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The Evolution of Shopping: Capitalizing on Omnichannel Retailing

 

There are many aspects of our daily lives that we tend to take for granted, at least when you compare it from it’s origins to where we are now. Communication, for example, has come a long way when you look at the evolution of the telephone to the cellular marvels that are housed in just about every pocket around the world. Shopping is another necessary aspect of daily life that has evolved considerably from its origins. Retailers need to understand these changes that are happening now, are going to be crucial if they want to stay in business.

Shopping is another necessary aspect of daily life

Disruption Breeds Change

Shopping is equal parts necessity and leisure activity for today’s population. We go to the store to buy the things we need for daily life such as consumable items and domestic goods. But there’s also the aspect of bargain hunting which thrills some consumers to no end. In either instances, there have been some considerable disruptions throughout the history of commercialism that have changed the scope and shape of the game. These disruptions, according to the Harvard Business Review, take place about every 50 years or so.

Shopping is equal parts necessity and leisure activity for American population

“A century and a half ago, the growth of big cities and the rise of railroad networks made possible the modern department store. Mass-produced automobiles came along 50 years later, and soon shopping malls lined with specialty retailers were dotting the newly forming suburbs and challenging the city-based department stores. The 1960s and 1970s saw the spread of discount chains—Walmart, Kmart, and the like—and, soon after, big-box “category killers” such as Circuit City and Home Depot, all of them undermining or transforming the old-style mall. Each wave of change doesn’t eliminate what came before it, but it reshapes the landscape and redefines consumer expectations, often beyond recognition. Retailers relying on earlier formats either adapt or die out as the new ones pull volume from their stores and make the remaining volume less profitable.”

Omnichannel Shopping, is going to pose a considerable change for brick-and-mortar retailers

The newest disruption, Omnichannel Shopping, is going to pose a considerable change for brick-and-mortar retailers, one that will facilitate the need to adapt or step out of the game entirely.

The Best of Both Worlds: Capitalizing on Omnichannel Retailing

As with just about any industry, when new technology comes into play, you either adapt and succeed or you fail. However, understanding the bridge between having a physical store and an online presence, isn’t impossible. It’s about putting customer service at the forefront. While online sales are great, especially when there are customers who don’t live within easy travel distance to the actual store, brick and mortar stores are still very important. This is especially true when you consider the fact that Amazon, which started exclusively as an e-commerce business, is now building physical locations for their shoppers. Why would Amazon want a brick-and-mortar storefront when their customers can literally shop for just about anything from the comfort of their own homes with a few simple clicks? It’s easy, shopping in store gets shoppers to buy more.

Amazon, which started exclusively as an e-commerce business is now building physical locations for their shoppers

Impulse buys and tactile shopping (the ability to touch and feel things like clothes) actually generate higher sales than shopping online does. A customer can feel the item, take in the sensations of the display and try it out for themselves, rather than trying to guess at it from a screen. This is one reason why retail stores need to keep their physical presence up before delving into the digital realm.

Transportation and Logistics can be a Big Opportunity for E-Commerce

While physical retailers will have to look into making digital investments, digital retailers are gearing up to make logistics investments. Given the rate of growth for online sales, expedited logistics and transportation is a fast growing industry. Consumers want to be able to order their goods and either have them delivered same or next day, or have the option to pick it up at the closest store. In order to make that happen, there needs to be a fairly substantial increase in the flexibility of transportation and logistics. The standards for a company’s supply chain are no longer about just getting goods from A to B. It’s more like A to Z12  and then the logistic support necessary for omnichannel retailers becomes infinitely more complex.

There needs to be a fairly substantial increase in the flexibility of transportation and logistics

Getting the infrastructure in place to make these deliveries in a timely manner will pay dividends for e-commerce companies, an opportunity that many aren’t willing to pass up.

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BlueGrace Logistics Enterprise Division Announces the Promotion of Dustin Snipes

Snipes Earns Director of Sourcing Strategy Title

In a wave of growth, longtime sales standout, Dustin Snipes, was recently promoted to the Director of Sourcing Strategy for the Enterprise Division at BlueGrace Logistics.

“This only adds to the excitement and joy that I have been able to experience over the last 6 years. BlueGrace is an amazing place to grow and I am allowed the opportunity to do that and work with incredible people on a daily basis.” said Snipes.

Dustin began his career with BlueGrace in 2010.

Dustin began his career with BlueGrace in 2010, and has held the roles of National & Inbound Sales Rep, National & Inbound Sales Manager. Dustin was National Sales Rep of the Year in 2011 & National Sales Manager of the Year in 2013.

“Along with his incredible talent in sales, he was also instrumental in developing our marketing & sourcing strategies,” said Adam Blankenship, CCO and EVP at BlueGrace Logistics.

Dustin Snipes – Director of Sourcing Strategy

In 2015 Dustin joined the Enterprise Division as the Enterprise Sourcing Manager, in which he developed sourcing strategies to help EDRs research, qualify, and quantify Enterprise Leads. His team has grown from 2 to 17.

His team has grown from 2 to 17.

“Dustin took on one of the most vital roles in the company and arguable the weakest link in our sales process.  He worked through cleaning up our data, developing the strategy and tactics to build a team of EDR’s that were set up for success,” continued Jason Lockard, Senior Vice President, Enterprise at BlueGrace Logistics, “We are now recognizing the results of his hard work over the last year.”

The Enterprise Division at BlueGrace has grown to over 50 team members across 5 locations in the United States since 2010.

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

 

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People are the Most Critical Part of the Trucking Industry

 

With the turning of the year, the World Economic Forum has compiled it’s list of concerns for what will be effecting the fiscal stability of the world for the rest of the year. While there were a number of items listed as to what will be impacting the global economy, perhaps the main one was the concern over technology.

Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace over the past few years

Technology has been advancing at a rapid pace over the past few years, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Most of it has been geared towards automation, reducing the need for human interaction and therefore, the need for human labor, according to the WEF study. Yet even as floor manufacturers, logistics planning, and truck drivers are turning towards technology, some of them don’t share the same opinion as the WEF.

