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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Closing out Q3 and looking ahead to the holidays

As the holidays approach and we prepare for our busiest time of the year -- thanks to the huge growth of our home delivery business over the past few years -- I'm excited to close out yet another strong quarter at Pilot. As we announced today (check out the press release below), Q3 was the seventh consecutive quarter in which our revenue grew, keeping us on pace to have our biggest year ever.

Special congratulations goes to two groups: government services, which was up a whopping 46 percent over Q3 of 2010, and special services, who almost matched that number, with 44 percent year-over-year growth. Both teams have had great success in landing new accounts, as well as getting additional business from current customers. Great job to everyone involved!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pilot Seattle sets revenue record

As the third quarter comes to a close and we gear up to handle record volumes of home delivery business this holiday season, I want to congratulate the folks in our Seattle station, who had a phenomenal month in August. The station brought in $6.27 million in revenue for the month, beating out the previous company-wide monthly record by about $500,000.

I spoke with Seattle station owner Patrick Allen, who credited the station's success to strong numbers from established customers, as well as landing several new clients. I personally visited there last month, and every employee in the office is totally focused on customer experience, and on spreading the word that there is something special at Pilot. The atmosphere is electric. Patrick has long talked about how proud he is of his whole team, and that pride shows in the way they handled the unprecedented volume.

Congratulations to the Seattle team, and we look forward to seeing who will set the next record!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Maneuvering freight through challenging international areas

Every month, Inbound Logistics magazine runs a “10 Tips” column, offering advice on a specific topic related to shipping and logistics. For the July issue, they asked us to put together some industry tips on “Maneuvering Freight Through Challenging International Areas.” I put together some of my thoughts on the subject, which were published this week.

I gave suggestions on locating an airport with customs facilities, finding local agents, navigating security and border issues, and various other tactics. These tips should be helpful to anyone looking to move freight into areas like Japan, with its continuing earthquake/tsunami recovery, or countries like Iraq or Afghanistan, where war has made transportation much more difficult.

To read my full list of tips, check out the piece on Inbound Logistics’ website. And if you have any questions on the topic, feel free to leave a comment and I'll be happy to get back to you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pilot Detroit doubles its footprint

Back in June I told you about the Pilot Houston station moving to a new space, and now the Detroit station has followed suit. As of a few weeks ago, all Pilot operations in Detroit are being housed at a new facility, more than double the size of their previous space. The move was necessitated by significant sustained growth across the station's domestic, international and home delivery business.

With this location change, the automotive group -- which was previously displaced due to a lack of room -- has moved back in with the rest of the Pilot group in Detroit.

I spoke with Zach Pollock, the station manager, who was very excited about the 12 dock doors in the new facility. The station recently launched a cartage trucking operation, which has been extremely successful thus far, but was limited by the old facility's limited number of docks. With this increased capacity, the team will be able to load and unload multiple trucks at once, increasing the flow of freight they can handle.

Congratulations to the team on the move!

Pilot Freight Services
11400 Metro Airport Center Dr., Suite 200
Romulus, MI 48174
Phone: 734-941-4090
FAX: 734-941-3677
Continue reading below for the press release we put out this morning on the news.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pilot opens first European station

Back in January, I mentioned that there was big news coming for Pilot this year, including new locations both here in the states and abroad. After months of hard work by Gordon Branov, Gilles Auzanneau, Alexandra Ryan and many others, I am excited to announce that Pilot has opened its first European station, in Amsterdam.

Opening a full Pilot station in Amsterdam (AMS) will transform our company. Today, our customers' businesses often rely on international shipping or logistics. In order to offer the best possible customer service and transit times in Europe, as well as our sophisticated logistics solutions, we simply had to have our own people in place. And Amsterdam was the clear choice for where the first European station should go.

Amsterdam's Schipol airport and the Port of Rotterdam are two of the largest cargo portals in the world. Because of this, Amsterdam is home to enormous logistics programs, and is the perfect gateway to Western Europe. Its central location will allow us to offer overnight service to several major destinations, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Poland.

Additionally, AMS will give companies exporting freight from Europe easier access to our network in North America, Asia and many other countries around the world. While we expect much of the initial traffic through the Amsterdam station to be coming from the U.S. to European destinations, we anticipate that over time we'll see many more European companies taking advantage of our well-established domestic network.

The Amsterdam station will be managed by two Pilot veterans, Gilles Auzanneau and Alexandra Ryan. These long-time Pilot employees and international shipping experts are both previous winners of Pilot's Globetrotter award, and will bring the mix of operational and sales expertise that our customers expect from Pilot. The station will be overseen by our executive vice president of business development, Gordon Branov.

