TTS’ Agent-Centric Model for Growth

Dallas, Texas USA
May 3, 2010
Kurt Baumann

TTS Personnel:
Andy Cole, President & Chief Executive Officer
Dennis Farnsworth, Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer
David Miller, Vice President Customer Development
Rob Ebinger, Vice President Agency Development
Jeffrey Vielhaber, Vice President Operations
Christi Fox, Controller

Quick Rise to the Top 25 Freight Brokers List
Established in 2006 and formerly known as Total Transportation Services, TTS has a short history as a company, but many years of experience. Its seasoned executives have a firm grasp on the keys to deliver excellent service to its agents and grow a third-party logistics (3PL) transportation management company. The TTS management team’s approach to business was formed through years of experience, helping to grow agency-based transportation companies. TTS’ agents have maintained many of their relationships with premier companies, being a catalyst for their growth. In 2009, Transport Topics ranked TTS LLC as 17 in its Top 25 Freight Brokerage Firms list, based on $250M in gross revenue.

According to Andy Cole, president and chief executive officer, treating agents like customers is a key element of the business model and company culture. TTS values the agents’ entrepreneurial spirit, which is apparent from its “Wall of Fame” in the lobby of its corporate office in Frisco, Texas, featuring a framed copy of the first TTS invoice from every agent. Andy’s team focuses their efforts on helping their 45 agents to become more operationally efficient by streamlining processes and implementing technology to increase their productivity, thereby, allowing the agents

to focus on business development and delivering outstanding service to their customers. TTS handles all the daily hassles of paperwork, administration, invoicing, credit and collection. Agents utilize TTS’ advanced transportation technology, sourcing capacity and financial strength as a global company. TTS has also worked hard to expand its 3PL services portfolio to address a greater range of its agents’ customers’ requirements.

Non-Asset Based. Multi-Modal. Diverse Commodities.
The model appears to be working. In four short years, TTS has reached a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31% and expanded its 3PL services scope from multi-modal domestic freight brokerage to include freight management, contract logistics, air forwarding, ocean forwarding as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), and now customs brokerage. TTS is also C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certified. This rapid growth required TTS to move into a new, larger corporate office in Frisco, Texas with 40% additional capacity to accommodate continuing growth.

With over 190,000 shipments logged in 2009, TTS procures substantial capacity from a stable of roughly 20,000 carriers. It leverages this volume so that TTS’ agents can offer competitive rates and reliable capacity to their customers. While two-thirds of TTS’ domestic transportation revenue is static truckload, they also offer less than truckload (LTL), intermodal and box car. TTS has 25 years of in-house expertise in intermodal and contracting relationships with all Class 1 railroads.

Coors, now MillerCoors, has been a long time customer in the agent network. TTS provides transportation management services for both inbound and outbound, primarily shipping beer from plants to distributors. While much of MillerCoors’ outbound freight historically utilized refrigerated trailers, over the past two years, TTS has helped MillerCoors to convert a significant portion of its volume to dry vans at a lower cost and without sacrificing product quality. On-site personnel at MillerCoors coordinate inbound shipments to plants, as well as participate in management of the reverse logistics program.

TTS is experienced in handling a broad spectrum of commodities for various industries. For example, TTS serves as a key logistics service provider to T-Mobile by shipping telecommunications infrastructure equipment for cell tower construction across the country, including specialized equipment delivery. In some cases, TTS combines orders to expand mode switching opportunities and streamline the freight tendering process. Given T-Mobile’s unique shipping requirements, TTS created a web-based custom order entry application for shipping cell towers and equipment.

Scalable. Account-Focused. Global.
TTS’ agents are located throughout the US, providing both a local presence in major markets and national coverage. They can leverage multiple facilities as needed to support the movement of goods across the country and through port facilities.

Figure 1. TTS Agent Locations

While their service model is scalable, TTS’ agents are not restricted geographically in terms of business development. Their business growth relies on key customer relationships, many of which are far older than TTS as a business. Many of their customers are well-recognized Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Most of these customers have global operations, which presented the opportunity for TTS to expand its service portfolio and scope.

