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CEO of XPO Logistics Shares Thoughts on Growth Through Acquisitions

XPO Logistics has grown dramatically, both organically and through acquisitions, including most recently those of Pacer and NLM. CEO Brad Jacobs talks about the integration of these companies and XPO's overall growth strategies.

XPO Logistics has gone from zero to $2bn-plus in revenue in under three years. The key to that explosive growth, says Jacobs, is having a balanced approach between organic growth and acquisitions. In just the past two and a half years, the company has completed 11 strategic acquisitions, and in the most recent quarter organic growth was 51 percent company-wide and 75 percent in the freight brokerage business.

XPO’s most recent acquisition, completed April 1, was of intermodal company Pacer International. “Intermodal capability is something our customers are asking for,” says Jacobs. “When Pacer came on the market, we saw it as a very attractive opportunity. Pacer was the third-ranking intermodal provider overall and, more importantly, was the number one provider of cross-border intermodal service to Mexico. We believe this market will become increasingly important as more companies implement near-shoring strategies and we want to participate in that.”

Pacer already is fully integrated into the XPO Logistics network, says Jacobs. “It operates as XPO Logistics domestically, but we still use the Pacer name for cross-border service and in Mexico because Pacer is a very well-known brand in that market.” All IT, back office and sales functions are fully integrated, Jacobs says, “and we are cross-selling each other’s services.”

Cross-selling offers huge opportunities for growth, Jacobs says. “Pacer had a fantastic relationship with a few dozen large shippers, but it was only selling them intermodal, which is only about 5 percent of those shippers’ total spend. Now we are leveraging Pacer’s great relationships and cross-selling those customers truck brokerage and expedited last-mile services, where we are leaders. Similarly, we previously were not able to offer XPO customers a great intermodal service or cross-border service into Mexico, and we are finding great receptivity among them for those offerings.”

Another acquisition that “was very exciting for us,” was the purchase late last year of NLM from Landstar, says Jacobs, who claims the NLM addition boosted XPO to the number one position in North America for expedited freight. “NLM allows us to conduct online auctioning of expedited shipments. We have 12-minute auctions, with as many as 20 to 30 carriers bidding, all day long. With this electronic bidding, XPO will manage more than $1bn in expedited freight movements this year with only 125 people.”

XPO also is a leader in last-mile logistics and white glove deliveries. “We are the largest deliverer of home goods like kitchen appliances and one of the top two deliverers of TV sets and furniture,” says Jacobs. One of the reasons for this success is XPO’s substantial investments in technology to measure customer satisfaction delivery by delivery, he says. “We use those measures as the basis for compensating our people, so everyone is very passionate about customer service.”

Jacobs says XPO overall has a $70m technology budget, which averages out to about $280,000 per working day. “We are very happy to do that, because we are investing in interactive capabilities that enable us to save money for our customers and carriers. “As long as we keep our people happy and engaged and as long as we are on the leading edge of technology, we will be able to service all our stakeholders effectively.”

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