Transportation Insight Expands its Capabilities and Gains Market Share
Hickory, North Carolina USA Site Visit
January 15, 2014
Evan Armstrong

Key Personnel:
Paul Thompson, Chairman and Founder
Chris Baltz, President and Chief Executive Officer
Laura Easley, Chief Operating Officer
Reynolds Faulkner, Chief Financial Officer
Eric Lail, Vice President, Client Services and Continuous Improvement
Jim Taylor, Vice President, Information Technology
Clay Gentry, Vice President, Logistics Operations
Chris Mendenhall, Vice President, Pricing Services
Charles Moore, Vice President, Parcel Pricing
Chad Palmer, Vice President, Client Development
Rick Brumett, Vice President, Client Solutions
Sophie Dabbs, Vice President, Client Solutions
Paul Schmitz, Vice President, Client Solutions
Rod Poole, Vice President, Client Solutions
Jay Wilson, Vice President, Processing Services
Josh Walker, Vice President, Organizational Development
John Richardson, Director, Supply Chain Analytics
Lisa Farley, Director, Marketing and Public Relations

Transportation Insight Overview
Hickory, North Carolina headquartered Transportation Insight LLC (TI) was founded in 1999 and has developed into a major domestic transportation manager with extensive lead logistics provider (LLP) capabilities. Chairman Paul Thompson has built an experienced management team and total staff of over 230 associates. TI’s on pace to manage over $1.6 billion in supply chain expenditures during 2013 and generate a run rate of $800 million in annual revenues.

TI leverages its Lean Management approach in developing supply chain solutions for customers. Its solutions offering includes domestic network and transactional transportation management, LLP contract warehousing and international transportation management, supply chain consulting and network design services, business intelligence reporting, and Lean Management consulting. Its core transportation management services include: carrier contract negotiation, transportation request for proposal (RFP) development, carrier routing guide development and compliance monitoring, freight bill audit and payment, loss and damage claims processing, and daily transportation network shipment planning and execution.

TI acts as an LLP for virtually all of its major customers which include: American Tire Distributors, CARQUEST, DSI Systems, Havertys Furniture, hhgregg, Highland Products Group, Snyder’s-Lance, and Valdese Weavers.

Transportation Insight Chairman Growth and Vision Synopsis
During our visit, Chairman Paul Thompson took the time to review TI’s past growth and share his vision for the future. Thompson sees TI’s ongoing growth and business model improvement in four distinct versions—“TI 1.0” through “TI 4.0.” According to Thompson, TI’s founding business model (TI version 1.0) focused on parcel and LTL (less-than-truckload) carrier sourcing and customer cost reductions. To support the startup operations, TI developed significant proprietary transportation management systems (TMS) components, all of which are still in use today.

After the first five years of operation, TI dramatically increased its IT investment, added full truckload transportation management capabilities, improved its business intelligence reporting capabilities, and added additional network transportation management services moving it to TI version 2.0. As part of version 2.0, TI deployed MercuryGate’s TMS for transportation optimization and customer portal functions. The MercuryGate TMS integrates with TI’s proprietary system Insight TMS which is still its main operating platform.

TI began its version 3.0 in 2010 which focused on taking a holistic approach to building out its breadth of supply chain management services. It tripled the size of its inside sales group, increased its vertical industry expertise through key executive management hires, expanded its enterprise customer transportation management capabilities, enhanced its business intelligence reporting, began LLP contract warehousing operations, added Lean Management consulting services, and started developing international transportation management capabilities. It also unbundled its freight bill audit and payment services to support varying customer needs.

Today in TI version 4.0, Lean Management principles are being driven throughout TI’s organization. According to Thompson, it has developed transportation management expertise in all major transportation modes and as an LLP for warehousing and international transportation management. To that end, TI’s TMS provides visibility of all international and domestic shipments through one interface. TI has added freight brokerage operations through an acquisition of CHTL’s brokerage operations in January. To serve its customers’ strategic development needs and give businesses a complete picture of their operations, TI leverages its Supply Chain Analytics (SCA) group. The SCA group takes a continuous improvement approach to logistics engineering and helps companies build on savings generated by its Lean Management principles. The SCA group enables TI to work with customers on long-term business strategy development by providing network modeling, advanced analytics, linear optimization and supply chain scenario development via advanced tools. To round out 4.0, Thompson moved himself into a Chairman role and promoted Chris Baltz to President & CEO to manage daily operations. Thompson’s long-term goal is to help build TI’s business to $3.5 billion in gross revenues by 2020. To hit this goal, TI is looking to acquire complementary 3PL operations, further build out its service offering, and expand organically by developing business in new industries.

