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Volume Quotes: Improving processes and turn around times

2013 is a much anticipated year of tremendous process improvements which include getting our customers the information they need faster, more efficiently and with more accuracy. With that said, our customers can now take advantage of our new volume quoting process. You no longer have to wait for a volume quote when booking your shipments. Our new processes allows anyone to get a volume quote with the same speed as an LTL Quote! No more waiting 30-45 minutes, hoping that your customers expectations have ceased on your behalf to deliver. Our new process increases our response time and we are proud to say we can over-deliver volume quoting shipping needs with the same expectations of a standard LTL shipment! Click here for details on differentiating standard LTL shipping with Volume Shipping. 

Time is of the essence and we get that better than anyone else in the business. With our new volume quoting density calculator, combined with the power of the TMS Rate Shop we can provide you with pricing in less than 2 minutes!  The new calculator takes in consideration one very important factor: CUBIC CAPACITY

We’re providing our customers with a quick estimate, reducing turnaround time significantly and giving them more options with more carriers. They will be able to acquire more customers with this new process because the time for them to shop will be reduced significantly and will see that less people will need to be involved with overall operations. Everyone understands that price is a determining factor in sales processes across all industries, but we give our customers an opportunity to sell on value.

To take advantage of our new process there are several things you can do. For more information or to get a quote over the phone call 800.MY.SHIPPING, or send an email to contactus@mybluegrace.com. You can also ask to request a BlueShip TMS account . When calling to get a quote make sure you have the weight, dimensions and piece count of your shipment(s) available in addition to your pickup and delivery destinations.

Are you subscribed to the BlueGrace Logistics email list? Visit our website and subscribe today for exclusive offers and incentives from your favorite transportation logistics provider!

The Silver-Lining of Superstorm Sandy

With initial estimates of economic losses due to Sandy reaching into the $30-$50 billion range, it’s strange to think that there could actually be a silver-lining to such a detrimental cloud. And in fact, the trucking industry alone suffered around a whopping $140 million per day loss. This number is based on 20% of the industry not moving freight because of Sandy’s aftermath. However, with these dismal numbers at the forefront of everyone’s mind, it’s wise to note that some trucking companies do actually benefit from natural disasters.

The clean-up and rebuilding phase following the super storm is what gives the transportation industry its light at the end of the tunnel. Fleets are expected to see an increase in activity in the coming months with demand on the rise. Construction companies and the flatbed carriers that haul their materials will experience quite the surge.

Flatbed carriers aren’t the only ones to have a boost in freight, however. Dry van carriers will also see a boom in business with retailers needing to replenish depleted goods on store shelves. Though many will experience a loss initially, the storm’s resulting damage will create new demand later. The immediate need for restocking, for example, is one that only the time-sensitive characteristic of trucking can provide. Not only is it excess work because everything is rushed, it’s also out of normal route, and people are willing to pay more. All of this in turn, leads to a faster recovery for the industry. FTR (Freight Transportation Research Association) Senior Consultant Noel Perry predicts that the losses caused by the storm, will ultimately be recovered due to resupply and rebuilding truck freight needs. Perry predicts the storm will generate $15 billion in additional revenue for trucking over the next three or four quarters.

Sandy’s disruption to replenishing food, gas and other goods serves as a glaring reminder that freight transportation is the backbone that supports our everyday life.  Whether a storm for you causes a loss or a sudden boom in business, you still need to have a plan for whatever comes next. Though you cannot predict, you can prepare. Check out the checklist we developed to help prepare your supply chain for natural disasters!

Have your own tips or precautions that you take in preparation for the unpredictable? Fill us in here so we can all benefit!

For more information on BlueGrace Logistics visit www.mybluegrace.com, or to request a quote, fill out the form below. [gravityform id=”1″ name=”Request an LTL Freight Quote”]

BlueGrace Logistics Sponsors Carlos Condit in UFC Welterweight Championship TOMORROW NIGHT!

BlueGrace Logistics is proud to announce that we will continue the sponsorship of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Interim Titleholder Carlos Condit continues as the fighter competes in the year’s most anticipated UFC Welterweight Championship matchup against George St. Pierre. The live event will take place tomorrow, November 17, 2012 at The Bell Centre in Montreal and will be broadcast on UFC 154!  BlueGrace Logistics has been heavily involved with the sponsorship of MMA fighters, cross-branding the sport with the services of a transportation logistics provider.

“We are proud to sponsor Carlos Condit because he is a driving force representing good sportsmanship and work ethic,” says BlueGrace President and CEO Bobby Harris. “As we grow and continue to add new stakeholders to the organization, it’s important for us to have a role model who works hard, plays hard and can share a story of success. Condit does that for BlueGrace.”

We hope you’ll join us in cheering on Carlos Condit! Join the conversation on Twitter by following @carloscondit and mentioning @mybluegrace!

If you want more information on this fight or on BlueGrace, please call 1.800.MY.SHIPPING!

