1st in a Series of Interviews with Logistics Specialists.

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I am always interested in what people think and why they think that way. I hear I am full of questions from my friends and family all the time!

I am in the logistics field and thought a series of perspectives from people in Transportation and Logistics would be kind of neat.

I would be happy to hear from others in the field that might like to be interviewed.  Anyone from Brokerages, to Owner Operators, to Managers, Operations, Carriers, Agents.    The plan is to have one a month for 12 months.

My first interview is with William Wood.

Interview with William “Thor” Wood

Owner of WTW Solutions

A Recruiting Solutions Company

 

Nancy: So do you go by William or Thor?

William: I go by both actually. Thor is my middle name and what I’ve always gone by growing up. For the more formal types I happily go by William as well.

Nancy: How did you start out in Recruiting and how did you decide on Logistics?

William:  I started in Jan of 2007.  I was recruiting for the Retail Mortgage Industry and I really enjoyed it.  I have a gift of gab and here I was getting paid for it!    Unfortunately the crash came swiftly so I had to be nimble. An opportunity arose and I transitioned into recruiting accountants for Caterpillar. Shortly after, a colleague of mine offered me an opportunity to recruit within logistics & supply chain.  I had no idea what I was getting in to, I had to learn the lingo and really take time to understand the Industry as a whole.  I started with Asset Based Companies and found the professionals they needed.  Then a medium sized non-asset brokerage contacted me needing commission-only agents.  I said “OK”, and went to work recruiting brokers Nationwide. From that point on I had found what I what my niche would be.

I was good at it so as things go, I myself was recruited by a fast growing client. It was a great experience and I am forever grateful for the 3 years I was there. By the time I set off on my own in 2013 the company had grown to be one of the top 35 largest freight brokerages in the country.

Just like the agents I was recruiting, I wanted the freedom to create my own destiny.  I wanted to be an Entrepreneur, set my own goals, be my own boss and not be so stuck to a numbers game, hence I started WTW Solutions.

This business is all about relationships.  I love finding out what candidates desire, what type of person they are, what they are lacking, where they might fit and so on.  That fact that I can help them pick and choose among my clients and not have to forcefully steer them to a program they may not like is great.   I can take my time and build that relationship and when that agent is ready to make a move, they call me.  It could be 2 weeks or two years, but because I took the time to understand them and just build that connection, they come to me first.

My client relationships revolve around company growth, through production over a period of time. It really is in my best interest to make sure the agent and the client are a great long-term fit.  I keep in touch and I really care about all involved. It is not a “one size fits all” environment. Every client and every candidate is unique with their own agenda. They want it simple and easy as possible and I work hard to provide that. I’m a match-maker plain and simple.

Nancy: What is one challenge facing the industry that you want to see addressed?

William: I think that for the Transportation Industry in general, Technology seems to be about a decade behind the times in certain respects. For all the billions of dollars of freight that is brokered every year, faxing remains integral.  People have to print, sign and scan and then email rate agreements back.  What other Industry relies so heavily on dated technology. I can’t think of one that faxes prevalently anymore.  TMS systems need to be updated so more can be done electronically.  There are companies that have this capability but as a whole it is only a fraction.  Who wants boxes and boxes of paper files sitting around?  I think we should keep it simple, the Technology is there, the industry needs to utilize it better.

 

Nancy: What would be the biggest game changer if it would happen right now?

William:  Again, I think it would be to update some of the Technology and the prevalence of its use.  There are lots of bells and whistles available on off the shelf products, so a real level of customization for a brokerage client, get what you need to make your company run as it should, seamlessly. Make it work fast and efficiently. The easier it is for a broker to broker, it stands to reason the more revenue one can produce.

Nancy: Are enough newcomers entering the Industry to match those departing due to retirement?

William:  There are lots of young people coming in for call centers and such.  The giant companies hire kids right out of high school or college.  They put them in a call center where they are competing with a thousand other people.  They step all over each other and most end up rolling out.  However, there are a tenacious few that make it and go on to do well.  Some stay and some end up going out on their own as agents after a while.

It is very tough to get into the agent field, due to requirements creating a barrier of entry. Let’s face it, the job is trying to convince shippers to shift their allegiance to you, or at the very least give you a shot on their toughest lane perhaps. Trying to find one on your own that is ready to shift can very difficult.  So it truly is a numbers game, especially in the early stages. Once you secure some committed customers life becomes a tad easier, however as a broker you need to dedicate blocks of time each week to solicit new business. Never stop doing this. It should be a standard routine.