“Insight Fusion”¹ Business Intelligence Customer Portal
As part of TI version 4.0, it has expanded its IT platform with improved business intelligence reporting via an interactive customer portal dubbed Insight Fusion. Insight Fusion can be accessed via a web browser on a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It allows customers to customize screens and reporting parameters and offers users an easy way to view transportation cost and service metrics reports, invoice data, and industry news. For example, users can access information of volume and cost information by mode, lane, vendor, carrier, company division and location. Insight Fusion’s business intelligence reports/dashboards offer a comprehensive range of transportation metrics that can be customized to offer several levels of drill down analysis. In addition, customers can communicate with TI via the portal and download standard reports. Screenshots of the Insight Fusion transportation analytics screen and standard report download screen are below.

Insight Fusion – Transportation Analytics Screenshot

Insight Fusion – Downloadable Customer Reports Screenshot

TI Drives Lean Management through its “Extended LEAN”² Process
In February 2009, TI acquired consulting firm, Petra International, to provide TI and its customers with in-depth expertise in Lean Management principles and techniques. According to Thompson, “Lean Management skills are core to what we do in optimizing supply chains for clients. We continue to focus on how Lean principles and practices support our internal initiatives, as well as improve our clients’ operations by driving out waste and improving operational efficiencies.”

To date, TI has performed numerous Lean Certification courses for members of TI’s management and is permeating its Lean culture throughout TI’s organization. TI has provided in-depth Lean consulting services to multiple TI customers extending its Lean process beyond TI’s internal business.

Extended LEAN Case Study: Valdese Weavers
Headquartered in Valdese, North Carolina, Valdese Weavers is one of the world’s largest jacquard fabric manufacturers. It was looking for ways to remain competitive in an industry that has significant offshore competition, and Valdese Weavers’ executive management was determined to develop a long-term strategy that would help the manufacturer thrive as a market leader.

Its key supply chain management challenges were:

  1. Inbound and outbound transportation costs needed to be brought under control.
  2. Leadership needed visibility to key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and identify continuous improvement opportunities.
  3. Accounting needed help tracking down freight invoices and ensuring it was paying accurate amounts for transportation.

In 2012, Valdese Weavers began working with TI to refine its internal processes and convert its company culture to a continuous improvement mindset.

Using its Extended LEAN approach, TI took the following steps:

  • Deployed TI’s TMS empowering Valdese Weavers’ purchasing department and vendors to reduce freight costs by controlling inbound carrier routings and utilizing least-cost carriers.
  • Negotiated cost-effective parcel carrier agreements to reduce outbound freight costs.
  • Provided actionable business intelligence reporting to help Valdese Weavers’ leadership monitor KPIs.
  • Audited and paid freight invoices to significantly reduce overcharges.
  • Applied specific GL (general ledger) coding rules to freight invoices reducing non-value-added administrative time for Valdese Weavers’ accounting department.
  • Trained 10 LEAN leaders through TI’s LEAN Green Belt Certification Program to foster a shift to a continuous improvement culture across Valdese Weavers’ organization.
  • Assisted Valdese Weavers in developing a purchasing strategy to reduce costs on indirect materials such as Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) supplies, printed material, and packaging.
  • TI’s Extended LEAN approach helped Valdese Weavers reduce the time spent and overall costs from its daily supply chain processes. The results accelerated the company’s return on strategic investment in implementing traditional LEAN practices throughout its four locations. TI’s Extended LEAN helped create a shared competitive advantage for Valdese Weavers and its supply chain partners and allowed it to maintain its market leadership position. Valdese Weavers has derived over $2.7 million in savings through its partnership with Transportation Insight. How the savings were realized is highlighted in the table below.

Transportation Insight Operations Summary
By applying a Lean driven continuous improvement approach to end-to-end supply chain management, Transportation Insight has grown rapidly over the past 14 years. With a focus on staying ahead of emerging client needs, TI has expanded beyond its origins in LTL and parcel carrier management to full-scale multimodal transportation management, LLP international transportation management and warehouse management, Lean consulting, and advanced business analytics. Its approach has been successful, and as a result, TI continues to win new business.

¹Insight Fusion is a trademark of Transportation Insight.
²Extended LEAN is a registered trademark of Transportation Insight.


Sources: A&A Primary Research,

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