 

Why does it cost so much to ship my freight? A Word with BlueGrace’s SVP, Adam Blankenship.

If you have ever shipped anything, you probably have considered the question of “how do they come up with these prices”. Whether you are at the post office shipping a box full of presents to the grandkids at the holidays or on the shipping dock of your company watching a tractor trailer truck drive away with your freight, the shipping process is both confusing and complicated. Adding to the problem is the rising cost of shipping. While estimates vary, transportation costs as a percentage of sales range from as 5% – 15% depending on the industry and as much as 30 – 50% of the overall cost of the goods. With numbers like these, it clearly becomes important to make sense of the complexity and put a strategy in place to maximize the value you get for your transportation dollars.

Industry experience and shipping expertise are vital in managing costs across the many variables that drive transportation and supply chain costs. Shipping costs and prices are driven by factors such as raising cost of labor, insurance, facilities upkeep, volatile fuel markets, regional geographic differences, customer size, competitor rates, availability of multiple transport modes, freight breakability, time of the day, seasonality, sense of urgency and perceptions of customer’s willingness to pay or need. With so many cost and pricing factors, it is no wonder people get confused. Fortunately, businesses are not alone in their quest to make sense of the shipping process. Today, numerous third party logistics providers (3PLs like BlueGrace Logistics) exist to help companies and in some cases individuals simplify the shipping experience, save money and improve the performance of their supply chain or transportation and shipping functions.

3PLs have established themselves as market leaders in transportation and logistics. Both small businesses with only a few shipments per month and major corporations benefit from working with companies like BlueGrace. Experience in the transportation industry along with access to carrier partnerships and best in class technology provides a tremendous advantage to shippers. Senior Vice-President at BlueGrace, Adam Blankenship, recently was quoted saying, “with transportation costs accounting for such as large percentage of the overall cost of the goods, companies must effectively manage their supply chains. Failure to do so will put them at a significant competitive disadvantage in their markets.” Blankenship went on to say that “at BlueGrace, we understand what drives cost to carriers and we help our customers with optimizing their shipping patterns, freight shipping configurations, and carrier selections.”

Shipping prices are in large part impacted by two major areas. First are the direct costs that transportation companies experience when handling freight. The costs of labor, insurance, vehicle maintenance are largely costs that shippers have little direct control over. Wild swings in fuel prices and soaring insurance costs have drastically impacted the cost of shipping in recent years. However, costs related to freight theft, damage, and cube utilization do offer areas where smart shippers can save money. For example, packaging high value freight in very plain boxes which do not draw attention to the contents inside does have an impact on freight theft. Shipping freight on well packaged skids that allow transportation companies to fully utilize the cube of their trucks will make a company’s freight less costly and more desirable. Good 3pls like BlueGrace can help educate shippers on how to make their freight as desirable (least costly to handle) as possible to carriers and thereby secure the best possible pricing.

The other area impacting shipping cost has little to do with cost and more to do with a company’s willingness or need to pay. In many cases, transportation companies set rates based on seasonality, the amount of freight moving in a given lane, how soon the customer needs the freight, what the competition is doing and in many cases simply how much they believe they can charge. This is where the value of a top-notch 3pl really shows up. Companies such as, BlueGrace Logistics, have solid, long-term relationships with virtually all major transportation companies in the United States. Further they have the technology to analyze a company’s shipping data and build an optimal plan for shipping using a variety of carriers across numerous markets. In some cases, this may even mean utilizing more than a single mode of transportation (i.e. LTL, TL, Rail, Ocean, etc). Not to mention that the increased leverage and buying power of experienced 3pls helps customers to control shipping costs over time.
Blankenship states that “the true value of BlueGrace or any great 3pl is not only to save you money, but to also save you time and improve the performance of your supply chain in the process.”

Many of the costs that drive transportation and shipping costs ever higher will likely be present for the foreseeable future. That coupled with the old industry adage of “if you bought it, a truck brought it” means that this topic will be on the minds of shippers for a long time. So while you probably cannot avoid shipping costs, there are many good 3pls out there including BlueGrace Logistics to help you take the complexity of those shipping costs and save you money in the process.

Give BlueGrace a call at 800.MY.SHIPPING or send an email to contactus@mybluegrace.com to speak with one of our logistics experts today!

BlueGrace’s 2012 DreamForce Re-cap!