This is an important shift for Pilot. It marks our commitment to our international product, and stakes our claim as a global force in transportation and logistics. We expect AMS to lead to additional stations in other international locations. Stay tuned for more announcements later this year!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pilot Houston moves up in the world

As Pilot has grown and expanded as a company, stations across the country have found it necessary to move to larger facilities to keep up with that growth. The latest station to make their move is Houston, which has moved into a new location, adjacent to the Houston Intercontinental Airport. The new facility features over 18,500 square feet of warehouse space (compared to 9,950 sq. ft. at the old location) and more than 3,000 sq. ft. of office space (up from 1,750).

I spoke with Brian Nelson, District Manager for the Houston station, who explained that recent growth—in terms of both business and personnel—precipitated this move. Over the past 12 to 15 months, the station has taken on at least five new warehousing customers, whose freight is shipped to the warehouse, where it is inventoried and stored, and eventually shipped out domestically.

In addition to obvious advantages of having more space to work with, Brian expressed to me that he is happy to be in a brand new space that is better equipped to host meetings with customers, and to showcase Pilot's offerings.

Congratulations to the team in Houston on the big move!

Pilot Freight Services
18951 Kenswick Drive, Suite 160
Humble, TX 77338
Phone: (281) 590-1197 
Fax: (281) 590-1582

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How valuable is your 3PL?

After putting together her last article on how 3PLs can minimize risks and handle challenges, Gail Dutton from WT100 Magazine turned her attention to how 3PL providers can provide the most value to customers.

When I spoke with her on the topic, we discussed the importance of various factors in the 3PL relationship, including having a strong process in place and having good local knowledge, particularly in the case of international imports and exports.

As I told Gail, the key to success in the logistics process is to “partner with the right vendor and document expectations as well as how the process will actually work. Having a clear statement of work, and understanding what the customer wants, makes it easier to design an efficient system for them.”

To read the full article, head over to the WT100 website.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Starting out 2011 on a high note

Considering the fact that Pilot achieved such amazing milestones in 2010, it may seem hard to believe that the first quarter of 2011 brought in 34 percent higher revenue than Q1 of last year. Well, believe it!

At our National Sales Meeting in March, I told the Pilot team that we expect to hit $500 million in revenue for the year. And with a nearly $115 million Q1, we're well on the way to hitting that mark.

I have to give a special shout out to our automotive group, which had an impressive first quarter compared to last year, marking 13 percent growth and setting a new bar for themselves. The business unit is an area that we see great potential in, and I'm thrilled to see them doing so well.

For more information, read our full press release below.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Risks and challenges in the 3PL world

Earlier this year, I spoke with one of the writers from WT100, Gail Dutton (who interviewed John Kelemen last year), and her latest story has come out—focusing on how 3PLs can minimize risks. In the article, Getting Past the Fear Factor, Gail addresses various issues of concern for shippers, ranging from delays and damaged cargo to civil unrest and regulatory changes. More importantly, she covers how 3PLs and transportation providers are helping their customers navigate these issues.

I talked to Gail a lot about how Pilot is helping our clients move into new markets—specifically in Latin America and Europe. We're seeing more and more customers showing interest in Latin America, thanks to the closeness to U.S. markets, and the availability of inexpensive labor. I explained that one of the best tactics in working internationally can be choosing great local partners. These partners are carefully vetted by us, but often have far more expertise on their region than we do, allowing our customers to benefit from that knowledge.

We also spoke about the growing trend of "merge and deliver" services, and how these can really help ensure customer satisfaction. Historically, manufacturing or service companies would ship parts directly to the customer before an install. That led to delays and confusion, as components were invariably misplaced. However, merge and deliver services eliminate that issue by having the different deliveries ship to Pilot sites. Before an installation team is scheduled, Pilot confirms that all the components have arrived at its warehouse, and coordinates their delivery with the installation team and the store.

To read the full story, head over to WT100’s website.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pilot supports the Cadence Cycling Foundation and the power of dreams

People ask me all the time why I do triathlons. I usually just fumble around and say something like, “I enjoy it.” But the truth is, I do triathlons to claim ownership over my future. Let me explain.

Eight years ago I had never ridden a bike farther than about a mile. I had never swum more than two laps in a pool. I was an okay runner, but not great. And then I got this idea in my head that I was going to become a triathlete. It turned out that that idea was more powerful than my reality at the time (my reality at the time was that I had little fitness, no experience, and no idea where to start).

I started swimming, gasping and struggling through two laps, then four, then six. I started biking farther and farther, often ending up completely exhausted, miles from home, with no way to get back except by somehow getting back on my bike and pedaling through the pain. I ran farther than I ever dreamed possible.

In the end, I became a triathlete, and in the process, a new person. I proved to myself that a person with an idea (better in my case to call it a dream) can fundamentally change his or her reality, if they have the determination to do so.

That ability to change our own futures is also why Pilot is so excited to sponsor the Cadence Cycling Foundation. The CCF offers cycling instruction, training, and racing opportunities to young people from under-served communities in the Philadelphia area. To date it has formed eight teams that compete and win against better-funded teams with more experience.

