow and expand.”
Strategies for success
In the logistics business every minute counts so naturally the team made speed a priority. “Speed is everything,” Mr. Radchishin remarks. “Often we deal with last minute stuff—line down situations. A lot of manufacturers use our services when they get into a jam, when they get into some sort of trouble. Within three to four minutes we can respond to an email or phone call with a quote. You will basically get an instant quote.”
Another winning strategy was to focus on volume to build up business. “We believed that if we went with lower margins and kept our drivers busy and had them make more money so that they can take care of their families, they would not be looking to quit or explore other options. We made sure to grow our long-lasting relationships with our drivers by providing them with more work than our competition could.”
The team worked hard to build coverage in order to meet the high volume of deliveries. “And by having coverage, we never have to tell our customers [there is] no option and they have to go somewhere else for a quote. So it was a win-win situation. You have your drivers happy by giving them more work and you have your customers happy because every time they call you have an availability for the shipment.”
Millhouse Logistics is able to expedite clients’ time-critical shipment needs. The company relies on a fleet of cargo vans, sprinters, small straights and large straights to get items from point A to point B as quickly as possible. A large network of independent owner-operators works closely with the Millhouse dispatching team to expedite freight anywhere in country.
Millhouse Logistics offers both LTL (less than truckload) and FTL (full truckload) services. With LTL, a customer only purchases the space they need in a trailer, allowing them to ship a small amount of freight at a fraction of the cost of FTL. FTL customers purchase the entire trailer space in order to ship large amounts of freight in bulk. Both approaches have their own advantages, depending on the needs of the customer.
The company’s newest offering is Onboard Courier (OBC), in which a courier hand delivers a package to the customer—no matter how far away that customer is located. “We offer a specialized service to our customers that includes a person who will transfer goods on a commercial flight. We will put the shipment on the plane and we will have a courier that will fly together on the same flight and then he will deliver the shipment to the hands of our customer. The customer will have a greater assurance that the shipment is being handled the right way and it won’t be misplaced or damaged.”
Customers are happy to pay the price in order to ensure they receive an undamaged package as quickly as possible. Often, the package is needed in order to keep a manufacturing plant operating and every second of delay is money down the drain. “Customers will pay thousands of dollars for the service because they need [a part] now and they cannot function without this part. Believe it or not, this is very needed; we have daily requests for this and we have daily coverage for this.” The pharmaceutical, aerospace, and automotive industries are all frequent—and enthusiastic—customers of Millhouse Logistics’ new OBC service.
Millhouse Logistics embraces the latest technology to stay ahead of the game. “Without technology we probably would not be able to survive a single day or an hour really,” Mr. Radchishin remarks. “We invest a significant amount of money and time in our software and TMS programs, but something that we have been really focusing on is building our own signature application that will enable our customers to have better visibility.”
The capability will speed up communication between the driver and the user and allow customers to know exactly where their shipment is located at any given time. The team has been working on developing the new system for “quite a while” and is excited to launch the new technology soon. “It will be our own company app and will be free and available to anybody to use on the driver side as well as on the customer side.”
New technology like this supports drivers as well as customers. And supporting drivers is important in an industry that is facing a serious workforce shortage. “There is a big deficit of drivers in some areas of the country,” Mr. Radchishin shares. “It is really hard to find coverage in some places. It feels like the younger generation does not really want to join the industry. So we are trying to make the job fun and lucrative again by implementing more and more technology into our services. We are really trying to take advantage of that and provide more tools via apps and hopefully we can attract more drivers and customers.”
Millhouse Logistics continues to benefit from its expansion into Mexico two years ago—and the team is on the lookout for future expansion opportunities. “A lot of the manufacturing companies that we work with are in both countries. There is a lot of raw product that is being built in Mexico and there is a lot of finished product that is being built in the US by the same manufacturers, so we want to take advantage of both. We want to be able to tell the customer if you have a shipment in North Carolina and it needs to be delivered to Mexico City you don’t have to go through two, three different companies to set this up. You call us and we will take care of your US portion, we will do your cross border solution, and then we will deliver to the final point as one company.”
The next step may be an expansion into Europe to better serve customers shipping into that market. “Automotive is really connected between the US and Mexico, as well as Europe, so if we had to guess where would be our next trend it is probably toward Europe.”
Whatever the next move, Millhouse Logistics is ready for the challenge. “We are the company that really believes in change,” Mr. Radchishin remarks. “We believe that we have to be flexible. What worked yesterday is not going to work tomorrow. We are a company that believes this is totally okay and we actually enjoy the change when it comes.”