Executive Briefings

There Are No More Traditional LTLs

The operations of less-than-truckload carries have changed so dramatically in the last two decades that they bear little resemblance to the traditional LTL model that was prevalent for decades, says Brad Morris, vice president of marketing at AAA Cooper, a regional LTL carrier operating in the Southeast.

Morris says that technology, flexibility, diversification and rapid adaptation to specific customer requirements are a few characteristics that make today's LTL carriers a different breed.

"Twenty years ago transit time was 90 percent of a carrier's service performance, Morris says. While still of "the utmost importance," other equally important factors are part of today's performance measures. "The technology you can offer customers, speed of communications and visibility to shipments are also critical," he says. Additionally, Morris says that it is untenable in today's environment to offer only one service or one solution to customers. This has driven many LTL carriers, including AAA Cooper to open other service divisions. "In our case, we have opened up a port services division to help our customers distribute from the ports, in many cases with direct services that bypass a distribution center," he says. AAA Cooper also has opened a dedicated services division, Morris says, adding that several customers combine services from all three of its divisions to fit their specific supply chain needs. "What it comes down to today is that you have to analyze and serve each customer individually," he says.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the importance of maintaining strong customer relationships, Morris says. "Relationships are still the heart of this business, even in markets that are very price- and service-driven. That is a part of our tradition that we believe will never change - and we wouldn't have it any other way."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.

Morris says that technology, flexibility, diversification and rapid adaptation to specific customer requirements are a few characteristics that make today's LTL carriers a different breed.

"Twenty years ago transit time was 90 percent of a carrier's service performance, Morris says. While still of "the utmost importance," other equally important factors are part of today's performance measures. "The technology you can offer customers, speed of communications and visibility to shipments are also critical," he says. Additionally, Morris says that it is untenable in today's environment to offer only one service or one solution to customers. This has driven many LTL carriers, including AAA Cooper to open other service divisions. "In our case, we have opened up a port services division to help our customers distribute from the ports, in many cases with direct services that bypass a distribution center," he says. AAA Cooper also has opened a dedicated services division, Morris says, adding that several customers combine services from all three of its divisions to fit their specific supply chain needs. "What it comes down to today is that you have to analyze and serve each customer individually," he says.

One thing that hasn't changed, however, is the importance of maintaining strong customer relationships, Morris says. "Relationships are still the heart of this business, even in markets that are very price- and service-driven. That is a part of our tradition that we believe will never change - and we wouldn't have it any other way."

To view this video in its entirety, click here.