BlueGrace Logistics recently hosted their 2016 National Conference right here in Tampa, Florida. This was the company’s 6th installment and biggest conference yet with action-packed keynote speakers like Cameron Herold, Bobby Harris, Afterburner, Inc, and Travis Mills. The location was a huge hit as well, as it was the first time the entire company came back to where it all began.
Welcome to Tampa | Meet & Greet Mixer
The 2016 National Conference kicked off with an opening reception Sunday night at the Tampa Marriott Waterside, where employees, franchisees, regional and branch offices could gather and meet new people and see old friends. For some it was their first time interacting in person, since many of the franchises and locations had been acquired in 2016. Putting faces to the names was the goal of this event and it would spark conversations that lasted the entire 3 days.
Putting faces to the names was the goal of this event and it would spark conversations that lasted the entire 3 days
“This was a great opportunity for our our offices out on the west coast and mid west to meet our employees from the east coast,” said Adam Blankenship, Executive Vice President of Operations at BlueGrace Logistics.
Monday Morning | Day 1
Monday morning started bright and early with an employee breakfast and an official kick-off message from BlueGrace Logistics CEO & President, Bobby Harris. His message touched on how BlueGrace performed in 2016 and what BlueGrace is projecting for 2017. He covered every single angle of the current status of the business and really brought his message home when he announced a huge rebranding for the company. The rebranding consists of a new logo, tagline, website redesign, and much more.
The rebranding consists of a new logo, tagline, website redesign, and much more.
“This branding revamp has been in the works for a while, but the whole concept came about in a very organic way. Because of the amount of effort put into the logo change, we weren’t even sure it would happen, but now we couldn’t be happier with the final results and feedback.” said Bobby Harris, CEO, Founder & President of BlueGrace Logistics.
The excitement started early with the BlueGrace rebranding announcement and would continue non-stop for the remainder of the conference. The schedule would include prominent speakers and breakout sessions to help bring the entire company together and land on the same page with the 2017 goals.
Keynote Speakers | Day 1
After Harris wrapped up his presentation and a quick break, Cameron Herold, the “COO Whisperer” addressed the company with a powerful message. He touted high level leadership development qualities and generated a buzz with “Building a World Class Company”. As an experienced speaker and author, Cameron has an uncanny ability to draw the audience in and leave them inspired to simplify their daily tasks and and keep the company goals in line with their own.
“Cameron really delivered a solid message and left all the fluff out. He kept it real and talked about how to build a company with the people you want on your team.” said Vanessa Castillo, Vice President of BG Freight.
Breakout Sessions | Day 1
The remainder of Day One consisted of two tracks and one roundup for different employee types; Sales and Leadership. The first track was an eye-opening sales training for the BlueGrace sales teams from around the country. The focus was to learn how to sell under different circumstances and to many types of shipping customers. The sales team learned that by taking more time to listen and really understand the logistics pain points for each potential customer, they could utilize the entire BlueGrace “toolbox” and help solve their specific issues.
There was also a new leadership development track with an in-depth overview of each BlueGrace department.
There was also a new leadership development track with an in-depth overview of each BlueGrace department. Leadership from every department prepared specific messages to engage and empower employees. There were detailed discussions on employee engagement and human resources, explaining how the hyper-growth at BlueGrace would be managed, so every employee would be happy and healthy.
BlueGrace sales associates recieved a one-on-one presentation from Roadrunner Freight’s Grant Crawford.
In addition to the Sales track, the BlueGrace sales associates recieved a one-on-one presentation from Roadrunner Freight’s Grant Crawford. He had the entire sales staff’s attention as he discussed the new branding, capabilities and dedication of Roadrunner as a trusted carrier for the logistics industry. With a detailed presentation on 2016 numbers and 2017 predictions, Grant demonstrated Roadrunners track record for effective freight management and how all of the sales staff could benefit by using them for their current customers.
The remaining option available to the Sales staff was a carrier roundup. In a structured table to table roundup, the BlueGrace sales staff had the time to move from carrier to carrier and learn more about their services and programs. BlueGrace invited carriers to not only attend the conference, but to sit and talk with the sales staff to answer questions and provide direct answers about how their services can help customers achieve their freight objectives. At its conclusion, the feedback on the carrier roundup was very positive with many opportunities shared and discussed.
Monday Night Festivities | Slapshots on Ice at Amalie Arena
Being the Preferred Shipping Partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team has its perks! The Tampa Marriott Waterside is directly across the street from the Amalie Arena, the home of the Lightning, so BlueGrace jumped at the opportunity for an on-ice experience. Vendors, carriers and employees were invited to the Amalie Arena for a VIP Tampa Bay Lighting event. Amalie Arena was open to just the BlueGrace conference attendees which gave everyone the opportunity to take a couple slapshots on the NHL team’s ice.