Most of it has been geared towards automation, reducing the need for human interaction

Technology can Invigorate the Industry

While the WEF’s 2017 report had a lot of grim tidings, there are some who hold a more optimistic view of what’s in store for our future. Accenture’s Technology Vision 2017, for example, shows the potential positive effect that technology will have on the industry over the course of the year and beyond.

Positive effect that technology will have on the industry

“Accenture polled more than 5,400 business and information technology (IT) executives worldwide for its report and nearly nine in 10 respondents (86%) said that while “individual technologies” are rapidly advancing, it is the multiplier effect of these technologies that is creating innovation breakthroughs – and those “breakthroughs” will aid human workers more than anything else,” according to an article from Fleet Owner.

Biggest advances in technology are the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and big data analytics

Among the biggest advances in technology are the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, and big data analytics, all of which are designed with the goal of learning like people in order to better serve the wants and needs of people in the industry.

“The pace of technology change is breathtaking, bringing about the biggest advancements since the dawn of the information age,” says Paul Daugherty, the chief technology & innovation officer for Accenture. “As technology transforms the way we work and live, it raises important societal challenges and creates new opportunities. Ultimately, people are in control of creating the changes that will affect our lives, and we’re optimistic that responsive and responsible leaders will ensure the positive impact of new technologies.” he added.

Technology is Just a Tool: People Make it Work

That is ultimately the take away. Sure, technology is becoming more advanced and capable of handling much more complex tasks than ever before, but it’s the people that are the driving force behind it. For companies that are focusing on the people centric side of business, it’s working in their favor. New technology allows for people in the trucking industry to focus more on the relations side of the business, leaving the grunt analytics and metrics to the technology that can do it best.

It’s the people that are the driving force behind it

This means stronger relationships between business partners and a better, more efficient result overall. In short, technology is becoming more advanced, but there will always be the need for the human element to make it all work.

It’s the people who are and will continue to be the most vital part of the trucking industry.

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The Engine Behind the Machine: The Logistics of Construction Replacement Parts

Mergers and Acquisitions have been the name of the game over the last two years, or at least that’s what is reported in the news. So far often the less reported and at a far less volume, is the relinquishment of a business unit or business from an umbrella corporation. 

What happens when a business unit is relinquished and they have to find their own way through their logistics?

BlueGrace Logistics had the opportunity to work with a business that was cut off from an acquisition. This business found themselves in this quandary and scrambling to find a transportation management provider that could keep “business as usual” even though their business lost the buying power and support of a very large corporate entity.

Learn how BlueGrace helped this replacement parts provider keep the status quo as much as possible in that exact situation.

The Logistics Behind the Construction Equipment Replacement Parts

 

What About Other Construction and Parts Freight?

As a successful third-party logistics (3PL), BlueGrace handles the freight for all types of construction supply businesses. This freight can be heavy, oversized loads, such as cranes and dump trucks to replacement parts and pallets of construction materials. Our first step in any relationship is what sets us apart and brings the most value to your freight and logistics team. Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

This process gives your logistics team a brand new overview of your freight. From there, your team has access to the entire BlueGrace toolbox of solutions, including ERP integrations to our flagship quoting and product, BlueShip. All of these tools come with a team of logistics experts at your disposal and a constant goal to make your freight program more successful.

Would you like to talk with BlueGrace today? Feel free to call our Enterprise Group at 800.MY.SHIPPING or come see us at the CONEXPO in Las Vegas March 7-11 Booth #B9500.

 

 

 

 

 

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6th Annual Cats vs. Dogs Competition at BlueGrace Logistics

CONTEST UPDATE:

Friday, March 10 > More food has been delivered to both the Cats and the Dogs team piles. HELP US FEED THE ANIMALS.

About Cats Vs. Dogs

Each year, BlueGrace Logistics female (cats) and male (dogs) employees compete against each other to collect the most pet food in pounds. The food is then donated to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to care for the animals in the no-kill shelter. The food not only feeds the animals that call the shelter home, but is also used for their food assistance program “Animeals.” The “Animeals” program partners with “Meals on Wheels” of Tampa to deliver free pet food once a month to homebound and elderly residents on a fixed income in Hillsborough County. This year, BlueGrace Regional Offices will also participate in a “Cats vs Dogs” charitable drive. 

The 6th Annual Competition

Perhaps the biggest competition of the year, the rivalry grows stronger & the food collection gets bigger every year.

BlueGrace HQ collected over 52,000 lbs. of pet food in 2015

BlueGrace collected over 52,000 lbs. of pet food in 2015, enough to feed our furry friends at Humane Society Tampa Bay & assist in their “Animeals” Community program for an entire year!

“Team Cats” has been the reigning champions for 3 years in a row, leaving “Team Dogs” on a serious mission.

Will they be all bark and no bite this year? Stay tuned! meow, woof.

Get Your Game Faces on BlueGrace

Check out our coverage from 2015!

 

BlueGrace Regional Offices Get Involved

BlueGrace Chicago

We care about our communities around us. Each year we make an effort to collect donations for the Animal Rescue Foundation of Illinois. They are a  non-profit, no-kill humane society. Their  volunteers are dedicated to rescuing, fostering, and caring for homeless dogs and cats while finding them homes they can be loved in forever. We are conducting a food drive but we realize not everyone can drive to our office to help. This is the perfect place to contribute and we greatly appreciate it. If you find it in your heart, please spread the word for this beautiful cause. Check out our GoFundMe page here to help the BlueGrace Chicago Office.

BlueGrace Baltimore

This GoFundMe supports BlueGrace Baltimore in their effort to raise funds to purchase pet food and supplies for the Humane Society of Harford County. The Humane Society of Harford County does not receive funding from the Humane Society of the United States and relies heavily on charitable donations. In the past, BlueGrace Baltimore has been able to collect more than 10,000lbs of pet food for the Harford County Humane Society!

Your monetary donations will help our BlueGrace Baltimore office purchase larger quantities of supplies and pet food. Direct donations of pet food and supplies can be dropped off between 8am and 5pm at BlueGrace Logistics – Baltimore.

