Setting up a new business isn’t easy in any industry, and supply chain management is no different. But when RD Logistics was founded in the Cincinnati, Ohio area in August of 2014, it took off at lightning speed. In the four years since, the company has grown by an exponential 2000 percent.
When asked about how the company was able to achieve such a high growth rate in a short amount of time, Vice President Charles Tracy says, “Early wins with a large sister account helped get us stabilized and build our model up and out; other smaller and larger accounts followed.”
The customer-oriented company of eight individuals, who each have a corporate background within the supply chain or customer service niche, is known in the industry for offering customizable solution-based service offerings, both tactical and strategic for clients. Its specialty is matching shippers with dependable nationwide carrier partners to help customers reduce transportation costs while never compromising on quality for their supply chain. RD Logistics’ network provides Flatbeds, Dry Vans, Intermodal-Rail, Refers and LTL services anywhere within the United States, Canada and Mexico.
The company’s early clients were impressed by the new business’ ability to offer solutions that larger 3PL (third-party logistics) companies were not offering. RD’s approach was to work with customers to provide lasting solutions. This is in part due to RD Logistics’ embrace of technology, including up-to-date enterprise resource planning, quality management systems, easy to use transportation management system and a friendly accounting system.
As the company website states, RD Logistics utilizes modern transportation management software and technologies, driven by its people who have a desire to provide each customer with the right solution and service.
Another factor is that RD Logistics has never touched a line of credit. This is important in the industry because it gives the company the ability to be flexible in what it offers clients, with implementation costs and fees upfront. “Being debt free means a third party banking or loan institution isn’t preventing us from growing with capital needs. [There are] no struggles to get extended credit or other understandable requirements in that environment. We grow with and for our clients on their time and ours; we don’t wait for outside institutions to tell us when,” says Tracy.
“All this ties together to make everything flow seamlessly for our clients. They get one invoice from us. When you’re a brand new company and they know you’re small, some people think you’re going to have small ideas, small solutions, antiquated billing and invoicing. We offer everything automated, just like the largest third party providers do,” says Tracy.
RD Logistics’ mission is to represent and treat all clients with honest communication, provide quality customer service, demonstrate excellence in all it does, and streamline innovative transportation solutions – and its impressive growth trend is continuing. In 2017, the company was a finalist for the Cincinnati Fast 55 awards, and Tracy informs us that the business has grown by another 35 percent over the last year. With a sense of urgency and adaptability, the company never shies away from tackling a large client’s problems with 3PL solutions that are tailored to the client’s needs.
For instance, one of the debt-free business’ current clients ships hotelier items such as bedding, lamps, and pictures. It had been shipping its products for many years with regular billing issues. “We have just helped complete a new implementation that is helping to correct and educate their entire shipping group, as well their internal staff on providing the correct commodity class and NFC code numbers for the product. This is huge, and we’ve done this for two hotelier companies recently and other clients in the past,” Tracy elaborates.
This is part of RD Logistics’ approach to business as a strategic partner for its clients, offering them value in its services and experience. Tracy informs us that RD will never send a customer a freight quote without being able to explain it, avoiding the pitfall of being simply transactional.
RD Logistics has expanded its customer base over the years through territory development: cold calling, multi-level media outreach, attending events at the local chamber of commerce (West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance), and referrals. At one point in 2017, seven percent of RD Logistics’ clients were from referrals.
But the supply chain management sector isn’t without its challenges. In December of 2017, a new ELD (electronic logging device) mandate took effect, enforcing that for safety reasons, all truck drivers in the United States have to be monitored with electronic devices that track their hours of operation. The mandate caused a drastic spike in transportation costs per truckload, leading to capacity issues in the market when four percent of the drivers left the industry – an industry that was already short on drivers. More customers began using LTL carriers (less than load, used for transportation of small freight less than a truckload) such as FedEx or other parcel carriers to save money on shipments.
“This is an ever-changing industry. In the last year, it has seen more changes than in the previous 10 years. We, as a small company, try to keep ahead of that so we can continuously update our clients and represent them,” says Tracy.
One of the ways that RD is addressing these issues is by investing in the business: the employees, new satellite offices, and even bringing on its own fleet. This will happen in the first quarter of 2019, when RD will take the leap into having its own assets as both a broker and carrier. This will help RD Logistics to control its own costs, and will also help the management plan the company’s budget with greater accuracy.
“That’s one of the first things we’re doing. Second, we are partnering with carriers and leveraging ourselves by spreading our business out with multiple layers of carriers,” Tracy adds.
RD Logistics partners with both large and small carriers to gain access to a variety of networks, and values these relationships with it partners very deeply. RD partners with ethical, environmentally responsible carriers and agents. The team cultivates these relationships by being an honest and open broker. Many carriers have faced issues with brokers providing poor or vague information, or being reluctant to pay associated fees when trucks run late or get held up.
“We pay for those as long as they are legitimate and the carrier is honest with us. Fostering a healthy, honest relationship built on integrity is key. We like to meet with our carriers on a regular basis so we have interaction with them.”
On average, RD Logistics runs a 28-day pay schedule, which is phenomenal in the supply chain industry. Partners are paid on time with very few deductions, if ever. By treating partners well and fostering these positive relationships, RD Logistics has continued to grow in the market with deliveries that customers can depend on.
Additionally, the team of eight has taken it upon themselves to ask customers about which areas they can improve, based on the results of a survey. The survey was conducted in July, and RD Logistics received very good feedback in addition to some ideas about how to progress further. The team has already begun implementing the results, reworking some of the playbooks that they use for the company’s various departments (operations, finance, and similar) to alter the way that clients are managed.
“There are so many clients with different protocols in their own industry that not everybody wants a single-stamp invoice or a single-stamp 3PL solution. We have to keep customizing our processes to fit that. We are a process-oriented company,” Tracy states.
Working at a company like RD Logistics requires someone to be able to think on the spot and be innovative. RD’s team of seasoned, tech-savvy, and knowledgeable staff is able to offer flexible 3PL solutions that meet or exceed customer expectations.
“The people make us what we are, and we demonstrate that on every level,” says Tracy.