A light bulb went off for Landstar Agent Lindley Johnson when he was contacted last year by his customer wanting advice on hiring their new transportation manager.
“I can do that as a Landstar agent. We can make it so you don’t need to hire a transportation manager,” Johnson told the customer – an industrial manufacturer of mining, ship building and energy power equipment. After all, Johnson had been doing business with the company for several years. A former Landstar BCO, Johnson became an agent in 2007 and had developed a good relationship with the customer by handling their very specialized/heavy haul freight.
Johnson says that other carriers were not selecting the right equipment for their unique freight. “That winds up costing a lot of time and extra money. My experience as a BCO gave me an advantage in that I did not make those same mistakes,” said Johnson. “I also feel like I have a personal connection to my customer that other transportation providers don’t have, and I think that’s served me well.”
The customer agreed last August to forgo hiring a new transportation manager and instead allow Johnson’s agency to manage everything. Johnson’s own confidence in his agency’s ability to succeed was due, he says, to the support he had from Landstar.
“Landstar has always said, ‘You can do all these things and we’ll have your back.’ And they did just that,” he said. ”Landstar helped assemble a team and we looked at all the customer’s data and figured out how we could do everything for them.”
Together, Johnson and Landstar developed a system that handles all of the customer’s inbound and outbound shipments, matches the right carrier based on rate and availability, and manages the customer’s more than 1,000 vendors, who contact Johnson to schedule inbound shipments.
“Steel suppliers, machine shops, fabricators, it all goes through us. We’re handling everything for them,” said Johnson, who works with the truckload side of the business and has a full-time employee that deals solely with the customer’s LTL freight. “I’m in the process of hiring an operations manager for the agency that will aid this process.”
Johnson has also partnered with fellow Landstar agents to service the company’s global air and ocean freight.
In addition to the customer not having to hire a transportation manager, Landstar has streamlined their billing process, said Johnson, who upon taking over the account hired temporary staffers to organize their billing data.
“It’s made things so much easier for them. Where they used to have multiple transportation providers, all with unique billing, now they have just one provider, with one invoice and one place to send the payments,” said Johnson. “With Landstar, they also have transparency with rates. They know what we are doing with costs at all times, which is a huge benefit to them.”
Johnson says his agency’s unique role for this customer has opened doors to potential new clients.
“This has given us access to so many vendors in similar industries that, as we grow, we can reach out to and we won’t be strangers. We now have a huge Rolodex of vendors that have already worked with us,” said Johnson. “Ship building and mining equipment are complex industries. I can’t think of two shipments that are the same – ever. There is no template. Our success with this is so exciting because I feel like if we can do it for this customer, we can do it for anybody.”