BlueGrace Boston

BG Boston is working with the MSPCA-Angell on raising money, food, toys, and basic pet supplies. The mission of the MSPCA-Angell is to protect animals, relieve their suffering, advance their health and welfare, prevent cruelty, and work for a just and compassionate society.

Monday, February 13th until the end of March, BG Boston will be holding a Food/Toy Drive for the many shelter animals in both the Boston and Methuen MSPCA Angell adoption centers who were left for dead, abandoned and finally rescued by the amazing team of MSPCA volunteers.

“They are the second oldest humane society in the U.S. Their mission is to protect animals, relieve their suffering, advance their health and welfare, prevent cruelty, and work for a just and compassionate society.” said Kristiana Lorgeree. 

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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BlueGrace Logistics Promotes Long-Time Employee to Senior Vice President

Jason Lockard Earns Senior Role Over Enterprise Division at BlueGrace Logistics

BlueGrace Logistics leadership announces the promotion of longtime employee, Jason Lockard, to Senior Vice President of Enterprise.

Lockard studied at the University of South Florida and got his start in the logistics industry as a dock worker at AAA Cooper Transportation.

Lockard got his start in the logistics industry as a dock worker at AAA Cooper Transportation.

“I am humbled to be part of such an amazing organization and the path BlueGrace has offered.  The opportunities here are endless if you are willing to put in the effort.  Our team feels more like a family than colleagues and I am grateful to them for what we developed in just a few years.  The future is bright,” said Lockard.

Jason joined BlueGrace Logistics in 2009 when the company was just getting its footing in this $750 billion US industry. He started in outside sales with the logistics company and started the Enterprise Sales channel in 2010 with just one team member.

Jason has helped transform the enterprise team into one of the largest and fastest growing areas of BlueGrace.

“During his tenure, Jason has helped transform the enterprise team into one of the largest and fastest growing areas of BlueGrace,” said Adam Blankenship, CCO & EVP of BlueGrace Logistics.

Since 2010, the Enterprise Sales channel has grown to over 50 team members across five locations in the United States.

“Jason’s promotion is meant to recognize the broadening scope and impact that his current role has seen over the past 12-18 months. He will continue to lead the entire Enterprise division and drive both strategy and tactics for all Enterprise throughout BlueGrace,” said Blankenship.

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

 

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The Rising Risk of Technology | Internet of Things

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released it’s 2017 risk report on the possible dangers of new technology. As the world begins the verge into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and new technology is emerging at an ever increasing rate, it’s important to consider the inherent risks associated with these new forms of technology.

It’s important to consider the inherent risks associated with these new forms of technology.

While it’s true that new tech, if not governed properly, can cause some considerable harm on a geopolitical scale, there are also some significant advancements that are both useful, as well as necessary for success in invaluable global functions, such as freight delivery and supply chain management. Given that humanity relies on the commercial and domestic goods that are being delivered through these supply chains, it’s important to understand what it is that the WEF fears could happen from the new technology.

Job Displacement

One of the 12 key emerging technologies on the WEF risk list, is the development of artificial intelligence and robotics. The key cause of concern is that as robots become more proficient in performing labor oriented tasks, the needs for human laborers will begin to drop. As economic stability hinges on the general populace being employed, the utilization of a robotic workforce could present some concern for the future. However, we must also look at the other side of the coin in this matter.

The needs for human laborers will begin to drop.

With the implementation of robotics in a manufacturing setting, there is a considerable reduction of risk to human life. This is especially true when it comes to more dangerous manufacturing processes. Not only are robotics able to increase production values at a safer rate than humans, there is also the need for maintenance and governance over these machines. In short, while the work force might be displaced from the production floor, it is possible for them to be retrained to employ a different skill set. Additionally, the increased profitability from efficiency boosts can create more possibilities for growth, expansion, and better pay for the adaptation to new skill sets for workers.

It is possible for them to be retrained to employ a different skill set.

“Technology not only addressed disruptive threats to business and improved service quality and productivity, it also improved workplace conditions,” said a DHL spokesman during an interview with The Loadstar.  “At the same time, our workforce has grown over the last five years, from 471,654 employees in 2011 to 497,745 in 2015,” he said. “Our chief executive stated in interviews last year that our workforce could grow to 600,000 by 2020 on the back of online retail driving further growth in parcel delivery,” he added.

Governing The Growth

By and large, one of the biggest concerns that WEF has with the rate of new technologies, is how they are to be governed. On one hand, overly strict regulations can stifle progress and therefore stifle the potential benefits gained from utilizing this new technology. On the other hand, if there is a lack of governance, new technology can fall into misuse, leading to a public discreditation of the technology and make potential investors nervous. WEF uses self-driving vehicles as an example, “autonomous vehicles will inevitably cause some accidents; whether this leads to calls for bans will depend on whether people trust the mechanisms that have been set up to govern their development.”

Autonomous vehicles will inevitably cause some accidents

So the question that remains unanswered is how exactly do you establish a set of rules for governance that is not too tightly controlled to inhibit innovation, yet flexible enough to keep pace with the creation and release of new tech?

Interconnected Technology

Perhaps one of the most important forms of technology for the supply chain comes in the form of the Internet of Things (IoT) and emerging logistics technology. This allows for increased data collection, deliverable in real time to every aspect of the supply chain and creating an overall efficiency boost. With the condition and location of all goods in transit being accessible to supply chain managers, the supply chain can flow more efficiently. The concern with this level of interconnectedness comes in the form of cyber security. The more data points you add to any process, the more chances there are for cyber intrusion.

The concern with this level of interconnectedness comes in the form of cyber security.

“There is money to be gained by performing attacks such as ransomware attacks denying access to data in the supply chain. In addition, you have to remember that supply chains typically involve a large number of stakeholders, making it very difficult to secure the entire chain – often a cyber attack only needs one weak link,” said Lars Jensen, the founder and chief executive of CyberKeel.

New technology also represents a lot of opportunity.

However, this again leads to the consideration of a need for more skill sets as cyber security gains momentum as a growing field of employment. While the WEF does bring up some valid concerns over emerging technology, they are representing one extreme end of the spectrum. New technology also represents a lot of opportunity not just for global supply chains, but the world in general.

