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NTG Slides Between Old Guard and Freight-Forwarding Disruptors

NTG

NTG Slides Between Old Guard and Freight-Forwarding Disruptors

If there is one common theme among newish freight-forwarding disruptors, it is that they seek to replace an old guard that relies on paper, clipboards, and telephones with a brave new world that relies on cloud software, analytics platforms, and smartphones.

The stakes are high: tracking and handling freight is a $1 trillion industry. And so, the business media falls all over itself to profile the likes of Qwyk, Flexport and Zencargo. It’s a small wonder that established players have moved into the freight forwarding “startup” space, as evidenced by Twill, a so-called “Maersk innovation.” Amazon is also breaking into the freight-forwarding market, as is another well-known disruptor, Uber, which launched Uber Freight in 2017 and expanded into Europe last year.

Falling somewhere between the newbies and the established players is Nolan Transportation Group (NTG), a multimodal freight brokerage firm that was founded in Atlanta in 2005. Featuring parcel, truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal transportation services for more than 7,000 customers across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico—as well as a carrier base with over 30,000 independent transportation/trucking companies that aid in facilitating the movement of clients’ products—NTG has mostly been in the news lately due to industry consolidation.

After Gryphon Investors injected capital into third party logistics company Transportation Insight in September, the private equity firm and the 3PL together acquired NTG three months later. Then, in January, NTG announced it had acquired Eagle Transportation LLC, a Mississippi-based freight brokerage specializing in temperature-controlled shipping. Out of the deal, NTG added Eagle’s expertise in cold-chain logistics and brokerage of refrigerated equipment, and Eagle received access to NTG’s vast pool of carrier representatives.

But NTG Freight is now seeking to turn industry heads with its new portal for carriers and shipping customers that went live for the public on Jan. 18, after months of beta testing. Those who log in 24/7 get real-time access “to every available shipment we have as a company,” says Garrett McDaniel, NTG’s vice president of Software Project Management. “Carriers like it because available loads are not on public boards where you have to beat out the competition to find lanes you are interested in running. The second a shipment is created, it shows up on our system as available.”

Previously, NTG communicated with its more than 8,000 companies and 100,000 trucking companies via fax, email, and phone. The portal makes that process communications and booking loads faster and easier, with bidding and rate confirmation handled automatically—and via a smartphone.

“We have created a few access levels for our preferred carriers, who not only see the loads available but the offer rate for that load as well,” McDaniel explains. “It’s created a bidding system that is pretty different than the eBay-style bidding that our competitors are doing.” With the latter, a bid amount is entered and after other bids are made, a “winning bid” is selected. But with the NTG portal, a carrier submits a couple of different amounts and is automatically chosen without having to debate.

Asked whether the new portal came about based on what customers were seeking or what NTG saw needed refinement, McDaniel answered, “A little bit of both. The platform was originally created based on some specific needs of carriers.”

You might assume here that NTG’s answer to those needs came in June 2019, when the 3PL deployed Descartes Systems Group’s MacroPoint, a cloud-based freight visibility solution. After all, Perry Falk, senior vice president of NTG’s Carrier Operations, said at the time: “Our customers can opt to get real-time visibility on every shipment we move. The drivers for our carriers can provide location updates with minimal interactions while in-transit, leaving us with happier carriers who can focus on driving safely.”

However, McDaniel corrects that the new portal’s inception actually stretches back a couple of years before that, when carriers were telling NTG as far back as 2017 that they needed online access to their payment information. “One thing they wanted was access to payments in real-time. Paperwork was missing on some loads, and they wanted to see information on available loads. Over time, as we grew as a development team, along with the experience of the users, things were refined internally.

“One of the very first versions that rolled out showed the payment status. You’d log in to see when you were being paid if you were paid already what the check number was and when it was mailed. Really within the last year, we rolled out a lot more core functionality, including bidding on loads, rate confirmation, as well as some of the customer-focused functionality as well.”

McDaniel considers all of this to be part of NTG’s mission “to improve the carrier partnership.” Relationships with loyal carriers and customers were already in place during the NTG portal’s beta phase. “We’ve received a ton of positive feedback, especially among the smaller carriers that have one to five trucks,” McDaniel says. “It’s been a great tool for them to be able to keep their trucks completely filled with loads purely by using the system.” Carriers “with thousands of trucks” also participated in the beta phase, he adds. “They were able to get in, play around with it and give us their feedback. We’ve taken a lot of the feedback and been able to implement changes.”

The live version features a redesigned front end, more user-friendliness and a more modern-feeling than the beta tester, according to McDaniel, who credits Gryphon Investors with steadfastly supporting his company’s high-tech vision. “They have been a really incredible partner in developing this application,” he says.

However, while new freight forwarding disruptors scramble to build new customer bases, McDaniel is also quick to applaud the NTG network with continuing to push his company to refine with the digital times.

“We have been around for 15 years,” he notes. “In that amount of time, we’ve grown a deep network of carriers and shipper partners. These were not acquired overnight as a tech startup disruptor.”

Which, McDaniel believes, gives NTG a competitive edge over the upstarts. “We have a pretty dedicated group of users. This is something we view as an enhancement for our carrier partners. You don’t ever want to replace human relationships. Rather, this is something that quite frankly helps strengthen that relationship with us.”

airfeight

Airfreight vs. Sea Freight – Which Works Better?

