Logistics Plus has become a trusted name in third-party supply chain management over the past 18 years because of its ability to tackle complex projects through customized solutions and by working to prevent complications.
“Some of the value of what Logistics Plus has been successful at is making ourselves an extension of our customers; we are the extension of their logistics team,” Global Sales Manager Michelle Fontaine says. “We become integrated and get to know their business inside and out. We plan and prepare for that business and I think in the end [it] makes a lot of customers more efficient.”
The Erie, Pa.-based company was founded in 1996 when local entrepreneur Jim Berlin was given a one-year, three-person contract to help manage domestic inbound logistics for GE Transportation Systems (GETS). One year later, GETS asked Berlin and his staff of five to assist with its new supplier shipments from Mexico. In 1998, some members of Logistics Plus’ 15-member team were placed in sourcing offices in the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia, India, China and Indonesia.
Director of Global Operations Yuriy Ostapyak says the company grew significantly with GE, but also realized it was the company’s only customer. “We started growing our outside customer base and have grown organically,” he adds. “Word-of-mouth has been our most successful sales tool for organic growth. We have doubled in size during our first 10 years, and as we expand into different markets and industries we continue to enjoy double-digit growth.
Today, Logistics Plus is a worldwide provider of global logistics, freight management and business solutions with 36 offices in 20 countries. The company handles traditional shipments as well as oversized project cargo that can require escorts, permits and special transportation hours.
The most vital component of Logistics Plus’ supply chain management is its 400 employees. “We look for out-of-the-box thinkers, the go-getters and the people who are aggressive and available 24/7/365 because freight doesn’t stop,” Ostapyak says.
All employees are cross-trained to understand all modes of transportation, which helps them understand customers’ business models and provide input into the supply chain design. “One thing we like to do for customer service is have our strategic account managers be integrated with customers and the supply chain process,” says Dallas Branch Manager Jenny Melgert says. “We are a third-party partner, however this is seamless to our customers because we are integrated with their logistics and supply chain by providing dedicated support.”
Because no two customers needs are the same, Logistics Plus sets itself apart by developing customer-specific solutions. “Anyone can move something from point A to point B,” Ostapyak explains. “No two customers are alike. They have specific needs, so we offer cradle-to-grave logistics. We come up with a system that will make their whole supply chain seamless. They can concentrate on what they do best by allowing us to do what we do best.”
To provide the best third-party logistics services, Logistics Plus’ employees stay up-to-date on regulation changes.
“Having our team stay on top of that education and keeping our customers informed of the changes brings value to our customers,” Fontaine says. “Some 3PL freight forwarders in our market might charge for that, but we share that and develop long-term partnerships.”
The company also uses technology to its advantage. The Logistics Plus WorldPlus™ platform is an integrated supply chain logistics management solution used in each of its offices to manage inventory, order specific parts and shipments and has the capability to connect to any other system its customers use through the cloud. The Logistics Plus application also includes eShipPlus™ – a dedicated North America Transportation Management System, and eTNTPlus™ – a specialized supply chain visibility and trade compliance management tool.
Logistics Plus has successfully competed against larger competitors for projects because of its “can-do attitude,” Ostapyak says. “We are very nimble and embrace change,” he adds. “We have helped customers lower their cost of transportation, helped with their sourcing needs and helped them leverage our technology with theirs. We are a strategic partner and get involved early with data analysis.”
The company recently oversaw and managed the delivery of 100 locomotives from GETS in Erie, Pa.; to Indonesia. The year-and-a-half-long process required a large amount of preparation and troubleshooting to ensure there was no learning curve with the first shipment, which has the greatest chance of getting delayed or overlooked.
Once the locomotives arrived by ship at the Port of Jakarta in Indonesia, top units were then trucked 341 miles to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Once the parts arrived, Logistics Plus oversaw the assembly and testing of the locomotives, and then final delivery to the Indonesian government.
Although coordinating the transportation of the locomotives was complex, it was only one piece of the puzzle. Logistics Plus also ensured the proper paperwork was filed with customs, including duty- and tax-free applications. “It was a very complex move,” Ostapyak attests. “This illustrates our can-do attitude with how complex of a move it was from the paperwork to the actual physical move.”
Logistics Plus has partnered with Canadian Solar, an Ontario-based solar manufacturer for about three years and has become an extension of its supply chain and logistics team. “It’s exciting,” Fontaine says. “Canadian Solar is one of the fastest-growing solar manufacturers in the U.S. and Logistics Plus started small with them, offering a very specific service and showing our value to them. We have earned their trust and a strategic partnership.”
Canadian Solar specializes in providing highly-efficient solar cells and modules to warehouses that are then distributed domestically in the United States and Canada. “We have a dedicated team of industry experts to service all aspects of Canadian Solar’s business ensuring quality, customization and on-time delivery,” Fontaine explains.
One of the biggest value-added services Logistics Plus performs for the company is to manage the delivery of the solar modules to its job sites. “Job sites have strict delivery deadlines and there are financial consequences if the cargo is not received by a specific date,” Fontaine explains.
Logistics Plus worked with Canadian Solar early in the process to brainstorm worst-case scenarios, which helped it eliminate the learning curve. “We want to understand what is important and the potential challenges to be successful,” Melgert adds.
Logistics Plus will continue to stay flexible and offer custom solutions to its customers while it continues to grow. Moving forward, the company plans to expand its presence in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, as well as the United States.
“We want to find the right people, partner with customers and open new offices worldwide,” Ostapyak says. “We want to continue our emergence as a new-generation, large player in the global market.”