DreamForce, SalesForce’s annual convention, proved to be one of the year’s most exciting conferences reaching business professionals nationwide. From keynote speakers like Colin Powell and Richard Branson to some of the most talented technology and marketing experts, the week was packed with lots to learn. In addition, the SalesForce enterprise was sure to keep its attendee’s entertained throughout the week with social events and even a concert performance by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. From branding to overall presentation, the crowd was pumped and completely engulfed in everything SalesForce had to offer. The main events were held at the Moscone center, right in downtown San Francisco and some of the surrounding hotels. There were DJs in the main entryways and anyone who attended couldn’t help but feel the energy around them. Among the 90K registrants of the event, BlueGrace Logistics was one of the few representing the transportation logistics industry. There were a handful of carriers, logistics and transportation technology companies who came for the week long extravaganza, all looking for ways to improve their customer experience. Together, we teamed up with something in common… our love for the transportation industry. With the main focus surrounding advances in technology, it was easy for BlueGrace to understand the new trends in adopting current platforms especially since we just launched the newest version of our Tranportation Management System, BlueShip 2.0. As a social company, the BlueGrace representatives spent a lot of time Tweeting about the sessions they attended, including the #DF12 created for DreamForce… which was interesting because it brought some opportunities for BlueGrace to meet some interesting people. In fact, one of our tweets caught the eye of TechTarget journalist who interviewed us and published this article on social media, the adoption of SalesForce’s Marketing Cloud and some of what BlueGrace Logistics had to say. Needless to say, #DF12 was a great event and we took away a lot of valuable information we can begin to apply to our daily operation to make BlueGrace Logistics the best 3PLs in America!

It’s not about franchising…It’s about finding the RIGHT franchise.

As most of you now know, BlueGrace Franchise is on the rise! We are consistently adding new locations on the map and the excitement level is high, but it’s not easy and understandably so. Deciding to open a franchise is not a straightforward decision. Here are some tips to follow when considering opening a franchise:

1. Research the industry you are planning on investing in.

This is one of the most critical steps in the decision making process. It’s not easy to just say “I know… I’ll open a McDonalds or Starbucks today…”, because you might find that it just wouldn’t work for you or your personality type. There are thousands of opportunities out there and it’s important to be open to the limitless opportunities.

2. Cost.

Most franchises require a start-up fee, some working capital, etc. For example, BlueGrace Franchise has a $47,500 start up fee which is on the low end compared to most franchise opportunities. But in addition, there needs to be working capital to make sure you can operate and be successful. Take some time to evaluate your personal finances before consulting with a franchise opportunity you are interested in.

3. Evaluate your priorities.

Make sure you’re ready for this!  A decision may require you to consult with a family member, business partner or close friend. It’s important to understand that in order to enjoy the freedoms of a business owner, you need to start somewhere. When you first get started, you’ll need to dedicate time to get things rolling, but the work will pay off.

4. Assess your resources.

Most people don’t need to completely start from scratch. You may have talent, contacts, resources and equipment ready for you to use. You know how they say “hiring from within is less expensive than getting someone new”, well that’s true in more ways than one. Use your resources to help you get started!

5. Make sure the franchise of your choice is reputable and has a team that is there to support you.

Just because a company has a disclosure document (or FDD), doesn’t mean they’re reputable. Again, BlueGrace Franchise as the example here,  has in-house counsel (click to meet Robert Beckmann) with franchise development and support teams to answer any and all of your questions. Make sure you visit the corporate location/office, meet and develop relationships with the people involved with handling your investment.

Hope you found these tips helpful. In lieu of finding a new investment opportunity, you should consider BlueGrace Logistics. They’ll bring you down for Discovery Day and introduce you to the team so you can learn more about the company.

For more information on BlueGrace Franchise, email to our franchise development team or call 800.MY.SHIPPING and ask for the Franchise Development Team!

Manufacturing: Coming Back to America

One of the best trends I have seen in the U.S. logistics industry is the bounce back of U.S. manufacturing, albeit slow recovery. During the economic recession, the U.S. relied on outsourcing jobs and manufacturing to countries such as China and India. Although doing this helps U.S. businesses reduce their bottom line costs in the short term, does it actually hurt our country?

Manufacturing jobs in the U.S. on the rise.
Small and large businesses are beginning to bring jobs and manufacturing back home to the U.S. http://bit.ly/KQohUJ

Today, small and large businesses are slowly beginning to bring these jobs back home. U.S. manufacturers are taking it upon themselves to include that all important “Made in the U.S.A.” stamp back on their goods, but there have been questions posed about their supply chain. These companies bring in large loads of raw materials and then break them down into smaller quantities. Large loads are brought in via rail or full truckload and then when produced into smaller quantities they are shipped via less than truckload (LTL). As you can imagine, transportation spend is a large part of a manufacturer’s budget… and that’s why 3PLs are here to help! A reliable 3PL allows manufacturers to leverage their freight shipping and reduce their overall spend on transportation. Companies, such as BlueGrace® Logistics, also make sure they are shipping under their correct freight class to avoid possibilities of re-class and unexpected charges.

As for me, I hope to see and ship a lot of new products in the 4th quarter for the holidays… and it means more when they are “Made in the U.S.A” What are your thoughts on the direction of goods manufactured in the US? Are you also in the transportation industry and can offer your insight on this topic? Leave a comment below!

If you are interested in learning more about how BlueGrace Logistics can help your business leverage its freight shipping, contact an expert on our team today!

Dustin Snipes, Senior National Sales Manager – Inbound
Twitter: @dsnipesnole_bg

Preparing For A Championship? A Connection Between Football and Logistics!