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How Do Construction Suppliers Overcome Logistics Challenges?

The MABD and Your Construction Supply Company

Construction suppliers who provide hardware and tools are under tighter compliance regulations to get the right products to the right stores or distribution centers by a certain time, or they pay a fee. Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all deliveries after the Must Arrive By Date (MABD).

These regulations for Walmart were implemented back in early 2016, but other retailers such as Target and Home Depot have been charging these fees for some time.

Walmart suppliers now face paying a fee of 3% of the cost of goods of all non-compliant deliveries.

Your construction supply company succeeds or fails based on the constant delivery of your products. Even more so now with the MABD mandate. The timely and effective delivery of your products, is a major priority for you, your retailers and your market. How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

How do the logistics aspects of hardware and building materials differ from other industries?

The truth is they don’t, with the exception of specific project dates and deadlines that could be missed.

Manufacturers and suppliers that work with large retailers like Walmart, Target and Home Depot are more successful in getting their merchandise on the shelves with the proper lead time due to partnering with a third party logistics provider (3PL).

Out with the Old

Doing things the old way, is not always the best way. Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine it  becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors. BlueGrace Logistics has seen and learned how to explain and implement these changes. In the case study you will learn about a Hardware distributor that was drowning in manual processes and letting inefficiencies become the norm.  

Once employees get comfortable in their schedule and day to day routine, it becomes difficult to change those habits and behaviors.

How We Reduced Costs & Removed Manual Processes for Hardware Supplier

A large big box hardware supplier, based in the Midwest, was utilizing a single national carrier model. There was no GRI mitigation, or freight bill auditing. The manual task of booking shipments was taking up much of the customer support team’s day. The accounting team had no way to tell if the invoiced amount of the shipment was the same as the quoted amount of the shipment. The ways of the past were starting to catch up as volume increased and this supplier had to make a change.

This Hardware Supplier saved 13% of their yearly freight spend which added up to $260,000 annually.

Hardware Suppliers In The Construction Industry Case Study

What About Other Construction Freight?

As a successful third-party logistics (3PL), BlueGrace handles the freight for all types of construction supply businesses. This freight can be heavy, oversized loads, such as cranes and dump trucks to replacement parts and pallets of construction materials. Our first step in any relationship is what sets us apart and brings the most value to your freight and logistics team. Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

Your current freight data is analyzed and then processed with our proprietary engineering software.

This process gives your logistics team a brand new overview of your freight. From there, your team has access to the entire BlueGrace toolbox of solutions, including ERP integrations to our flagship quoting and product, BlueShip. All of these tools come with a team of logistics experts at your disposal and a constant goal to make your freight program more successful.

Would you like to talk with BlueGrace today? Feel free to call our Enterprise Group at 800.MY.SHIPPING or come see us at the CONEXPO in Las Vegas March 7-11 Booth #B9500.

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BlueGrace CEO Highlighted in THRIVE Campaign for Tampa EDC

Don’t Just Live, THRIVE.

The Tampa/Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation (EDC) recently unveiled its THRIVE campaign, and BlueGrace Logistics’ very own CEO and President, Bobby Harris was featured for his company’s contributions to the local economy.

BlueGrace Logistics has been in the headlines quite a bit over the last 18 months due to the amount of hiring, franchise buy-backs and acquisitions.

In 2016, BlueGrace hired 397 employees.

In 2016, BlueGrace hired 397 employees, helping lead the way in growing Tampa.

Along with a huge amount of growth internally, BlueGrace has also continued to expand nationally. Through a recent private equity investment, BlueGrace has been able to fuel their already rapidly growing business.

BlueGrace intends to use the funding to fuel the rapid growth of the business

BlueGrace intends to use the funding to fuel the rapid growth of the business, including hiring 500-700 new employees here in Tampa, accelerating its national expansion plans and pursuing strategic acquisitions.

Tampa > Where it All Began

“We are thrilled to be a part of this campaign and to be featured in the THRIVE video for the EDC. This community is greater because of the people at the Economic Development Corporation.” said Bobby Harris. CEO & President of BlueGrace Logistics.

BlueGrace Logistics is continuing to thrive, not only in the Tampa area, but across the US in expanding regional offices.

“We are really making headway in Chicago, Boston, Richmond and now out in Los Angeles. We are really excited about our future in all of these areas, but are beyond thankful to be headquartered here where it all began, Tampa!” said Harris.

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their freight spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and overall understanding of the complex $750 Billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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BlueGrace Enterprise Team Brings in Logistics and Freight Industry Veteran

BlueGrace Logistics is pleased to announce the recent hiring of 17-year logistics industry veteran, Randy Ofiara, as the new Vice President of Enterprise Sales.

Ofiara has been in the freight and logistics industry for over 17 years and has held leadership roles within XPO, YRC and ProTrans.

“Prior to BlueGrace, I had the opportunity to work for some great companies that helped me to be successful within this incredible industry, and I look forward to bringing that experience to the Enterprise Team at BlueGrace” said Ofiara.

His logistics career started out in Quincy, IL where he served as the Logistics Intern with Gardner Denver. He then moved into a transportation supervisory role with Gap, Inc. in the early 2000’s. With his position at Gap, Inc. Ofiara knew he had a solid footing in the logistics industry. From his time at the Gap, Inc. he moved to an account executive position within YRC and then into roles in Procurement Management with both XPO and ProTrans.

Each position he has held over the last 17 years, has paved the way for his new role within the BlueGrace Logistics Enterprise team.

BlueGrace Enterprise encompasses each one of our available services that help meet the transportation management needs of companies and manufacturers across multiple industries. Our Enterprise Logistics Professionals understand what it takes to consistently be competitive in the marketplace and Ofiara is the perfect addition.

Randy Ofiara, VP of Enterprise Sales at BlueGrace Logistics 

“We are thrilled to have Randy join our team here at BlueGrace. He is not only a culture fit, he will also be an incredible asset to our enterprise department as our company continues to grow,” said Jason Lockard, Vice President of Enterprise at BlueGrace Logistics.

Randy is one of 397 people BlueGrace Logistics hired in 2016.