That is wonderful, but the reason we support the CCF is not to create cyclists, but to help these young people realize the power of their dreams and, the determination to make them reality. That is why the CCF does not stop with cycling. It provides SAT coaching and other services to help these young people become the person they dream they can be. If you have a minute, please read the college essay from one of our athletes, Leroy Hayes. Leroy is everything you imagine from the essay. He is remarkably bright, dedicated, and I can say from personal experience, one of the most delightful people you could know. What he does not say in his essay (perhaps because, like me, he knows that it is probably the least important aspect of his journey) is that he has become one of the top junior cyclists in the state. It’s a remarkable story.

After you read Leroy's essay, check out this recent Philadelphia Inquirer article about the organization and some of its members. Pilot is proud to sponsor Leroy and others, as they realize the power of their dreams.

“Spin Cycle” by Leroy Hayes

“Determination is the key to doing great things” – Ryan Oelkers

As a 283 pound 10th grader standing at 5’7” I slowly walked down the hall with my chin hanging to the floor. On my way out of school on a warm autumn afternoon, a blonde hair man with a smile that stretched from ear to ear snatched me by the arm and said “Would you like to join the cycling team?” The thought of actually joining a physical activity made me pause, because I found it tiring to walk up the steps to the fourth floor for my classes. Then he said “Come see what it is about.” While still in his vice-like grip he pulls me into a room filled with athletic looking students. I felt so out of place; I felt as if everyone was staring at me. I could see it their eyes “What is he doing here?” During that information session he explained the sport of cycling with so much enthusiasm that he convinced me to at least attempt the sport.

After practicing with the team for a few weeks, I felt like my body was being pushed to its breaking point. Almost every night half way through practice I felt like just calling it quits. The pain wasn’t worth it. Moreover, I felt my body screaming inside, that someone had set my legs aflame. At every practice my coach told me “determination is the key to doing great things.” It was his words that made the brutal workouts bearable. Now I am 100 pounds lighter and one of the best junior cyclist in the state.

During my eleventh grade year I struggled with the work load. That year, I had a hard time maintaining a grade high enough to stay on cycling team. The SATs arrived and I was not too confident about my test taking abilities. My cycling coach provided me with SAT prep classes to boost my self-confidence. The class was two and half hours of practice test after practice test every Wednesday for 5 weeks. As a result, I was able to get the highest SAT score out of my entire 11th grade class.

For my dedication and strides academically, I was named captain of the cycling team in my senior year. I was transformed from a 10th grade student who talked in a low voice and walked with his head held down to a person who walks with his nose in the clouds and makes it his objective to be heard. This year I was told by a junior cyclist “I want to be like you.” At that point, I knew that I was becoming the type of person I always wanted to be; someone others would look to as a role model.

Monday, January 24, 2011

It’s official: 2010 breaks all records

After continuing to break monthly and quarterly records all year long, we have been anticipating for months that 2010 would be the largest year in Pilot’s history. I’m happy to officially announce that we crushed our previous records, with $423.5 million in revenue for 2010. This marks an incredible 31 percent increase over 2009’s numbers.

The thanks for our success, as always, goes to the incredible Pilot team, who works tirelessly to serve our customers above and beyond their expectations.

This is a huge milestone for our company. We have emerged from the recession stronger than before, with local accounts, international shipping, national accounts, home delivery, automotive and logistics all growing very well. And we have exciting things on the horizon for 2011, including the continued expansion of our services, and the opening of new stations domestically and in Europe. Stay tuned to the blog for more details on these exciting developments.

For more details on our 2010 numbers, you can read the full press release below.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Looking back, and planning ahead

As we reflect on 2010, and look ahead to 2011, it is useful to think about all of the things that made last year such a success, and all of the things we will do in 2011 to improve our business. I recently had the opportunity to share some of these thoughts in a column for SupplyChainBrain. I talked a little bit about how 2010 will be remembered – as a year in which well-positioned transportation companies gained real momentum by offering greater value to their customers. I also offered some insight into what I believe are the keys to success for transportation companies this year.

My insights may not have been earth-shattering. In fact, they are all things that anyone could see if they were to go out and talk to customers, and then look around at their competition. From knowing that a customer never forgets the service we provide (for better or worse), to earning trust by putting the customer’s interest ahead of short term profits, to fostering customer communication at a deeper level than just shipment data, to working to customize our transportation solutions, it all comes down to a focus on real value that is felt by our customers.

Head over to SupplyChainBrain’s site to read the full column, “Expect Measured Growth in Transportation and Logistics in 2011 – and Customers to Demand More Value.”

When you’re done, I’d love to hear your thoughts – do you agree with my assessment of 2010? Any other thoughts on how transportation companies can best position themselves to succeed? Feel free to leave a comment and chime in.