Take a deep breath everyone, football season is almost here! As you read this article, teams all over the country at the professional and college level are preparing for their upcoming seasons.  Your favorite teams are doing everything they can to fine tune their roster, perfect game plans, and train hard to set themselves apart from their competition. This intense preparation and rigid self analysis can teach us a lesson in business as well. In extremely competitive environments, how does one company stack up to another? What sets you and your business apart? What can you do to become a champion in your industry?

First, you must know your own company’s strengths. What is it that you can do that no one else can or can do better than anyone else? What does your brand look like and how well do you serve your customer base? Lean against these tough questions when facing tough competition, and be honest to yourself. Next, you need to be doing industry research to know your competition and keep up with critical trends like communicating with customers via social media (Check us out on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn). On the field, or during a sale, knowing your competition’s strengths and weaknesses could make all the difference. For example, BlueGrace takes another sport that we love (MMA) and uses that to reach our customers on another level (i.e. Carlos Condit, UFC Interim Champ truckload campaign “The Champ Has Your Truckloads Covered“).

Regarding your customers, are you meeting or exceeding their expectations? Customers that are just having their needs met, might seem fine, but at the same time might be looking for something more. And believe me when I say there are plenty of companies out there looking to give them more- regardless of the industry you’re in and what you do. So ask yourself, what are you doing to exceed customer expectations on a daily basis? How do you make their jobs/lives easier? Thinking about this concept might help give you the edge in keeping and capturing new business. At BlueGrace, our customers and their needs are always the top priority of every decision we make from marketing, to sales, customer loyalty and even behind the scenes we ask “How are we making a difference today?” .

Lastly, how efficient are the operations within your organization? Are you streamlining as much as you possibly can to keep costs down? Are you using technology to the best of your ability to maximize spending and reduce overall costs to get the most out of your supply chain? A combination of all the above are critical to success and BlueGrace can help (at least with your supply chain). We know the do’s and don’ts in transportation and can effectively manage these processes for you. In 99.99% of all cases, being a champion means working as a team with a trusted group of individuals who all benefit from one another to make progress. In football, the last team standing is usually a well rounded group that’s truly understands the concept of being a team.  Take some time to think about tasks that would benefit partnering with a third party vendor who will take the time to learn your business.

Overall, the incorporation of sports into your company culture is a great way to connect and engage your employees. Happy employees are more productive and, in result, your organization can strengthen and grow. At BlueGrace Logistics, we promote healthy active lifestyles and spark some friendly office competition!  Always remember, company culture matters!

Whether on the field or in the business world how do you set yourself apart? Check out BlueGrace Logistics and see how we set ourselves apart from others in the transportation logistics industry!

BlueGrace has your Truckloads covered like a Champ

BlueGrace has your Truckloads covered like a Champ
Now is the perfect time to ship full truckloads with BlueGrace® Logistics. As of July 18th, receive a $10 gift card to Fighterwarehouse for ANY shipment!

As we’re all aware, the ebb and flow of capacity, fluctuating demand and speed-to-market often poses unique challenges to shippers. A powerful way to combat this is by shipping full truckloads (TL).

Building complete loads not only promotes efficiency but supports our economy whether it’s thriving or tumultuous. By consolidating freight, you help cut your own cost because TL utilization is improved and you convert less-than-truckload shipments into less-expensive full truckloads. Why have two trucks half-full when you can have one carry the entire load?

Why ship full truckloads?

1. Faster transit times because there are no terminal stops along the route. Consolidation into full truckloads allows for direct delivery to the customer.
2. Lower costs because the price per pound drops significantly. Some companies have reduced their freight transportation costs by up to 35%!
3. Less propensity for damage claims due to decreased handling of your freight.
4. Increase and dedicated capacity for you within your core carrier bases. Choose from a shared carrier network that fits your distinct transportation needs.
5. Increased visibility into forecasting demand helps you plan ahead for more efficiently matched supply and demand.

Why use a 3PL to ship your TL?

Because full truckload shipping is generally more intricate, a 3PL’s involvement smooths out your supply chain management by considering the details of your shipment so you don’t have to. We relieve you from headaches caused by grappling over questions like:
-What is the size and shape of my freight? How will the packaging of this impact my shipping?
-What are the routes looking like where it’s being transported? Is there construction?
-How will the time of year affect my transportation? How do I plan around holidays?

Truckload logistics management is a very detailed process and utilizing powerhouses like BlueGrace® Logistics can help prepare you to make the optimal decision for your transportation needs. What this all translates into is greater volume in the system. The more volume, the better the opportunities to build full truckloads and deliver shipments more frequently.

You know the mighty punch that consolidation packs and what a 3PL can bring into the arena. Now that you know, the question becomes: why haven’t you started yet?

Now is the perfect time to ship full truckloads with BlueGrace® Logistics. As of July 18th, receive a $10 gift card to Fighterwarehouse for ANY shipment! Contact one our reliable freight experts to receive a free quote or start booking today!

BlueGrace® Logistics is a proud sponsor of Carlos Condit and many other MMA fighters.