I believe that the ones that have a leg up are the young people that follow in someone’s footsteps.  Perhaps they are a dispatcher at a Brokerage; they dispatch or are in operations in an Asset Based Brokerage. They grow and advance from there.

Sometimes a tiny fish in a giant sea gets lost, but a fish in a small or medium size lake has a better chance for success.

I think there is always a need for more young people, they always have creative and new ideas and they push the older folks to look at new ways of doing things.

Nancy: Many studies are showing that there is a Driver shortage and driver retention are a real issue now.  There is a push now for 18 year olds to be trained to drive.  What do you think about that?

William: Well, as a Father, I think that NO teenager should be on the road!  Just kidding… sort of.

I do think we need to open it up. But there would need to be an extensive training regiment.  I do not think that it would be in the interest of safety to skip steps or expedite them through the program.   Perhaps he or she would have a year or two of driving with someone then be turned out to drive alone.

However, I am not sure how many 18 year olds would want to come out of High School and jump in a truck.  Most likely companies are not going to be inundated with applicants, but I might be pleasantly surprised.

Nancy: What can we do about all the scams in this Industry?  I speak of the Drivers, Carriers, Brokers, etc that go in, scam a bunch of people, get out and then get right back in business under a different name and do it again.  These scammers have literally put good people out of business.

William:  The Industry is heavily regulated in some places but in issues like this, it is hard to get the concerted effort needed to visibly address the problem.  Perhaps we need to find a way to self-regulate better.  Such as through a free public site where people can be reported with possible documentation that shows proof of any wrong doing.  Like a Yelp, but with oversight to ensure false claims against a person or company are prevented. This would not be place for just saying a carrier did not pick up. But perhaps a site that is for keeping records on people that scam.  I am not sure how it could work specifically, nor would it be adopted with the frequency needed but I do recognize that this is a serious problem and there are ways to combat together as an industry.

Nancy: What is your biggest challenge right now?

William:  Getting the attention of the agents. By presenting unique opportunities offered through my clientele, and showcasing that they do as they say. I am overcoming the over saturation of brokerage pitches across the country.  Agents typically are not looking for a change unless there is something wrong in the here and now.  Carrier payment issues, issues extending credit to new and existing shippers, commissions not being paid or being shorted, the corporate office not holding up their end of the bargain, etc.  Whatever the reason, there are options that exist to alleviate these hurdles. Ultimately promises must be kept. Otherwise what is an agent paying the corporate office their percentage for?

Agents get multiple calls every week from recruiters that are paid to bring people over to a certain company.  There are huge promises made, the sun, the stars, and the moon. Better this, bigger that.  Whatever it takes to get the agent to move companies quickly.   Agents are inundated with the exact same message from every brokerage out there.

Most recruiters are paid at the time the agent signed the contract.  They have a small window to make sure it is a fit, then they are done.   Inherently they throw everything against the wall and hope something sticks. My niche is Agents. My commissions are paid on the success of the agent with the company over an extended period of time- think 12 months or more. I make sure that a client and an agent are a good fit long term, otherwise I run the risk of receiving nothing for my efforts.  It takes time to develop these types of client & candidate relationships and that is what I am good at.  People contact me when they need to find a proper home.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience!

Nancy: Where do you see Transportation and Logistics going in the future.

William: I think it will continue to grow and be a dynamic force.  It will be interesting to see what happens with all the consolidations and buy-outs that have happened recently. There are some huge companies out there right now and as I said before this industry is not one size fits all. Culture and accessibility are important differentiators.

I believe though there more than enough room for the smaller to midsize brokerage to have their piece of the pie.  There is a need for that personal connection that these types of companies can offer.  Relationships are built with trust, integrity and overall great service to the customer.  There are shippers that still seek the personal touch, knowing that there is not a revolving door with who they are dealing with.  Good people will gravitate towards working with and on behalf of good companies.

Nancy:  Thanks so much William for talking with me today.  I appreciate your insights!

William:  No problem, it was actually kind of fun! Thanks for listening.

 

Please contact me if you are interested in putting your “Two Cents” in to an interview.

Nancy Hallbauer

VP Of Agent Operations
Business to Business Logistics LLC
North Aurora, IL

NHallbauer@shipbtb.com

BTB Logistics