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Interning at the Family Owned Logistics Business

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I have heard about the family logistics business for as long as I can remember.  I've heard my parents and grandparents come home and talk about the latest successes or failures of the company. I never really understood what they were discussing and wasn't always interested at such a young age.  All I cared about was sports and being outside with friends. My Summer Internship:  My name is Nick Harmon and I will be a sophmore, majoring in Business at Mount Vernon Nazerene University in Mount Vernon, OH. This summer I was given the opportunity to intern at my family's business—Spartan Logistics in Columbus, OH.  They are a  third-party logistics (3PL) logistics company, family owned and operated since 1988.  They've grown from a small, regional public warehouse and distribution provider, to a logistics company with 13 strategically placed locations throughout North America.      Typical Responsibilities on the Job: Over the summer, I was tasked with working on financial projection spreadsheet projects, assisting in marketing functions, and also hands-on experience in the warehouse.  I accompanied my Grandfather on business trips and meetings. All of these opportunities have truly changed the way I view the business and the business world. It has made me appreciate how important the family business is to so many people, and has helped me gain insight into what a successful business should look like.    Read More

Topics: Logistics Internship

Take the Necessary Steps to Recover from a Major Customer Loss.

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  Losing a key client can be devastating for any business.  This devastation is not limited to just financial loss or tarnished company brand.  There is the declining employee morale associated with the loss as well. No business has a perfect record when it comes to retention.  Even your best customers will eventually move on at some point, and not necessarily because of your lack of performance on your end.  When you come to terms with this reality, you'll be prepared for when it happens.  I've personally worked with entrepreneurs who have experienced loss at all levels. But the one thing that stings these solitary geniuses the most is losing one of their biggest clients.   Take the necessary steps to recover from a major customer loss so you're positioned to recover quickly: Be flexible with your staffing.  Creating the right types of efficiencies will ensure that your company isn't overstaffed, even on your biggest accounts.  Even if employees are dedicated to certain accounts, make sure that you have a plan for migrating your people to other areas of the company should you lose that client.  Laying people off and then hiring more resources again creates a highly volatile environment.  Read More

Topics: Customer Service Lessons

Five Steps to a Third-Party Logistics Marriage You May Not Have Considered

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It seems some of the most successful Fortune 100/500 companies have been able to grow their business profitably by outsourcing their logistics needs. Admittidely, the word "partnership" with a service provider has become exhausted — I prefer marriage.  Just like marriage, you are truly in it to reap the benefits for the long-term.   However, outsourcing isn't for everyone.  There are companies that feel they want total control, and that they can deliver a lower cost per order by handling warehousing, fulfillment and freight internally.  Doing so, some find that there is a greater impact on the bottom line.  On average, a 3PL can provide a lower cost per order compared to internally managed operations.  For those that are interested din utilizing a 3PL, but haven't taken the leap, here are 5 ways we have seen a number of clients get the most out of outsourcing.  Keep in mind that some of the points need to become a part of the negotiation process and expectations early on. 1. Creating a "Win/Win" for Both Parties I recently spoke with the Director of Logistics of a multi-million dollar manufacturing company.  He stated that their average customer had been with them just over 10 years.  They have 10 manufacturing facilities and very little square feet for production overrun in the U.S. and offshore; and they need to be closer to their customers. Think about that for a minute — that says a lot about finding a 3PL in a time when quality, low cost, and time-to-market are key to the business and profitability.  Creating a true union and win/win scenario should be the ultimate goal for both parties.  Here are a couple of things to think about: From your perspective, what are the short and long-term 3PL services you require to grow your business? Are there new systems and services a 3PL partner will invest in to provide first-rate services for your company?  Read More

Topics: Common 3pl Questions

Explaining the Layers of Logistics

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Learning the difference between a Third Party Logistics (3PL) and  Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) as well as 1PL, 2PL, and the rise of even Fifth Party Logistics (5PLs) is both confusing and highly debated among those in the supply chain industry.  While each layer of a logistics provider serves a specific purpose, it's important to remember that there are varying degrees of expertise and capabilities among each. What exactly defines a 3PL? A third party logistics company is one that manages another company's logistics operations department. 3PL is the action of outsourcing all or much of a company's logistics operations to a specialized  company.  For instance, Spartan Logistics provides its customers with turnkey 3PL services- warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, fulfillment, and transportation services. In 2008 legislation passed declaring that the legal definition of a 3PL is "A person who solely receives, holds, or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business, but who does not take title to the product."  We 3PL's have a large footprint throughout the country. This makes it viable to service clients in remote regions at a much lower cost than doing it themselves.  3PL's tend to "walk the extra mile" to accommodate many of the responsibilities that would assume a 4PL's role ultimately.            What exactly defines a 4PL? The concept of a 4PL provider is an integrator that accumulates resources, capabilities and technologies to run complete supply chain solutions.  A 4PL company takes over the logistics section of a business, managing the entire process, and at times, the 3PL.  An example here would be an appliance importer-The main function is to import appliances. However, they need to have spare parts (fans, motors, etc.) for these appliances-a 4PL would manage the total logistic operations for the spare parts business. Ok, so what about all the other "PLs?  Read More

