Our 15th annual Shipper Symposium wrapped up last week in beautiful Austin, and wow – what a fantastic event! Given the line-up of speakers, activities and attendees – we’re pretty confident that this one has been the best yet. A very BIG thank you to all the customers, carriers, partners and speakers who came and contributed to this year’s event. We hope you enjoyed it and got as much value out of it as we did.
Bright and early on Tuesday morning, Frank McGuigan, President and COO of Transplace, warmly welcomed attendees and spent time highlighting the company’s recent strategic growth and focus on building competitive advantage for us and for our customers. He then introduced the day’s first keynote speaker, Ken Gronbach, for his presentation, “Charting the Course Through Demographic Change.”
Ken spoke about how the world is changing, and how knowing the facts about demographics can be invaluable when looking at industry trends and markets. He noted that the people that are going to shape our demographic future 50 years from now are already born. According to Ken: “The future is not a mystery with the power of shifting demography!”
Attendees were then treated to a host of insightful breakout sessions. Here are just a few of the highlights!
• In “Why Partnership and Collaboration is Critical to Supply Chain Transformation,” John Walch from BASF presented many of the benefits of partnerships within his organization. He walked through BASF’s journey with Transplace as a partner, and through the steps they took together toward improvement across the board, noting that, “It’s not only important for us to have a clear vision as the customer, but for the provider to have a clear vision as well and make decisions accordingly.”
• In “Strategies to Deliver Against Rising Retailer Expectations,” USG’s Craig Boroughf noted that what many customers really want to know is: when do we know a load is going to fail, when is the soonest possible moment to find out and what are we doing about it? His hypothesis is that the supply chain is getting more efficient and supply chain people are very bright, which leads to answering this question much more quickly and efficiently. According to Craig, “The biggest benefit we can deliver for shippers is for us to be agile and responsive – and anticipate what those customers’ needs are and set the bar higher. The more agile we can be, the better partner we can be.”
• In “What’s Next on the Transplace IT Roadmap,” Transplace CTO Mike Dieter described how, in the logistics world, predictive analytics is where we want to go. Regarding Transplace’s technology for supply chain visibility and predictive analytics Mike said, “We don’t want you to focus on what’s on time and what’s okay. We want to show you where the problems are. Our goal is to provide data visibility and ensure the data is in your hands quickly so you can go on and do other things!”
Keynote speaker, Paul Zikopoulos took the stage to discuss data and analytics and how the “holy trinity” of social, mobile and cloud is causing massive disruption in our everyday lives. Data is everywhere and it’s being pushed to new levels by millennials, and insights from digital engagements will have a profound effect on our society. Additionally, he talked about how blockchain will disrupt the industry in an extraordinary way. He left attendees with the important question: Technology always has a valued added service, but how can we incorporate this value within your supply chain?
Attendees ended day one of Shipper Symposium with Navy Commander Mike Abrashoff, who inspired the crowd with his motivating talk on leadership. He reminded the crowd that, “We’re all leaders and we’re all captains of our own ship. At the end of the day, our success depends on our people, how well we engage them and how well we work together.”
Kicking off day two of the event, Transplace CEO, Tom Sanderson and President and COO, Frank McGuigan presented this year’s annual charity, Feeding America, with a check for $20,000! The remarkable generosity of our attendees will be helping this valuable organization continue to carry on its mission.
Frank and Tom stuck around to give a state of the business update on Transplace. Both spent time talking about the company’s growth through acquisitions and how over time they’ve continued to focus on finding companies to acquire that are close to what Transplace does and will deliver additional value to customers. Frank commented, “We’re pleased to say that business is doing well and the values we’re bringing to customers through our mission statement are bearing fruit in the marketplace.” Another big topic of discussion was about the company’s continued investment in technology and recent enhancements to Transplace’s proprietary TMS solution. Said Tom, “The investment we’re making in technology is paramount to providing continuous improvement to our customers and it will continue.”
Back by popular demand to join Tom on stage was Thom Albrecht, President, Sword & Sea Transport Advisors, and also joining the crew this year was Anette Sandberg, CEO, Transafe Consulting and former FMCSA Deputy Administrator. This panel talked through transportation trends as well as industry insight and regulation. Thom spoke first and pointed how, “Last year, we talked a lot about the burst of the commodity bubble. The good news for this year is we’re rebounding thanks to rising drilling rig counts and more pricing stability back in those commodities like wheat and copper.”
Annette took time to give a FMCSA regulation update, in which she forecasted that more than likely most current legislation won’t make too much progress over the next four years. She added, “There’s so much going on; Congress is unable to agree on nominees, much less bigger trucks.”
Tom weighed in on ELD concerns from the audience and talked about carriers having the data to go back to shippers to show dwell time. “That’s a powerful thing to show and talk about ‘Here’s what’s costing my driver,’” he added.
Closing out the day was Economist and President of ITR Economics, Alan Beaulieu. Alan brought the fun and the data to tell the audience a story of what’s to come in the short term – “You should be feeling good about the next 12 months” – and the long term – “Prepare yourself for the Great Recession of 2030.”
Alan talked about how, “2016 unfolded the way we expected; the economy is getting better, and it’s sustainable. We’ll see growth peak the first half of 2018 and then it will start to slow down the last half of the year – leading to a mild consumer led recession in 2019.”
Additionally, he said our economy is “being lit up” by foreign direct investment, with a record number of investments coming in during the election, which he says tells us that the U.S. “is a safe bet.” And because of that more manufacturing is coming to the U.S., and that means more freight and more shipments.
While we face somewhat significant challenges ahead (i.e. healthcare, Social Security), Alan is hopeful, and he is hopeful because of one generation in particular: millennials. He said, “My biggest hope for the future is the millennials. My generation, the Baby Boomers, screwed it up so badly that that’s going to drive millennials to do things differently.” Let’s hope so.
We hope you’ll join us next year, May 8-10 in Frisco at The Star, for an educational event like no other in the transportation industry.