Being the Preferred Shipping Partner of the Tampa Bay Lightning NHL team has its perks!
“We wanted to give all of our BG family a unique opportunity to go down onto the ice of a top ranked NHL team and take a slap shot, and they all loved it,” said Harris.
After everyone took their shots on the ice, the night concluded with hors d’oeuvres, drinks and an additional carrier reception in the Chase Club, a premier sporting event entertainment area within Amalie Arena. The carrier discussions continued until the early evening as Day 1 came to a close.
Tuesday Morning | Day 2
Tuesday kicked off with an exciting presentation from Afterburner, Inc. This group consists of retired military service members who served in leadership roles within elite units of the Armed Forces and consider themselves performance improvement experts. Their main focus was “Flawless Execution.” They fired up the crowd with examples of how they used a “debrief” to both prevent mistakes from happening and for learning from them after they do. The conference crowd left the room excited to utilize what they have learned to help all forms of business communication, from internal to customer interaction.
Day 2 presentations from BlueGrace management were a bit more in-depth. The IT department discussed many of the new tools being added to the BlueShip platform in 2017 that would enhance ease of use, increase the options for the customer and streamline the freight process even more. A round of applause came after IT committed to finishing development in 2017 for all new projects they discussed in their presentation. As the IT department tripled in size in 2016, the ability to add new options simplified billing to additional mode options has become a reality. BlueShip will continue to be on of the industries leading TMS products in 2017 and beyond.
BlueShip will continue to be on of the industries leading TMS products in 2017 and beyond.
Enterprise had the sales staff excited with their presentation on how BlueGrace engages with our larger customers. While discussing how to interact with types of customers by handing them off to the Enterprise team, they also discussed some of the reasons why BlueGrace is the best partner for these businesses. After receiving the current shipping data provided by a potential customer, Enterprise can run the numbers through our proprietary formulas and reporting systems to generate exciting and time/money saving opportunities.
Enterprise can run the numbers through our proprietary formulas and reporting systems to generate exciting and time/money saving opportunities.
From distribution models to preferred carriers and on-time delivery options, the Enterprise team at BlueGrace can move more product, more effectively for our customers. As the presentation explained, it does not end there. After the customer in engaged with BlueGrace the reporting and optimizing continues and the program will only get better through new time/money saving options being constantly updated and developed.
Tuesday Keynote Speakers | Day 2
After the morning presentations, it was time for a keynote from Dave Ross, Managing Director of Global Transportation and Logistics at Stifel Nicolaus. As one of the top financial analysts in the logistics industry, David waspicked #1 by the Wall Street Journal’s Best on the Street Analysts Survey in the industrial transportation industry. His view of the logistics industry is deep and robust.
He was able to discuss with the BlueGrace team as well as the carriers, the impact of 2016 market situations and what the future holds for our industry.
He was able to discuss with the BlueGrace team as well as the carriers, the impact of 2016 market situations and what the future holds for our industry. The inner workings of the financial side of logistics was on full display as he presented what to expect in 2017 with a new president and coming industry regulations and changes.
Travis Mills > Never Give Up. Never Quit.
The final keynote speaker was recalibrated warrior and motivational speaker, Travis Mills. Despite losing portions of both arms and legs from an IED blast while on a deployment to Afghanistan, Travis continues to overcome life’s challenges, breaking physical barriers and defying odds.
Travis lives by his motto: “Never give up. Never quit.” Travis infused his humor and military background to get the BlueGrace team thinking about what is really important in their lives. To focus on the things you can control and no matter where life takes you, stay on the good side, because if he can do it so can you. Travis stayed after for an hour signing his book and taking pictures with anyone who wanted one, he was a true inspiration the BlueGrace Logsitics team.
We can’t thank him enough for his service and sacrifice. Travis you are a true inspiration.
Tuesday Night Festivities | Gala Celebration at the Oxford Exchange
Originally built in 1891 as a stable for the Tampa Bay Hotel, 420 West Kennedy Boulevard has gone through several transformations in its long history. At this amazing Tampa location, BlueGrace put on an event that would not soon be forgotten. The entire location was rented out and and the fun loving conference attendees filed in.
The Oxford put on a great party with a cocktails, a sit down dinner with fine food and an great dance floor.
The Oxford put on a great party with a cocktails, a sit down dinner with fine food and a great dance floor. The live band came all the way from Jacksonville and played just the right music as the attendees danced the night away. It was an amazing end to the best BlueGrace National Conference yet. We would like to thank all of our attendees, employees, carriers and sponsors for making it an event to remember and look forward to an even better event in 2017!
We would like to thank all of our attendees, employees, carriers and sponsors for making it an event to remember and look forward to an even better event in 2017!