In 2007, TTS, LLC formed TTS – Worldwide, LLC in response to the global logistics needs of its agents’ customers. By acquiring in-house expertise, TTS Worldwide was able to apply its business model and technology to provide ocean and air import and export services, including cargo booking and pick-up, consolidation, containerization, drayage, document preparation, cargo tracking and tracing, and customs brokerage.

Scott Farms, one of the world’s largest producers of sweet potatoes, is one of TTS’ international customer success stories. TTS handles export activity to Europe for Scott Farms and has developed a reputation for continuously working to improve its customer’s business.

Scott Farms was paying a premium for refrigerated freight to maintain product quality. TTS tested and deployed pallet wraps, insulated container kits and finally desiccant material, which resulted in substantial cost savings per container. This solution enabled Scott Farms to ship over 100 additional containers to its UK customers by passing along the cost savings. This seemingly simple change has helped Scott Farms to become the largest supplier of sweet potatoes in the UK with 40% market share.

Proprietary IT for Automation, Decision Support and Better Visibility

Figure 2. TTS’ Proprietary TMS Functionalities

As a leading 3PL service provider, TTS understands that superior IT capabilities are a key competitive differentiator. Robust systems help to automate processes, capture vital data for decision support, and provide visibility to orders and shipments. TTS has deployed a robust TMS and continues to enhance its functionality, which includes:

  • Web-based order entry and processing
  • Electronic data interchange (EDI) capabilities for customers and carriers
  • Shipment sourcing, planning and optimization
  • Carrier selection and management based on multiple rate bases and compliance
  • Web-based visibility to shipment data including shipment execution, tracking, excepting resolution, bill of lading and proof of delivery

Financial settlement including invoice auditing and resolution, simplified carrier remittance and invoice consolidation
Custom reporting and analysis tools, providing valuable information to customers
By taking ownership of IT systems development, TTS can quickly build custom solutions for its agents’ customers. From concept to delivery, it took TTS two weeks to provide MillerCoors with a custom solution to manage carrier compliance information, which seamlessly captures safety and insurance information from SaferSys and CarrierWatch.

TTS’ order management capability and shipment detail allows its agents to optimize shipments and quickly assess the status of loads to ensure on-time pickup and delivery. Other custom developed functionality provides TTS’ agents with a breadth of logistics analysis and reporting capability, which includes:

  • Comprehensive supply chain review and network design
  • Facility location and layout appraisals
  • Total logistics cost analysis
  • Lane and fleet analysis
  • Process engineering and predictive modeling
  • Mode evaluation and selection
  • Shipment sourcing and planning
  • On-time pick-up and delivery
  • Freight bill pre-audit and post-audit
  • Revenue and profitability analysis
  • Fuel tax reporting

TTS hasn’t overlooked the need to make carriers more efficient by leveraging technology. Approved TTS service providers gain access to its web-based TMS, allowing them to easily manage their business with TTS, which includes viewing available TTS shipments, real-time status updates and invoice payments. New tools are coming online to allow simple, low-cost communication of shipment status. Load planners can quickly access electronic carrier routing guides and rates, electronically tender loads and capture acceptance. TTS’ system also handles the full range of EDI transaction formats and offers electronic document imaging and management.

Growth Strategy
Even in a down market, TTS continues to grow revenue by attracting successful agents who recognize TTS’ ability to make them more efficient and effective. In turn, TTS’ agents can offer more competitive rates and consistent service to their customers. With expansion of its service portfolio and global footprint, TTS’ agents are finding opportunities to expand their service offering to customers. A key element of its successful business model is continuous development of advanced information technology. Through its scalable TMS, TTS’ in-house development team can quickly respond to its agents’ customers’ unique requirements, which includes critical management information and analysis tools for greater awareness and control of transportation costs. As the market recovers and capacity tightens, impacting transportation costs and availability, TTS’ services will be even more valuable to its agents and their customers.

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