Logistics in the U.S. – Facts at a Glance

Logistics in the U.S. - Facts at a Glance Every facet of American life is touched by transportation. With freight being the economic staple that it is, every haul is a piece of a complex logistical puzzle that powers our nation. We’ve dug up some interesting factoids to help shed some light on just how large of a role transportation plays!

  • The US is comprised of 566 railroads (138,623 railroad miles).
  • Total 2011 U.S. logistics spend was estimated at $1.28 trillion up 6.6% over 2010.
  • According to the 2012 3PL Study, shippers who partner with third-party logistics providers report an average cost reduction of 13% and nearly two-thirds (64%) of survey respondents reported an increase in their use of outsourced logistics services.
  • 3.5 Million: The approximate number of truck drivers moving America’s freight. To put this in perspective, 1 in every 15 people working in the U.S. is employed in the trucking industry.
  • The transportation and warehousing sector totaled 4.292 million people in 2011. You can be an addition to this number, check out a career with BlueGrace Logistics!
  • Fact: Trucking is the dominate mode of transportation for our nation’s freight movement by approximately 71%.
  • 1.2 Million: The number of trucking companies operating in the U.S.
  • The highest-valued imported products in the U.S. include: agricultural products 4.9%, industrial supplies 32.9% (crude oil 8.2%), capital goods 30.4% (computers, telecommunications equipment, motor vehicle parts, office machines, electric power machinery), consumer goods 31.8% (automobiles, clothing, medicines, furniture, toys).
  • There are 149 ports located in the U.S.  South Louisiana, Houston, New York/New Jersey, and Long Beach often hitting the top of the list when ranked by tonnage or TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).
  • American businesses transported over 19 billion tons of raw materials and finished goods in 2002, valued at $13 trillion (including domestic commodity movements and domestic transportation of exports and imports).
  • More than $1 out of every $10 produced in the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is related to transportation activity.

After exposing your brain to all of this info, the importance of transportation should be crystal clear. You can see how each load is merely a link to an ever-globalizing supply chain. There’s never been a better time to get involved in this industry!

Any of these numbers surprise you? Share your logistics facts and figures with us!

Let us know what you think!

Are You Prepared if a Natural Disaster Disrupts Your Supply Chain?

Although the Weather Channel forecasts a below-average hurricane season in 2012 – there is still uncertainty and history says you can never be too prepared. As Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro instructs,

“people in hurricane-prone areas should be equally prepared every year regardless of seasonal outlooks.”

So what can your business do to prepare this hurricane season? Our team has outlined a few simple procedures to integrate throughout your entire supply chain to help you be proactive and prevent potential loss.

Flooded city hurricane aftermath
Flooded street in the Soho area of Manhattan from last year’s Hurricane Irene. Source: http://bit.ly/LhejIK
  1. Team: Are you prepared if your team is short-handed? Remember that cell phones, email, land lines, etc may become unavailable, which can cause great confusion. To avoid this stress, be sure to have multiple channels to communicate important messages and announcements to your staff. Satellite telephone systems offer a reliable form of communication for your immediate staff members.
  2. Customers: If/when your business is notified of a potential storm, let your customers know immediately so that they can plan ahead and adjust their inventories. Are there any products or materials that will be high in demand before or in the aftermath? The key is to remain flexible.
  3. Supply Chain: Daily operations and supply chain processes can be complicated very easily in the presence of severe weather. An easy way to prepare is to run through best and worst case scenarios with your team so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and how to respond quickly and effectively.
  4. Suppliers: Do you work directly with a single supplier? Is the business located in a hurricane prone area? If so, plan ahead with the supplier and ask how they have prepared to provide services or products in times of disaster. It’s also a good idea to maintain good relationships with multiple suppliers especially if you find yourself in a pinch.
  5. Freight: Be prepared to make special arrangements for your shipments. If the roads are dangerous, truck drivers will be pulled off for safety. An easy proactive measure is to schedule your freight shipments earlier or work with a logistics provider to see if there are any alternative routes. Keep in mind port availability. In the case of heavy rain and flooding, your freight may not be able to move. Consider all modes of transportation.
  6. Insurance Provider: Be sure to have a copy of your policy and get any questions answered from your provider so you’re not left wondering.
  7. Data: Backing up your data is critical. In today’s global economy, businesses function on computer systems and databases. Be sure that your business documents, records, etc are stored at an off-site location.
  8. Community: Once your business has a backup plan, reach out to others in your community and share your tips and advice on how you prepared your business for a natural disaster. Hint: You can start by sharing this information!

No matter how many hurricanes, tropical storms, or natural disasters occur – it only takes one to impact our communities and cause major disruption. Get a plan started today and re-evaluate periodically, especially if severe weather is on the way.

We hope that these hurricane preparedness tips and reminders are helpful to your business. Of course, it is our hope that you will never have to put your plan into action. If you would like more information on how to formulate your own plan, build a kit and get involved, check out this natural disaster preparedness resource from FEMA.