“Bringing Randy on-board is a part of our overall plan to continue to grow our Enterprise Development roles,” said Lockard.

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their freight spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and overall understanding of the complex $750 Billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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The Future of Trucking Safety

 

 

With Trump getting to work on his first 100 days, the American Trucking Association is ready to start a campaign of their own in the hopes of getting some of the safety regulations set in place by the Obama administration, pulled back. While the ATA did secure a win last month in blocking a ruling to keep tired truckers off the road, they aren’t planning to stop there.

Arguably, these safety regulations are in place for a very good reason

Arguably, these safety regulations are in place for a very good reason, to keep both truckers and other drivers who share the road safe. But at what point do these safety regulations begin to impede on doing business? There is a lot of criticism on both sides of the issue, and so the battle rages on.

Resting Ruling

One of the biggest issues that the ATA is rallying against, is the Obama administration’s ruling on the resting period for truckers. The rule was proposed to keep fatigued and overtired drivers off the roads by instituting a mandatory resting period of 34 hours after completing a work week. A large point of contention to this ruling is that part of this ruling is that part of this break must consist of two periods from 1 am to 5 am.

The rule was proposed to keep fatigued and overtired drivers off the roads

“Sleep scientists say rest during the early morning hours is critical for people to feel refreshed. The suspension means truckers can head out on the road again during those hours if the 34-hour break has elapsed,” according to an article from The Associated Press.

While the rest might be important for the driver, that period of time in particular is crucial for delivery schedules as it has one of the lowest volumes of traffic for the entire day. Forcing driver’s to wait until after 5 am could cause a serious hit to productivity and timeliness as driver’s will be forced to contend with higher traffic volumes and rush hour commuters.

Providing a Helping Hand in Rule Making

At what point are federal regulations overstepping their boundaries when it comes to making regulations for the trucking industry? This question is being asked with an increasing regularity. While many on the safety side of things think there isn’t enough safety regulations, those on the business side of things are saying “enough is enough.” While size, weight, and resting period regulations do have a purpose, many in the trucking industry think that the industry itself should be included in the rulemaking process.

While many on the safety side of things think there isn’t enough safety regulations, those on the business side of things are saying “enough is enough.”

“We want to see the industry included in developing regulations,” Chris Spear, chief executive of the ATA, said in an interview. “We’d hope to see a lot more collaboration than we’ve seen in the past few years.”

There is a concern that the Obama administration in their push for new safety regulations, have essentially sidestepped the industry itself by imposing executive orders for new safety regulations. Not only did these rules impose a high cost to implement on the industry, but there came at a time when the industry was dealing with failing freight rates and weak demand.

These rules impose a high cost to implement on the industry

“Transportation companies want the Transportation Department to rethink rules that include work limits for truck drivers, safety-equipment requirements for trains and other regulations. And the rail and truck groups want to go farther by setting particular steps transportation agencies must go through as they write rules and operating guidelines,” according to an article from the Wall Street Journal.  “Industry needs to be involved in developing the process that makes the rules,” said Mr. Spear. “There should be a clear return in exchange for compliance.”

How successful will the ATA and the rest of the industry be in getting these limitations and regulations adjusted to something more favorable?

Only time will tell.

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BlueGrace Chicago Hosts Grand Reopening With the Mayor of Itasca

BlueGrace Chicago recently held a ribbon cutting for their new offices in the Village of Itasca. The town’s mayor, Jeff Pruyn, was on hand for a tour of the new facilities.

“The expansion of BlueGrace Logistics is the latest example of the business-friendly environment in Itasca,” says Pruyn. “The combination of location, convenient access, and competitive tax rates, makes Itasca an attractive place for companies like BlueGrace Logistics to locate and grow.”

BlueGrace Chicago has outgrown its original office space and has recently expanded into a new space.

BlueGrace Chicago now occupies 11,500 square feet and has over 60 local employees with plans for more growth in the future.

Itasca Mayor Jeff Pruyn gets a tour of the new BlueGrace Chicago office space 

“All of our regional offices have been under construction due to the incredible amount of growth over the last 18 months.” said Randy Collack, Chief Strategy Officer at BlueGrace Logistics.

Along with the growth, office construction, and expansions across all regional offices, BlueGrace Logistics continues to provide a fun and competitive work environment for all employees. So much so, that BlueGrace Boston was recently awarded Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in both the Greater Boston area and in the nation.

The Best & Brightest competition identifies and honors companies that deliver exceptional human resource practices and an impressive commitment to their employees.

“We are thrilled to see all of the success and growth with each of our offices.” said Collack.

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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Leadership at BlueGrace Logistics Take on New Roles as Company Grows

BlueGrace Logistics Announces the Title Transformations of Two Longtime Executives

“As part of our ongoing and explosive growth, I want to increase role clarity throughout the organization, so appointing both Adam Blankenship and Randy Collack to their new titles is a progressive and exciting move for us,” said Bobby Harris, President & CEO of BlueGrace Logistics.

Randy Collack, newly named the Chief Strategy Officer, oversees several departments of BlueGrace Logistics and has been with the company since 2009. Throughout his tenure, he has been responsible for the growth of the sales and operations departments.

Randy brings vast industry experience as the former President of PDT Trucking and has held senior positions with Express One and Preferred Shipping.

He studied at Purdue University and also earned his lean Six Sigma Black Belt certificate. Mr. Collack is an avid poker player who competed in his first World Series of Poker in 2016.

Randy Collack – Chief Strategy Officer 

“I am thrilled with this change to CSO and believe it better fits the needs of this growing company. I have always been proud to serve the organization in any capacity,” said Randy Collack, Chief Strategy Officer at BlueGrace Logistics.

Randy’s roles within the company have been broad and deep but this change of title will provide clarity for the organization as it moves forward.

Collack will continue to be involved with the Transportation Team, A-Team and Customer Service.

“The best way for BlueGrace to grow effectively and quickly is to make sure we all work together as a team. With these organizational title changes, we will be able to structure those teams for future success,” said Harris.

Adam Blankenship – Chief Commercial Officer

Adam Blankenship, who joined the BlueGrace leadership team in 2012, will add the responsibilities of Chief Commercial Officer to his current role of Executive Vice President.