Airfreight vs. sea freight has become a burning dilemma for all those in need of this type of services. While both solutions come with a set of advantages and disadvantages, the final choice one makes will depend on a variety of factors. We are willing to share our knowledge and findings with you so that you can make the best possible decision regarding your shipment in the given circumstances. 

Airfreight vs sea freight – the costs can be a decisive factor

Undeniably, the amount of financial means necessary to afford airfreight services is considerably higher than that of sea freight. Moreover, the appearance of the largest cargo aircraft in the world announces great changes and improvements in this field. The Antonov An-225 could cause a further rise of the airfreight costs, but it will also guarantee higher quality. On the other hand, sea freight is much more affordable and, consequently, the number one choice of a vast majority of clients. Opting for sea freight provides clients with acceptable service but at a significantly lower price.

Time matters greatly!

Most often, clients want their shipment delivered as soon as possible, which can cause problems for those offering sea freight services. Not seldom do customs issues or hold-ups at ports cause serious delays. However, we must admit that a giant step forward is evident in this field. Firstly, high-quality, modern ships are much faster now than it was the case in the past. Secondly, there are some canal upgrades that can eliminate tedious and tiring delays on some routes. Finally, sea freight forwarders can guarantee delivery times, which is vital for business owners when it comes to organization.

The type of cargo affects the final choice on airfreight vs. sea freight dilemma

The type of cargo is one of the most important factors influencing the choice in the airfreight vs. sea fright dilemma. In this case, we must admit that sea fright seems like a much better solution since it has no limitations you have to be aware of. One of the crucial pros of the maritime shipping is that you can ship even the bulkiest and extremely heavy goods. Conversely, airfreight is limited in this discipline. Before you opt for this type of goods transportation, it is advisable to make sure that the type of your cargo is acceptable. In addition, there is a very long list of the items which are prohibited and those listed as hazardous materials. Depending on your final destination, the rules and laws may differ. Yet, getting sufficient information on the subject must still be the first step in the process.

Safety of your cargo is the top priority

Understandably, the safety of cargo is always the top priority. It is important to emphasize that air cargo has to be dealt with the utmost attention and in accordance with the regulations which are very strict and clear. All the crucial elements, including handling and securing your cargo as well as the proper storage, are defined by airport regulations. This is a great benefit and a guarantee that the safety of your goods will be at the maximal level. On the other hand, we cannot say that sea freight is a bad alternative either. In this case, the goods are transported in containers, but the human factor is crucial. Proper packing strategies are essential in order to decrease any chances of potential damage during transport. If this is not conducted appropriately, the chances are some of your goods might get seriously damaged or even cause further problems on the ship.

Do not forget about the accessibility of your goods

If we analyze the accessibility of your goods as one of the criteria, airfreight is a more favorable option by all means. The procedures are clear, cargo is in smaller volumes and there are no unnecessary waitings to receive your goods. Using sea freight for your cargo often results in additional costs due to heavy congestions in seaports. If your goods are not delivered at the arranged time, you are required to pay for detention and demurrage costs, which may be a heavy burden on your budget. However, we must not forget to mention an advantage sea freight offers comparing to airfreight. The accessibility to markets is much higher in case of sea freight. The reason is very simple. When unloaded from ships, containers can move further inland by using the services of intermodal shippers

Eco-friendly practices 

Finally, let us not forget about the environment when choosing between airfreight vs sea freight. Applying eco-friendly practices is becoming increasingly important, so it does not surprise this is one of the factors shippers base their decision on. According to this particular criterion, sea freight is a more reasonable option since it has a significantly better carbon footprint. Quite the opposite, airplanes are serious polluters and require special attention and measures to reduce their carbon footprint to minimal values.

Final words on airfreight vs sea freight dilemma

The decisions and choices you make concerning airfreight vs sea freight dilemma will depend on miscellaneous factors. It is of key importance to weigh the pros and cons of each of these options and then make your decision final.  A serious effort is required to negotiate the best shipping terms and only then can you expect to ship your goods completely fuss-free.

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Susan Daniels is a passionate copywriter who loves exploring home improvement ideas and real estate market. Lately, she has gained considerable knowledge in the types of moving services and the qualities of respectable moving companies such as DA Moving NYC, for example. She enjoys giving advice on the best places to live and exciting places to visit. Traveling makes her happy as well as reading good books.

Happy (Belated) Birthday, Team Worldwide

Winnsboro, Texas-based Team Worldwide, which bills itself as “a global yet locally-minded freight forwarder and 3PL company,” in January proudly celebrated is its 40th anniversary in the biz.
Father and son Joe and Bobby Brunson established Team Worldwide in 1979 as a small, regional freight forwarder in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The company’s mission was “to develop a long-term relationship with each customer by providing a logistics network that offers a variety of innovative and reliable services now and for the future.” Under the third generation of family leadership, the company remains committed to the same principles.
Of course, from humble beginnings Team Worldwide built itself up to the point where its corporate headquarters in Winnsboro boasts of more than 100,000 square feet of office and warehouse space, on grounds that accommodate a state-of-the-art data and technology center that supports 40-plus locally owned branches in North America and a global customer base.
 “We appreciate this opportunity to say ‘Thank You’ as we celebrate 40 years of service,” says Team Worldwide. “We proudly remain large enough to serve you but small enough to know you!”