Topics: Common 3pl Questions

Reasons for Outsourcing Logistics to a Great 3PL Like Spartan Logistics

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The obvious benefit to using a logistics company is that you don't have to do it yourself.  But the benefit really goes deeper than that.  Outsourcing warehousing and fulfillment can have a meaningful impact on your business's growth. 1. Avoid Long-Term Leases Many logistic companies offer flexible pricing.  This means that as you grow-or go through slow periods-they will be able to adapt to your needs and adjust cost accordingly.  Renting your own warehouse space usually requires more of a commitment.  Read More

Corporate Wellness Programs Create a Healthy Culture

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Spartan Logistics prides itself on giving employees the tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle- encouraging overall well being through a Corporate Wellness Program. In August of 2015 Spartan engaged the help of an outside professional to sucessfully incorporate a company-wide program. It took leadership and support and strategic communication to engage employees. The goal is to create a culture where employees choose to live a healthier lifestyle, rather than being forced to do so; and it comes with no monetary cost to the employee, other than a commitment to be accountable.  No one ever says...I can't wait to take my next insulin shot, I want to be on medication for the rest of my life for depression, or I want to feel like crap all the time. The Wellness Program A program can be successful when the experience is shared either through communal goals or - taking the opposite approach - pitting employees against each other to create healthy competition environment.  In my experience, different people are motivated by different things, and everyone loves a little competition to light a fire under their rump.Employee wellness is all the rage at many corporations today . More companies are jumping on the bandwagon each day as a means to decrease absenteeism, increase job satisfaction, and productivity.  Employees are reaping the rewards through lower health care premiums and wellness discounts. These programs are no longer your "way back in the day" doctor check-ups.  Wellness programs today often use qualified Wellness Coaches to address health on multiple levels, including emotional well-being, mental and physical health and financial wellness.  It's adaptable because health and wellness can be taken in different contexts. There's No Wrong or Right Way There really is no wrong or right way to incorporate a wellness program.  Employee wellness programs can look different across many companies. The health outcomes of corporate wellness programs are many including, quitting smoking, weight loss, obesity prevention, diabetes, and blood pressure and cholesterol management.  It means finding wellness activities employees want to be a part of, and addressing issues that are actually a challenge.  The challenge is to migrate employees from simply participating for a reward (external incentive), to a place where the new learned behavior or habit is satisfying and worth maintaining (internal incentive), such as walking while listening to your favorite music to move more.  Keep in mind, no one should ever be made to feel like they can't keep up with the others.  Employees should be monitored individually with personal goals and annual results of their engagement in the program.          Read More

My First Week With Spartan Logistics

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Following Labor Day 2016, I knew I would be starting my new role as Marketing Manager with Spartan Logistics and it would be a short week; who wouldn't be excited about that. I was informed that I was going to experience my first annual team building Managers Retreat at the end of the week, spilling into the weekend.  I've been part of many Sales/Operations meetings in my 20-year tenure, but Team Building was never implied, or practiced.  I couldn't wait to see how it was received. By Friday, all of Spartan's Managers flew or drove into Columbus, OH.  We were all expected to meet early morning in Delaware, OH at the Black Wing Shooting Center. Following a catered breakfast and a quick 'Who Am I" game, the first team building event started with two indoor separate target shooting excercises, experiencing the feel of a .22 and 9mm. It encouraged everyone to break out of their comfort zone and create friendly competition.  As I photographed the first Spartan team shooting targets, I noticed support and laughter among new and long-term employees as they viewed their target papers. Thankfully, no one got shot. Although I'm no Annie Oakley, I really enjoyed my first indoor shooting experience. Following lunch, we were all more settled in. We paired off in groups of five for the outdoor course to use a 12-guage shotgun to shoot at sporting clays, which by the way, seem to move at the speed of light. We moved through the entire course, cheering and supporting each other along the way.  Upon completion of the course, prizes were awarded to the best shooters. I would definitely shoot skeet again.        Read More

Spartan Logistics Recognized in Columbus CEO Magazine

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Spartan Logistics has been recognized in the September 2016 issue of Columbus CEO magazine, among the top 5 Central Ohio Logistics companies. The Columbus CEO Leaderboard features selected topics each month; business rankings are based on company surveys.  Read More

Talk the Talk

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Are you new to the logistics scene? Or have you been on the scene for a while but all those business calls and business talk assault your vocabulary senses? Well worry no more! The verbiage in the logistics industry can be incredibly complex. So many words are thrown around blogs, forums, and websites and can leave you scratching your head. Ever find yourself on a call or on a job and the other person is totally not speaking your language? It might sound something like this:   Read More

Why can't I find warehouse space?

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Some days this feels like the best of times for the those who operate logistics companies and who operate industrial real estate, and the worst of times for those looking for a bargain on warehouse space. Despite moderate economic growth, the U.S. industrial market continues to expand. Nationwide, warehouse vacancy decreased to 9.2%-in the first quarter of 2016. This is the lowest it has been in 15 years. In certain markets, it is even lower, sometimes just a few properties. Moreover, the Class A and B space was the first to be absorbed; much of what is currently available is Class C and D- mostly 50-year obsolete properties and shuttered manufacturing plants.  National warehouse and distribution center demand is running from between 225 million and 230 million square feet per year lease, while new supply remains at roughly 165 million square feet. Are you challenged to find high quality warehouse space and service providers where and when you need them?  Spartan Logistics has been planning for this day for 25 years.  Read More