Within the new role of CCO, Adam will have strategic oversight of the entire sales organization in addition to Marketing, Carrier Relations and Procurement.

Prior to joining BlueGrace, Blankenship held senior executive roles at YRC and Central Transport and has garnered nearly 20 years of transportation industry experience.  He is a graduate of the University of Missouri where he received both a B.S. in Finance and Masters of Business Administration.

Mr. Blankenship is an avid sports fan and obstacle course racing enthusiast. He also enjoys travel and spending time with his wife and four kids.

“BlueGrace is continuing to define roles and structure the organization in a way that provides a clear vision for the future, and set us on the path for continued success.” Continued Blankenship. “I look forward to the opportunities and challenges in my role as the Chief Commercial Officer.”

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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Carrier Spotlight: UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc.

 

BlueGrace logistics is partnering with UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc. (UPSCIA) to provide quality protection for carrier’s goods in transit. Our specialized logistics knowledge, proven industry experience and enhanced supply chain visibility allows UPSCIA to offer insurance services you may not find with typical risk mitigation providers.

Why UPS Capital Insurance Agency, Inc.?

A lost, damaged or delayed delivery can result in revenue loss and a ruined reputation. That’s why UPSCIA offers a variety of options that deliver affordable cover­age to protect BlueGrace customers against loss or damage to freight shipments. This wide range of insurance products helps avoid delays and protects your bottom line in the unlikely event of a disruption.

Features of the protection program:

  • Covered losses are valued at replacement cost at destination, as determined if applicable by commercial invoice plus freight
  • Declare values easily through BlueShip®
  • Covers multi-carriers

Benefits of the protection program include:

  • Simple claims process delivers efficient resolution and settlement
  • Ease of use – insure freight shipments seamlessly through BlueShip
  • Coverage flexibility – coverage applies to any freight carrier you choose through BlueShip®
  • Fast claims resolution

 

Protecting your freight shipment:

Customers can select UPSCIA protection directly through BlueShip®. The freight management system will automatically calculate the total insurance charges for the transaction entered as determined by the commodity being shipped, mode of transportation and final destination.

Pricing:

UPSCIA protection is based on a commoditized pricing structure. The cost of protection will be calculated by the freight management system and presented for final review and acceptance before completing your transaction.

Limits of protection:

Customers can select coverage for goods up to $100,000 in value, per shipment. Shipments exceeding $100,000 will need to obtain additional approval from UPSCIA. (Maximum Insurable Value: $1,000,000 per shipment) 

Additional services offered by UPS Capital, a UPSCIA affiliate company

UPS Capital, an affiliate of UPSCIA, offers a wide range of products and services designed to meet all of your supply chain needs. Customers searching for additional supply chain solutions can visit our website at www.upscapital.com and discover a wide range of products and services designed to improve cash flow, reduce trade credit risk, and securely accept payments.

 

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Stepping Up from 2016: Optimism for the New Year

 

With January already well under way, getting closer to inauguration day when President Trump takes his first official steps into office, it’s time to take a look at where the trucking industry has taken it’s own steps to start off the year. While there’s still a lot of ground to cover over the course of 2017, here’s what we know so far.

Driver Shortage is a Major Concern

One of the biggest problems of 2016 still remains among the top concerns going into 2017. With the median age of truck drivers approaching retirement age, many companies are struggling to find drivers to keep their fleets moving. Some trucking companies are upping the ante by increasing incentives, wages, and anything else they can use to entice drivers to take up the keys.

Some trucking companies are upping the ante by increasing incentives, wages, and anything else they can use to entice drivers to take up the keys.

According to a survey conducted by the Commercial Carrier Journal, driver availability is ranked as the top concern for nearly half, 44.8 of the respondents. The next highest concern is freight pricing, coming in at 32.9 percent.

Driver retention is a close second in terms of concern

While driver shortage wasn’t quite at the forefront of concern in 2016, according to the American Transportation Research Institutes top ten index, it did rank in at 16% of total industry concern, with a total index rating of 36.5. Driver retention is a close second in terms of concern, with an ATRI index rating of 30.5.  With less concern over other matters, the driver shortage is becoming a more prominent issue for the trucking industry.

Less Concern About Politics

While the election of Donald Trump to become the next President of the United States has caused quite a stir for most people (one way or another) there is considerably less concern when it comes to the trucking industry. Among the top concerns during 2016 was the enforcement of the ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandates to more accurately track Hours of Service for drivers. Also thrown into the mix were a number of new regulations including the EPA phase two of greenhouse gas emissions. Now, however, the political climate has dropped to only 2.6 percent of the respondents on the CCJ survey. So what made the change?

Trump has announced that there will be a considerable overhauling of the country’s infrastructure

For starters, Trump has announced that there will be a considerable overhauling of the country’s infrastructure, making the roads more agreeable for trucks and drivers, which would ideally reduce the concerns for traffic, safety, and other snarls that occur within the transportation industry. However, as with anything else, these changes will come with a price. Trump isn’t willing to add to the deficit to pay for the road improvements. Instead, the trucking industry will have to foot the bill, likely in the form of tolls and higher fuel taxes.

The trucking industry will have to foot the bill, likely in the form of tolls and higher fuel taxes

In addition to the infrastructure overhaul, the trucking industry might see some of the Obama administration’s regulations reversed, giving the industry a little much needed breathing room.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

While it’s still a bit early to have any definitive proof, many in the trucking industry are feeling optimistic about 2017, with anything being a welcome change to the slog that was the previous year. As it stands, driver sentiment is slowly beginning to creep up according to the CCJ survey.

“The Carrier Sentiment Index for November was 5.71, a slight increase from the October survey (5.61). The index assesses the month on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the carrier’s worst month and 10 being the best. Responses from both groups were nearly identical: 5.70 for respondents from fleets with up to 100 power units compared to 5.72 for respondents from fleets with more than 100 power units.”

Combined with better roads and newer logistics tech hitting the commercial marketplace, the trucking industry could have a very promising year ahead of them. However, only time will tell at this point.