 

#BGInvestigates: Is Rail Transport Right on Track for your Business?

 

Rail Transport | Rail Freight Shipping | Intermodal Transportation
When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes?

The Shipper’s Key to Railroad Freight is Planning Ahead of Time Based on your Business Model.

When it comes to transporting your heavy load, have you looked into all transportation modes? The U.S. rail system is one of the largest contributors to our economic well-being, providing an efficient long haul transportation alternative. In 2009, following a historic $26 billion railroad investment, Warren Buffett was quoted saying

“Our country’s prosperity depends on its having an efficient and well-maintained rail system.”

With increasing diesel fuel prices and rising carbon emissions – The planet can’t afford for you to ignore the benefits of rail freight shipping!

Suppose that your business has freight going from Tampa to Los Angeles, about 2,500 miles. While road may take 4 ½ transit days, rail would take approximately 10 days. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s a big transit difference!” We agree – but how fast could YOU travel with 100 tons on your back?! Not to mention the difference in environmental impact. Did you know that rail is the most energy efficient way to move your goods on land? In fact, rail uses on average 4x less energy than truck, reducing carbon emissions by 75%! The point is… If your business can plan ahead, then you can utilize rail to transport your goods and significantly reduce your supply chain costs and carbon footprint. Sounds like a pretty good deal, huh?

This issue of #BGInvestigates identifies a few questions to help you identify if rail is the ideal mode of transportation for your business.

  • What type of goods can be transported by rail? Coal is the most important commodity carried by rail, followed by other products such as chemicals, grains, farm products, non metallic minerals, waste and scrap.
  • Approximately how many tons can a rail car handle? While a truckload can handle about 43,000 lbs., a rail car can handle 100-110 tons.
  • How do you receive a freight rate for rail? Contact one of our Freight Experts via email or phone (800-697-4477) so that s/he can identify the rail lane options and select the best route for your freight.  This is a customizable process and it’s important to know all of your transportation options.
  • Is booking railroad freight difficult? Not at all! After receiving a competitive price to transport your goods, you can fill a container when time allows and schedule a truck to pick up your freight from your business location. From there, the driver will take it to the rail yard where your freight will be loaded and sent off by railroad to its drop off destination.

So what do you say? Does rail seem like the right track for your business? Contact one of our Intermodal experts today to analyze the advantages and cost savings potential to move your goods via rail. As we continue to research new methods that will save you money and the environment while improving efficiencies, we’ll report them to you! Did you find this post helpful or have an idea the BG Investigates Team should look into? Don’t forget to mention it on Twitter (#BGInvestigates).

Have freight that’s ready to be shipped by rail? Share a picture!  Are you on Pinterest? Pin it!

Back-to-School Preparation in Ports

Back to School Preparation in Ports | International Shipping | Container FreightAccording to Logistics Management and the Global Port Tracker, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) reported an increase in container volume throughout the month of April.

“It was a very good month with double-digit increases on both the import and export side,” said POLA Director of Communications, Philip Sanfield.

Once a container is unloaded, it is usually reloaded with new cargo and shipped to a new port or destination. Although it is preferred that a container is loaded with new cargo once emptied, that’s not always the case. Shippers are forced to consider that the cost to ship back an empty container is more than the value of the container itself. So as these used containers begin to reposition to areas where they will be used, it’s a sign that shippers and retailers are preparing for a particular season or time where traffic is prominent. In this case (and due to the time of course), we’re referring to back-to-school season at the end of summer.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) anticipates the number of imports will grow through the back-to-school season, indicating signs of economic recovery with expectations for a “good year” for retailers. Toward the end of June and into early July shipments for back-to-school season will encourage the Peak Season shipping pattern.

West coast ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, Tacoma and Seattle welcome the anticipated increase in imports forecasted through July. The increased volume of goods shipped around the globe is a good indicator of economic health; proving that logistics moves the global economy.

As you prepare to send your kid to summer camp and make room in your budget for back-to-school supplies and apparel, keep in mind that the ports and retailers are preparing today to meet your demands tomorrow!

VOTE BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL

Vote BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL ProviderEach year Inbound Logistics releases a Readers’ Choice Top 10 3PL Excellence survey for shippers and businesses to express their appreciation for their best third party logistics provider. It is our mission to serve you with world class technology and outstanding customer service daily while offering simplicity and reduced freight costs.

Here are Top 3 Reasons to Vote BlueGrace as Top 3PL:

  1. OMG Service: Our team of dedicated logistics support experts is always eager to assist throughout the shipping process. Contact them via email, chat directly from our website, phone 1-800-MY-SHIPPING, or social networks! To see what customers are saying about shipping with BlueGrace, read Customer Reviews on Facebook.
  2. Simplicity with Technology: BlueGrace Logistics offer advanced logistics technology and shipping tools to simplify your freight shipping. This allows you to focus on your core competencies and leave the shipping to us!
  3. Logistics Champs: We’re proud sponsors of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters – it’s just one way we build relationships between our employees, customers, and logistics partners by participating in this common sports interest. Inc Magazine interviewed BlueGrace Logistics President and CEO, Bobby Harris, in their June edition to get the scoop on the MMA involvement.

