Five Questions: Chris DeMillo, Leonard's Express

'I've Always Been Interested in Process Improvement,' Says Vice President of Information Technology
Chris DeMillo
Chris DeMillo was promoted to his current role in September after holding several IT positions at the company. (Leonard's Express)

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As vice president of information technology at Leonard’s Express, Chris DeMillo is shaping the future of the refrigerated carrier’s IT strategy.

DeMillo was promoted to his current role in September after holding several IT positions at the company. He joined Leonard’s Express in 2005 and was mentored by co-owner Kyle Johnson on all things technology and transportation. “I’ve always been interested in process improvement, automation, analytics and connecting integrations,” DeMillo said.

Leonard’s Express, headquartered in Farmington, N.Y., provides asset-based refrigerated and dry van truckload carriage as well as intermodal, freight brokerage and warehousing services. The company ranks No. 91 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America.

 Describe some of the most effective ways your company is using technology to improve its operations and address its unique challenges.

At Leonard’s, we use technology to increase data integrity, analyze and monitor our business operations, contain costs, drive revenue and simplify workflows within the procurement-to-cash cycle of freight management. Partnering with leading vendors to create connected synergies, integration and visibility is at the core of making all those successful. By leveraging technology in this manner, our people can work on more value-added and complex tasks and focus on delivering best-in-class service to our internal and external customers.

 What are some of the top day-to-day issues and concerns you encounter in your role, and how do you deal with them?

As our industry matures with some of the latest technological improvements, finding ways to leverage them practically and safely is a continual task I face in my role. The more technology we inject into our operations, the more disruption and security vulnerabilities can occur. We like to be on the leading edge, not the bleeding edge, of technology and finding that balance of risk to take daily is a never-ending challenge.

What emerging technologies are you watching most closely, and which do you believe hold the most potential to improve freight transportation?

Artificial intelligence and machine learning rank at the top of my list of technologies that will impact our industry. As the complexity, speed and demands of our industry continue to grow, AI and ML will shine in many areas such as new business development, transactional freight execution and improving safety, to name a few. Introducing these technologies means rethinking the way we currently conduct business and accepting these newfound solutions. Trust can be a major roadblock to adoption as it’ll go against the core of what we know, so training and communications will be critical.


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What steps has your company taken to protect itself from cybersecurity threats?

Several layers need to be built into the IT infrastructure to protect intellectual property and business operations. Multifactor authentication, complex passwords and network hardening are a must. We invest in continual education for end users and have a disaster recovery vendor help monitor backups and perform routine test outages. If an event were to occur, we are protected by cybersecurity insurance as well.

Look ahead 10 years. How do you envision the advance of technology changing the trucking industry over the next decade?

The advancement of technology will continue to root out manual processes in many areas of our supply chain by increasing digital connectivity with tighter integrations. Further investment in cloud computing will provide faster connections to different platforms and increased visibility into the supply chain. The adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning will help accelerate a change in the way we operate and make better business decisions. It’s exciting to be in the middle of this evolution and have input into shaping it.

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