 

 

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BlueGrace to Sponsor SMC3 Jump Start Conference | Jan. 23-25

BlueGrace Logistics is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for the 2017 Jump Start Conference.

Logistics and supply chain education take center stage each January at Jump Start, a three-day event that attracts a broad spectrum of middle-to-senior-level decision makers responsible for the seamless movement of domestic and foreign freight. One of transportation’s most anticipated educational and networking forums, Jump Start features targeted sessions, renowned thought leaders, substantive seminars and networking opportunities.

One of transportation’s most anticipated educational and networking forums | Jump Start

“Jump Start is a great time for us to connect and strengthen relationships with our carriers,” said Andrew Rivers,  Senior Manager, Carrier Relations at BlueGrace Logistics. 

Ignite Speed Meetings with BlueGrace Logistics

Ignite consists of a series of “speed meetings” between a conference attendee and the contribution organization of their choice. Meetings are 7 minutes long, with a 2 minute break between appointments.

Speed meeting requests are matched electronically and schedules will be generated based on preferences and availability

Meeting requests are matched electronically and schedules will be generated based on preferences and availability. Attendees will be asked to fill out a short registration form and select their top five to ten contributors… it’s that simple.

“Carriers and other attendees will need to schedule their ‘speed meeting’ ahead of time to meet with us and we really hope to fill up a nice schedule for this event,” said Rivers.

Jump Start 2017 will feature a wide array of speakers and presenters

Keynote Speaker | Dayton Moore Sr. VP, Operations & General Manager, Kansas City Royals

Dayton Moore has served as the general manager of the Kansas City Royals since 2006. In 2014, the Royals stormed to 89 victories and qualified for the postseason for the first time in 29 years. The team won its second World Series title in 2015. Moore received MLB Executive of the Year honors in 2015 and is in the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame.

See BlueGrace at Jump Start 2017

It is a great time to talk with BlueGrace and other leaders in the logistics and technology industry. For more information please visit the SMC3 website.
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Omnichannel Shopping Gives Brick and Mortar Stores an Edge

Are we looking at the end of the tried and true brick and mortar style store? With online shopping growing at an exponential rate, this question has a lot of store owners feeling the heat from the growth of e-commerce.  Over the course of 2015, e-commerce sites saw an incredible growth rate of 23 percent. Of course, Amazon is the reigning champ when it comes to online sales, making up 26 percent of all online transactions.

E-commerce sites saw an incredible growth rate of 23 percent

While it might seem like a predictable future, it’s not a good bet to count out the traditional store front just yet. According to the Harvard Business Review, it might have something to do with Omnichannel marketing. A study conducted by HBR, found that only 7 percent of shoppers did business solely online. 20 percent only went to the actual store, which leaves the remaining 73 percent somewhere in between. These are the omnichannel shoppers.

The Store with More (Logistics)

Omnichannel shopping has been giving brick and mortar stores a considerable edge when it comes to their completely digital counterparts. So much so that even e-commerce giant Amazon, is in the process of building their own stores to provide their customers with a more comprehensive shopping solution. The idea behind it is simple. Offer more technologically based solutions to fit your customers needs, making it easier for them to shop, compare prices, and get what they need, when and how they need it.

E-commerce giant Amazon, is in the process of building their own stores

While providing the digital platforms for customers is fairly straightforward, building the logistical groundwork to support it might not be so easy. Fortunately, this also means a lot of opportunity for 3PLs and freight forwarders, so long as they know what they’re looking for. 

Last Mile Deliveries are Taking Off

Last mile deliveries have been a hot topic for quite some time, especially as Amazon continues to push the envelope with their near instantaneous, same-day deliveries. While that certainly sets the bar fairly high for companies who are looking to delve into the omnichannel marketplace, it does mean that there is a good deal of infrastructure in place to compensate.

Last mile deliveries have been a hot topic for quite some time

3PLs and a number of other forwarders, such as DHL, are looking into drone technology to expedite the last mile delivery process. There’s also the idea of tapping into already existing systems such as Uber for package deliveries that can help give potential omnichannel stores a leg up as they begin to build up their market.

Omnichannel stores will have a significant advantage over stores who don’t embrace the technology

All in all, omnichannel stores will have a significant advantage over stores who don’t embrace the technology, a must in this challenging market place that is currently undergoing its own renaissance period of growth. However, in order for these stores to be successful, they’ll have to get their logistics in check, or risk losing their client base.

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BlueGrace Logistics Regional Office Awarded Best & Brightest

BG Boston Earns National & Greater Boston Area Award

A BlueGrace Logistics regional office, BlueGrace Boston, was recently awarded one of the Best and Brightest Companies to Work For, both in the Greater Boston Area and in the nation.

The Best and Brightest Companies to Work For® is a program of the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) that provides the business community with the opportunity to showcase their best practices and demonstrate why they are an ideal employer and workplace. This national program celebrates those companies that are making better business, creating richer lives and building a stronger community as a whole.

This national program celebrates those companies that are making better business, creating richer lives and building a stronger community as a whole.

“While we want to be number one in the 3PL industry, we know that won’t happen without our people. We focus on hiring the right people and then continuing to support them by providing them with a culture they all can thrive in,” said Adam Blankenship, Executive Vice President of Operations at BlueGrace Logistics.

The Best & Brightest competition identifies and honors companies that deliver exceptional human resource practices and an impressive commitment to their employees.

“BlueGrace has strived to create a culture that is truly unlike any other company I have ever worked for. Our Free Beer Friday’s, Free Waffle Wednesday’s and Teammate of the Week programs have fostered a dynamic and social work environment that I am but ecstatic and proud to be a part of. I encourage any motivated and driven graduate to consider applying to BlueGrace and joining our growing Boston family,” said Gabrielle Moody, Recruiter at BlueGrace Boston. 

According to the Best & Brightest website, Organizations are assessed based on categories such as communication, work-life balance, employee education, diversity, recognition, retention and much more.

“We retain 84% of all new hires at BlueGrace Logistics and that is huge, considering the amount of growth we have experienced in just the last 18 months,” said Mercedes Essmann, Director of Corporate Recruiting at BlueGrace Logistics.