Please take a moment to cast your vote for BlueGrace Logistics as your Top 3PL. Thanks in advance for your support!

If you are interested in learning more about the “BGExperience,” contact our friendly team today to get truckin’ on the road to streamlined shipping with BlueGrace Logistics!

– Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Follow: @SamHill_BG

BlueGrace Logistics Sponsors Humane Society of Tampa Bay’s 2012 “Tuxes & Tails” Event

The BlueGrace team poses for a group photo by Super Booch Party Portraits.
BlueGrace Logistics enjoyed a night out for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay's "Tuxes & Tails" event!

Celebrating 100 years of saving lives, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay (HSTB) hosted its 10th Annual Tuxes & Tails event at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, FL on Saturday, May 5, 2012. As a proud sponsor of this event, the BlueGrace Logistics team went out to support the cause and experience this heart-warming, black-tie affair. Attendees celebrated the night with live music, cocktails, dinner, silent and live auctions and a fashion show. The community’s heart was touched by the incredible stories shared about animals in search of a loving family and successful adoptions such as the friendship of Rocky and soon-to-be 3 year old Mirielle. The event was a huge success! HSTB announced that more than $265,000 was raised, saving the lives of approximately 1,000 animals. Check out the pictures of the Tuxes & Tail on the BlueGrace Facebook page and HSTB.

Congratulations to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, staff and volunteers! Your hearts and efforts are greatly appreciated by companies like BlueGrace Logistics and others in the Tampa Bay community.

The Humane Society of Tampa Bay is BlueGrace Logistics’ charity of choice. The HSTB staff visit the corporate office periodically to conduct orientations and provide information about how employees can get involved. Our 2nd Annual Cats vs. Dogs (females vs males) pet food drive raised over 6,700 lbs of food for the organization. BlueGrace Logistics’ CEO and President, Bobby Harris, commented on the contest contributions by saying, “I get asked often as to what defines success, and many times people are seeking a dollar number. I can promise you it’s not dollars that make us successful but rather the things we do for others… The motto ‘People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care’ is at work here alongside each of us.”

If you would like to learn more about how you can lend a hand to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, please visit their website or contact one of their team members to get involved in events, giving, and volunteer opportunities. HSTB also offers an affordable spay/neuter and wellness clinic to keep your furry friends happy and healthy.

Meow, Woof!

-Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Twitter: @SamHill_BG

SportsFest Teaches Lessons in Teamwork

Where’s one place you can catch employees and executives battling side-by-side in the sandy trenches of a beautiful Florida beach? Why America II Corporate SportsFest of course!

Once a year 150+ companies from across Tampa Bay compete for the esteemed title of SportsFest Champions… a position that we at BlueGrace® Logistics do not take lightly. This year brought our 3rd go-round at the event and our team of 41 players was pumped full of excitement and eager to compete! Never before have you seen such camaraderie covered in tanning oil; just bring your team spirit and game-face… no athletic skills necessary!

With five events to participate in, co-workers certainly get a chance to bond. Considering our staff has nearly doubled in size since last year’s fest, it was a perfect opportunity to get to know some of the new faces. Heather Anderson, our Culture Coordinator and Team Captain raves how beneficial the games are for team building,

A lot of our employees are die hard competitors, so it’s nice to have to depend on each other to beat the other teams.

Mudwars 2011 St. Petersburg, FL
BlueGrace team demonstrates what they're made of at Mudwars 2011.

Though BlueGrace employees make it look easy to function as team in the workplace, it does not happen automatically. Ideas for team building activities come from all employees and are supported by the leadership staff. BlueGrace schedules group activities including company softball and bowling league, Mudwars, and monthly themed office days such as barbeques, potlucks, corn hole tournaments, and #FreeBeerFriday (after 4pm). Each event allows employees to engage with one another to build stronger relationships and contribute more effectively in a team environment. In 2011 and 2012, BlueGrace Logistics was honored to be recognized as a Tampa Bay Business Journal’s Best Places to Work finalist.

Effective teamwork can yield incredible results, in the sand or the workplace. Listed below are just some reasons to participate in team-building activities within your company:

  • Creates unity where everyone is focused on a common goal
  • Encourages employees take ownership in the company’s success
  • Keeps everyone on a level playing field promoting a leaner business model
  • Increases the ability to adapt by fostering flexibility
  • Boosts morale by encouraging achievement

Though we didn’t come home with a win from SportsFest, we consistently win at providing the best service to our customers thanks to our stellar employees and impeccable teamwork. Babe Ruth said it best,

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success.  You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.”

To join our team of MVPs, contact our recruiting team via email or follow them on Twitter @BGCareers to learn more about career opportunities. Did you participate in SportsFest this year? Does your company conduct regular team building activities? Tell us about it!

