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SAN DIEGO — At a time when supply chain challenges are in the national spotlight, third-party logistics providers have a unique opportunity to advocate for their businesses and forge stronger relationships with their shipper customers and carrier partners, 3PL industry leaders said.
Anne Reinke, president of the Transportation Intermediaries Association, said the many disruptions inflicted by the coronavirus pandemic have highlighted the essential work performed by freight brokers and logistics companies.
“These past two years have reinforced what most of us here have known all along, which is just how vital and relevant the 3PLs industry is within the larger transportation system,” Reinke said at TIA’s 2022 Capital Ideas Conference & Exhibition, held April 6-9.
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During that two-year span, 3PLs have seen unprecedented freight volumes and sustained pressure and volatility in the spot market, she said, adding that supply chain disruptions “remain on the center stage and on the front page.”
Moving forward, 3PLs are well positioned to help resolve those transportation challenges through their business partnerships and understanding of the freight market, Reinke said. “3PLs demonstrate every day how their unique position at the crossroads of shippers and carriers makes them a key stakeholder in working toward a smoother supply chain.”
TIA Chairman Mike Riccio said 3PLs must strive to build better partnerships with their shippers and carriers alike.
Riccio says 3PLs should focus on strengthening industry relationships. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)
Relationships between brokers and carriers in particular were tested by the volatile market conditions of the past two years.
“We need to minimize the friction with our carrier partners,” said Riccio, who owns More Than Miles Consulting and is a former executive at trucking and brokerage firm Leonard’s Express.
Continued business growth for 3PLs also will depend on closer collaboration with shippers.
“On one hand, your shippers recognize the value that you bring to the table,” Riccio said. “On the other hand, we need to continue to strive to create and improve the relationships with shippers, so that when the worm turns a little bit, we aren’t finding ourselves out the door.”
The conference, which drew nearly 1,500 attendees and 75 exhibitors, marked TIA’s return to in-person meetings after shifting to a virtual format during the past two years amid the pandemic.
Other frequent topics of conversation at the show included capacity and labor shortages and implementing technologies to streamline business processes and enable freight to move more efficiently.
TIA leaders also encouraged 3PLs to get involved in advocacy efforts at the national and local levels to help drive better legislative and regulatory outcomes for the industry.
“We’ve got this window of opportunity on Capitol Hill and with the media to tell our story,” Riccio said. “People are starting to understand the importance of what we do.”
Reinke said TIA remains focused on key policy issues, including its opposition to proposed legislation that would threaten the independent contractor model.
Another top priority for TIA is the implementation of a motor carrier safety selection standard.
“You all operate in a system where currently 90% of the carriers are not rated by the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration],” Reinke said. “That’s untenable, so for the sake of the improved safety of the nation’s highways, we are going to continue to push for a safety selection standard that works for you.”
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