3PLs can strengthen partnerships, champion industry, say TIA executives

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SAN DIEGO — At a time when supply chain challenges are in the spotlight nationwide, third-party logistics providers have a unique opportunity to defend their businesses and forge stronger relationships with their shipper customers and their 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 done by freight brokers and logistics companies.

“These past two years have reinforced what most of us here have known all along, which is how vital and relevant the 3PL industry is within the larger transportation system,” Reinke said during the talk. TIA’s Capital Ideas 2022 Conference and Expo, held from April 6 to 9.

During this two-year period, 3PLs have experienced unprecedented freight volumes and sustained pressure and volatility in the spot market, she said, adding that supply chain disruptions ” remain center stage and on the front page”.

Going forward, 3PLs are well positioned to help solve these 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 player in working towards a smoother supply chain.”

TIA President Mike Riccio said 3PLs must strive to build better partnerships with their shippers and carriers.

Riccio says 3PLs should focus on building industry relationships. (Seth Clevenger/Transportation Topics)

Relationships between brokers and carriers in particular have been tested by the volatile market conditions of the past two years.

“We need to minimize friction with our carrier partners,” said Riccio, owner of More Than Miles Consulting and a former executive at trucking and brokerage firm Leonard’s Express.

Continued growth of the 3PL business will also depend on closer collaboration with shippers.

“On the one hand, your shippers recognize the value you bring to the table,” Riccio said. “On the other hand, we need to keep striving to build and improve relationships with shippers, so that when the worm turns a bit, we don’t end up at 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 over the past two years amid the pandemic.

Other frequent topics of conversation at the show included capacity and labor shortages and the implementation of technology to streamline business processes and allow freight to move more efficiently.

TIA leaders also encouraged 3PLs to get involved in advocacy efforts at the national and local levels to help achieve better legislative and regulatory outcomes for the industry.

“We have 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 the TIA remains focused on key policy issues, including its opposition to the bill that would threaten the independent contractor model.

Another top priority for TIA is the implementation of a motor carrier safety screening standard.

“You are all operating in a system where currently 90% of carriers are not rated by the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration]”, Reinke said. “This is untenable, so in the interest of improving the safety of the country’s highways, we will continue to push for a safety selection standard that works for you.

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