Over the past year and a half, BlueGrace has created nearly 300 new jobs, more than doubling their job creation goal announced in 2015. The Governor of Florida, Rick Scott recently announced that the company headquarters in Tampa Bay, will continue expanding, with plans to create 300 additional jobs over the next few years.

 “What makes me love working at BlueGrace Boston is that I wake up every morning knowing I am going to a place where I will laugh with me friends all day. The people, the competition, and the culture are what making Working at BlueGrace Boston fun… and the beer. Did I mention the beer?” said   Allison McCarthy, Account Executive at BlueGrace Boston. 

This is one of many awards that BlueGrace Logistics has had the honor of winning over the years.

See below for a list of past awards won by BlueGrace.

2016

  • Happiest Company Award, TINYpulse, 2016

2015

  • Best Places to Work, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2015, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2015
  • Top Minority-Owned Business, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2015
  • Happiest Company Award (Transportation and Logistics), TINYpulse, 2015
  • Employee Recognition Award (Transportation and Logistics), TINYpulse, 2015

2014

  • Entrepreneur of The Year – Florida, Ernst & Young (E&Y), 2014
  • Fast 50, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2014
  • USF FAST 56 Companies, University of South Florida, 2014
  • Top Minority-Owned Business, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2014
  • Best Places to Work, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2014

2013

  • Best Places to Work, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2013
  • 40 Under 40- Bobby Harris, President & CEO, Gulf Coast Business Review, 2013
  • USF FAST 56 Companies, University of South Florida, 2013

2012

  • Hire Power Award, Inc. Magazine, 2012
  • Best Places to Work, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2012
  • America’s 5000 Fastest Growing Privately Owned Companies, Inc. 5000, 2012
  • Fast 50, Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2012
  • Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist (Emerging category), Ernst & Young, 2012
  • Sales & Marketing Executive of the Year- Eric Chambers, Transportation Marketing & Sales Association, 2012

2011

  • Best Places to Work Finalist (Bigger Category), Tampa Bay Business Journal, 2011

About BlueGrace Logistics:

Founded in 2009, BlueGrace Logistics is one of the fastest growing leaders of transportation management services in North America. As a full service third party logistics provider (3PL), BlueGrace helps businesses manage their less-than-truckload and truckload spend through industry leading technology, high level freight carrier relationships and superior insight of the complex $750 billion U.S. freight industry. BlueGrace is headquartered in Riverview, Florida with over 60 corporate and franchise locations across the U.S. For more information, visit www.mybluegrace.com.

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Laying the First Bricks: Amazon is Getting Physical but Wal-Mart Fights Back

 

There aren’t a whole lot of companies that can match up to the innovative prowess of the e-Commerce giant, Amazon. It seems as though every couple of months we’re catching some snippet that Amazon is trying out a new trick for the convenience of its loyal customers and, true to it’s nature, Amazon is about to pull their next trick out of the bag. An actual grocery store.

Amazon Go

Unlike AmazonFresh, the online grocery shopping option that promises quick deliveries of produce and other perishables, Amazon Go will be an actual brick and mortar store, one of the few ventures Amazon hasn’t really gotten into yet. So why the sudden change? For starters, how about throwing the competition a curve ball?

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focuses on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods.

Some of Amazon’s biggest competitors are Wal-Mart and Target, who focus on a combined service of both groceries as well as higher ticket items such as apparel and home goods. While the groceries and produce account for a relatively small amount of the sales, it does bring in business which helps these chains hit their real goal of selling more expensive items.

Working out of a brick and mortar store will have its advantages.

Logistically speaking, trying to deliver produce and temperature sensitive goods in an appropriate time frame isn’t out of the scope of Amazon’s fairly comprehensive delivery machine, but it’s not necessarily practical either. This is why the grocery delivery service is only offered in select locations and still isn’t quite as popular as the tried and true alternative, as many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

Many customers still prefer to do their grocery shopping in stores, being able to touch, smell, and generally select their produce before purchase.

According to an article from the Wall Street Journal, Amazon is experimenting with a few different styles of store, a convenience style or quick pick up store, as well as a drive through style, which lets customers skip having to walk into the store to begin with. The key is this, if Amazon has a physical location to work out of, they can capture more of the grocery market shares. As it stands, online grocery shopping is only a small portion of the business, about one percent currently, but is expected to continue to grow.

Wal-Mart Fights Back

If Amazon is going physical then Wal-Mart is retorting with the digital, according to an article from The Motley Fool. Many of the Wal-Mart supercenters are getting a technological upgrade in the attempt to keep Amazon in check in two ways. First is the curbside order pickup. Rather than having to walk into the store, select your items, then wade your way through the checkout line, you can simply place your order online and have it brought out to the car, allowing customers to skip the check out.

Additionally is the Gas and Go Style of Shopping, Similar to a Convenience Store.

Additionally is the Gas and Go style of shopping. This involves a secondary shop, similar to a convenience store, that has some last minute grocery items, coffee, snacks, and other concessions, as well as being a full service Gas Station. The twist is that, customers can place an online order, which is fulfilled by a nearby Supercenter, and arrive at a set time to have their groceries delivered while they gas up their vehicle. This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

This level of convenience, combined with the grocery infrastructure that Wal-Mart already has in place might be enough to keep Amazon Go at bay.

The Master of Logistics

It’s fairly safe to say that this point that Amazon’s actions are rarely without some sort of ulterior motive. Think back to the Amazon cloud services, which was originally designed to be an in-house service and was then converted into a highly successful business model.

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors?

If Amazon can get down the necessary logistics infrastructure to handle groceries and perishable produce, who’s to say they can’t then turn that service towards their competitors? While it’s unlikely that many grocery stores are eager to hand over any form of control over to Amazon, it might be something we hear about in the future, especially given how skilled Amazon is at offering a high caliber service at a lower rate than the competition. Again, this is a bit too far off to tell presently, but it will be something to keep an eye on, especially as Amazon Go stores start to open around the country.

 

 

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2016 BlueGrace National Conference | Recap

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

Cameron Herold

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

Afterburner, Inc.

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

Dave Ross

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!

2016 BlueGrace Sales Conference Sponsors



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