peak season shipping

Early on in Landstar Agent Jeff Baker’s relationship with a major retail customer, he was asked by a transportation manager to “make a problem go away” regarding a particularly troublesome transportation lane. For several years Baker’s agency, based out of Union, Kentucky, did just that, executing the lane flawlessly and taking away the “headache” for the customer.

So last year when a competing 3PL came up short in their ability to deliver on an important seasonal “Back to School” promotional project for over 550 of the customer’s retail stores, it was once again Baker and Landstar who came to the rescue.

“We got a call from the customer on Friday asking if we would secure 35 trailers and have them at their Fort Wayne, Indiana, distribution center to start the project by Monday. I was confident that we could, so I got off the phone and immediately contacted the Landstar regional team to help. Within an hour, they called me back and said we can make it happen,” said Baker. “We were able to get the 35 trailers out there within 48 hours. We then knocked out 180 shipments in four days when we had a week to complete it. It was the smoothest operation they had ever had for a seasonal project and they were just ecstatic.”

So ecstatic, in fact, that Baker has been awarded every seasonal promotional project from that distribution center – think Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day…and most recently the agency was awarded 400 plus shipments servicing nearly 1,650 stores for the customer’s 2014 Spring/Summer promotional season.

Key to Baker and Landstar’s success with this client is the ability to properly manage the extremely detailed and time-sensitive nature of seasonal promotional freight. The projects require that a large number of trailers be sourced and in place at the distribution center up to a week ahead of the scheduled delivery, explains Baker. He adds that the trailers are preloaded with the current seasonal merchandise to make room in the warehouse for the next season’s products. The delivery portion of the project is on an equally tight window, with the seasonal merchandise needing to be in place at over 550 retail stores served by the warehouse at essentially the same time so that one store won’t have an advantage over the other.

“It creates an absolute disaster for them if this process doesn’t go as planned,” said Baker. He and Landstar regional personnel visited the distribution center during last year’s Christmas promotional period to observe the process. “Every shelf of a 90,000-square-foot facility was filled with nothing but Christmas merchandise that within a two-week period was 100 percent moved by Landstar. And we did everything on time with zero claims – just perfect. As the Christmas items were being preloaded into our trailers, that same space was being filled with Valentine’s Day products. It was amazing.”

Even more impressive for Baker is his agency’s ability, through collaboration with the Landstar Trailer Utilization department, to manage this scale of project.

“We’re completely handling all of that for them. They tell us what they need and from that point it is up to us to get it done. It would be hard for most carriers to do this without having the powerful network of Landstar that we have access to. You couldn’t do it by yourself,” Baker says. He believes his success on the seasonal projects has led to additional opportunities including additional lanes and a recent power only project.

Landstar Region 2 Vice President Kendall Rump says Landstar’s excellent safety and on-time performance brings significant value to the customer and adds that together Baker and Landstar have come up with proposals that offer the client even more savings.

“It’s a dollar value, a time value and safety value. And the more we get to know their business, the better we’re able to do things that can help them and us grow and offer huge savings,” said Rump. “When you’re able to save the day for a customer, like Jeff has done here, it really opens up opportunities for both parties that you never knew existed.”

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