 

-Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Twitter: @BG_JennyD 

Logistics, MMA and the Power of 140 Characters

If you’re a fan of mixed martial arts (MMA), you may have seen the BlueGrace® Logistics logo slapped on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC®) fighters’ shorts. You might ask yourself, “Why is a logistics service provider sponsoring this sport?

Carlos Condit (left) kicks Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 143. Photo by Esther Lin via MMAFighting
BlueGrace Logistics sponsors Carlos Condit in Interim Welterweight Championship UFC 143. Source: http://sbn.to/AD4W26

MMA is one of the fastest growing sports today and the fighters demonstrate admirable character and values (not often seen in other sports). Not to mention, the UFC has made a huge impression on the sports industry as whole through its social media madness! Although professional MMA fighting is banned in certain states, that hasn’t stopped the UFC from growing its devoted fan base. In fact, the President, Dana White, embraced the power of Twitter for branding and fan engagement. He invested in a media agency to teach the fighters how to use the social platform and instructed them by saying, “I want you to Twitter your *** off!”

Like Dana, President and CEO of BlueGrace Logistics, Bobby Harris, is an enthusiastic advocate of Twitter. Last year, Bobby championed an open social media policy for all BlueGrace employees; instilling trust to represent the brand, all BlueGrace employees complete a Twitter boot camp and social media training in their first week of employment. They’re educated on the power of social media, how to engage and build relationships, and why it is part of the #BGExperience. BlueGrace employees (fighters) interact with customers (fans), partners, and their fellow peers via Twitter.

BlueGrace Logistics Open Social Media Policy
BlueGrace President and CEO, Bobby Harris, teaches Twitter 101 to employees.

It is our mission to provide businesses with the tools and technology required to power their logistics operations in a seamless and efficient manner. We believe that social media provides a forum for open discussion with employees, customers, and partners; where industry experts can ask questions, find answers, and build meaningful relationships.  Social media is the future of supply chain management and logistics – its real-time information sharing capabilities are critical. As the UFC Social Media Manager says, “You can reach anyone, anywhere in the world.”

Watch how we’ve even incorporated mixed martial arts into our corporate training program. Are you or someone you know looking for a career? Get to know BlueGrace and join our team of logistics professionals!

Dana White and the UFC are to be commended on their commitment to social media and for demonstrating what #GreatnessIs … just ask their millions of die-hard fans! The UFC and BlueGrace Logistics made the critical move and experience the power of social media and business everyday – has your business?

Share your social biz story with us! Have you started? Are you way ahead of the game? Do you believe in the power of 140 characters? We want to know!

-Samantha Hill, Community Manager
Twitter: @SamHill_BG

It’s a Man’s World

Its a Mans World | Women in Trucking Industry and MMA | BlueGrace MMA Sponsor Felice Herrig“You see, man made the cars to take us over the road. Man made the trains to carry heavy loads.”

Ah, James Brown…how the times are a changing. Man may have made those things, but guess who’s transporting these days? That’s right,women.

Now more than ever, women are entering into arenas that were once thought to be ruled by men. Places such as the octagon of a fighting ring and behind the wheel of a big rig – both are familiar to BlueGrace® Logistics. As most of you know, we are proud sponsors of MMA and recently teamed up with our first female XFC® fighterFelice “Lil Bulldog” Herrig. The qualities that Felice and women of MMA embody are the same that ladies in the logistics industry possess in order to succeed.

“Integrity, determination, dependability, and a healthy respect for competition, that is what these UFC® fighters represent to BlueGrace,”says BlueGrace President/CEO, Bobby Harris.

Relevant to our industry, Desiree is a well known female truck driver recognized for her viewpoints and expertise. Desiree provides trucking news and shares her story as a  female trucker. She believes that women are an underappreciated resource—yet exemplify the critical skills that are needed to perform the job. To stay up to date on the latest news, read The Trucker Desiree Daily!

Working as a female in a predominantly male industry presents additional unique challenges and circumstances. Therefore, whatever obstacles men may face driving a truck or knocking out an opponent, women must overcome another set associated with the gender stereotype. Though the percentage of females employed in the “transportation and material moving occupations” is approximately15 percent, it’s worth reporting that this movement is trending in an upward and positive direction. Women should be acknowledged as “forces to be reckoned with” despite the barriers they face.

Some may argue that the road and the ring are no place for females, we beg to differ. We must recall the most important line of Mr. Brown’s song, “It wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl”.

Be sure to check out our exclusive video of Felice on the BlueGrace Facebook page.

BlueGrace is thrilled to be involved in supporting the women of the MMA industry; and appreciates the hard work and dedication of women in transportation.

If you are a woman in the transportation or sports industries, we want to hear from you! Do you have an example of an obstacle that you have had to overcome? Perhaps you can offer helpful tips on how to succeed in a male dominated industry.

Contact our Community Manager with any questions about our MMA sponsorships or logistics services today!

– Jennifer Masters, Business Information Analyst
Follow @BG_JennyD on Twitter